Irish Episcopal Council for Emigrants



The Catholic Church in Ireland has always been concerned about its members overseas – their spiritual, psychological, and material well-being. Clergy and religious have always traveled to dioceses in which Irish emigrants live.

The Irish Catholic Conference of Bishops has established two special councils for the Irish Diaspora – The Irish Episcopal Council for Emigrants (IECE) and the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas (ICPO). These Councils organize pastoral outreach and support personnel in areas of the world where there are significant numbers of Irish immigrants. When possible and the situation merits it, they send Chaplains (Priests and Religious) who are the link with the Church in a particular Diocese and the Church at home.

Irish Episcopal Council for Emigrants
Columba Centre
Maynooth, Co. Kildare
Telephone: +353 1 505 3155
Fax: +353 1 601 6401

Mr. Brian Hanley, Emigrant Officer

Originally from Sligo, Brian has been working with IECE since late 2008. He holds a degree in Business and Legal Studies from University College Dublin and a Masters in Law from University College Cork, specializing in criminal justice. From 2008 to July 2011, Brian held the posts of ICPO Coordinator and Emigrant Officer of the Irish Episcopal Council for Emigrants. Returning to the ICPO in March 2012 he worked as a Caseworker and Family Support Officer, completing a Diploma in Criminology and Criminal Psychology in 2014. Brian returned to the position of ICPO Coordinator in September 2014 and qualified as a barrister in 2015.

Mrs. Bernadette Martin, IECE Administrator

Bernie, a native of county Sligo. first worked with IECE in 2006 when she covered maternity leave for Caroline Navagh. After Caroline’s retirement, Bernie moved from another post in Irish Episcopal Conference back to the Irish Episcopal Council for Emigrants.


Most Rev. John Kirby, Chairperson

John Kirby was born in Baylough, Athlone, the son of Patrick Kirby and Rose McCormack. After his primary education in ‘The Batteries’ National School, Athlone and secondary education in St. Joseph’s College, Garbally Park, Ballinasloe, he went to St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth to study for the priesthood.

He was ordained on Sunday, June 23rd, 1963 and his first appointment as a priest was as teacher in St. Joseph’s College, Garbally. His main subject was mathematics, which he taught to honours leaving certificate level. During his years in Garbally he involved himself in every aspect of college life and had considerable success as trainer of the senior Rugby Football team. In September 1979, when Fr. Joseph Cassidy was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Clonfert, he was appointed President and Principal of Garbally College. The college was entering a period of rapid growth at that time and Fr. Kirby oversaw a major building project to extend the classroom accommodation and facilities for staff and students.

In 1988 Bishop Cassidy was transferred to the diocese of Tuam as archbishop and Fr. Kirby was appointed bishop of Clonfert. His episcopal ordination was on Saturday April 9th, 1988. Bishop Kirby’s Episcopal responsibilities on behalf of the Irish Bishops’ Conference include – Member of Episcopal Commission for Social Issues and International Affairs, Member of the Council for Justice and Peace (Justice and Peace Ireland). Member of the Council for Emigrants and of Trocaire, the Irish Catholic Agency for Third World Development.