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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
How do the new Irish see us? Are we a bunch of xenophobic tax evaders
Or is Ireland still that great little country, green of field and
In ‘New Voices at the Crossroads’, we see ourselves through the eyes
These are just two of over 50 people from 35 countries to be found
They tell us what brought them to Ireland. About what life was like
Their stories remind us that migrant workers cannot be neatly
Author Josephine O’Brien is uniquely placed to write this incisive
Currently working as a professor of language in Zayed University in
Teaching English here as a second or third language made her realise
'This book is about breaking those stereotypes.'
She leaves the last word to Mustafa from Bahrain: ‘I hope that one day
Some quotes from New Voices at the Crossroads’:
‘Things like tax evasion here are a national hobby and if you do not
‘I have never seen any mixing between Sudanese and Irish families.’
‘Every foreigner who has come here has come as an invader. I believe
‘If they [Africans] are driving an '07 or '08 car, the police will
‘You know, around 1997 the Bosnians were accused of many things here,
‘The question of Chinese integration into Irish society is mixed.
‘This government in Ireland does not want to make our lives easy.
‘Ireland is one of the best countries for Turkish people to live in.
‘Irish people know nothing about each other personally. They mainly
‘Irish people are very open. You meet them on the streets and in the
‘I have been in Ireland two years now. It is a very nice country,
‘I remember seeing a horse and cart delivering coal to houses with
‘The land is wonderful, there are fields and forest, and it is all so
‘You can walk to most places here. You do not need to go abroad or
‘My younger daughter was always top of the class in Irish language
‘I am at home here and cannot imagine being anywhere else. Even in
‘In the last year, I have been pushing Ireland as a location for
New Voices at the Crossroads