Choice Publishing Book Store

New Voices at the Crossroads is a book of  53 interviews with people from 35 different nationalities living in Ireland. The interviewees were prompted with general questions and asked to talk about their home countries and why they came to Ireland. They were also asked to give their general opinion of the country and the culture and any more specific information they cared to give. The stories vary in length as some people had a lot to say and others less. No real time restrictions were put on the interviews but all were transcribed and edited to make a more readable written text. Most people approached were enthusiastic and excited to be given the opportunity to have a voice but a minority did not wish to be included.


Josephine O’Brien was born in Tipperary, took her first degree in UCC and further degrees in University of Birmingham and Leicester University.  She has spent most of her adult life travelling and working in Africa and the Middle East with time spent in Australia and Canada also.  She spent two years back in Ireland 2005 to 2007 and was fascinated by the diversity of nationalities and languages that one could find in Ireland so she decided to record some people's stories. This was done on a very ad hoc basis - as people were encountered and agreed to be interviewed. A major purpose in collecting these interviews was to give a voice to people who have contributed and continue to contribute to many aspects of Irish society. Talking to people and working also as a teacher of English to non English speaking students and workers in Ireland made her realize that much of what happens in the country in terms of language development, social integration and policy development for migrant workers on the part of the government has little to do with human consideration and social evolution and much more to do with convenience and economics.  She also realized that it is easy for stereotypes to develop when people have little real social contact with each other.  Right now she works as a professor of language in Zayed University in the UAE.


New voices, old stereotypes

 ‘I see Ireland erupting within ten years.  I see London bombs going
off here because of the type of Islam here.’ (Shaheed South Africa)

 What compels migrant workers to leave their homes, their friends and
their families to make a new life for themselves thousands of miles
away? Are they brought to Ireland by fear for their
 own safety, or are they, as some charge,  economic refugees?

How do the new Irish see us? Are we a bunch of xenophobic tax evaders
who only talk about sport, genetically programmed to resent

Or is Ireland still that great little country, green of field and
forest, blessed with wonderful weather, where the seasons actually
change and everyone talks to you in the pub?

 In ‘New Voices at the Crossroads’, we see ourselves through the eyes
of others. We hear what a specialist nurse from Bahrain now working in
private health care thinks of our public health service. What a
Transylvanian community development officer who comes from what he
describes as a 'police country' thinks of the Gardaí.

These are just two of over 50 people from 35 countries to be found
between the covers of this remarkable book.

They tell us what brought them to Ireland.  About what life was like
in their home countries
 before they left. About what they secretly think of Ireland––and the Irish.

 Their stories remind us that migrant workers cannot be neatly
bracketed as ‘foreign nationals’. But, despite the fact that their
experiences in Ireland are often as diverse as their country of
 origin, there are common threads. Like, for example, dealing with
government bureaucracy, or, negotiating the perils of An Lar, a
mysterious destination beloved of Dublin buses.

 Author Josephine O’Brien is uniquely placed to write this incisive
and eclectic collection of stories.  Born in Tipperary, she has spent
most of her adult life working in Africa and the Middle East, as well
as in Australia and Canada.

Currently working as a professor of language in Zayed University in
the United Arab Emirates, she was fascinated by the diversity of
nationalities and languages in Ireland. ‘I wanted to give a voice to
people who have contributed to Irish society’,  she says, 'from the
perspective of an Irish person who has lived most of her life as a
migrant worker outside Ireland'.

 Teaching English here as a second or third language made her realise
that government integration policies for migrant workers in Ireland
stem largely from economics.  ‘It is easy for stereotypes to develop
 people have little real social contact with each other’, she says.

'This book is about breaking those stereotypes.'

She leaves the last word to Mustafa from Bahrain: ‘I hope that one day
 the Irish people will realise that wherever you walk in a street
there are bound to be different kinds of people, not all of whom are
 refugees.  Even the refugees are not all bad.’

 Some quotes from New Voices at the Crossroads’:

 ‘Things like tax evasion here are a national hobby and if you do not
do it, you are considered crazy.’ (Ulrike Germany)

 ‘I have never seen any mixing between Sudanese and Irish families.’
(Magdi Sudan)

 ‘Every foreigner who has come here has come as an invader.  I believe
there is a psychological, genetic in-built thing that even though they
 did not live through the invasions they are born with a kind of tiny
resentment of whatever is foreign.’  (Junior Congo)

 ‘If they [Africans] are driving an '07 or '08 car, the police will
often stop the car and ask you how you managed to buy the car.’
(Dambudzo Zimbabwe)

 ‘You know, around 1997 the Bosnians were accused of many things here,
but now the focus is on other communities and nobody bothers the
 Bosnians anymore.’ (Haris Bosnia)

 ‘The question of Chinese integration into Irish society is mixed.
 Some of them are integrating quite well but some are struggling.’
 (Cheng China)

 ‘This government in Ireland does not want to make our lives easy.
They create as much hassle as they can to make you leave voluntarily.’
(Ovidu Romania)

 ‘Ireland is one of the best countries for Turkish people to live in.
There are many similarities between the two cultures, both positive
 and negative.’   (Serhat Turkey)

 ‘Irish people know nothing about each other personally.  They mainly
talk about sport and other nonsense.  There is no real friendship
 here.’ (Joseph Israel)

 ‘Irish people are very open. You meet them on the streets and in the
pub and they just start talking to you.  When you come back from
 holiday, they always ask you how your holiday was.’ (Olivia Poland)

 ‘I have been in Ireland two years now. It is a very nice country,
developed if you compare it with my country, but not very developed if
you compare it with other European countries.   (Roberto Bolivia)

 ‘I remember seeing a horse and cart delivering coal to houses with
dogs and kids running after them. It was very romantic and cute but
 you do not see it any more. This rural Ireland in the middle of
Dublin was amazing to me.’  (Monica Spain)

 ‘The land is wonderful, there are fields and forest, and it is all so
green. People say there is too much rain but where I come from it is
 all dry, hot and humid. I really enjoy the weather here. (Sujada India)

 ‘You can walk to most places here. You do not need to go abroad or
out of the city. You can just walk to places here.’  (Penny Korea)

 ‘My younger daughter was always top of the class in Irish language
and is always proud when she goes anywhere to say she is Irish.’
(Abdullah Lebanon)

 ‘I am at home here and cannot imagine being anywhere else.  Even in
Lithuania, I do not feel as much at home as I do in Ireland.’  (Ewa

‘In the last year, I have been pushing Ireland as a location for
making Indian films.  I have been trying to convince producers who
traditionally go to Switzerland, Australia to come and shoot here in
Ireland. ‘ (Siraj India)



New Voices at the Crossroads




Josephine O’Brien


ISBN:  978-1-905451-96-8


Price:  €15.00