Enduring legacy of Irish missionaries

FERGUS FINLAY’S column (Irish Examiner, May 31), dealing with his late brother Derek’s and other missionaries’ egalitarian motives, touched a chord.

Fr Derek Finlay, it appears, devoted the bulk of his life to helping the population in the South Pacific island of Vanuatu.

He was a man who, like thousands of other Irish missionaries, did phenomenal work for those in greatest need.

These Irish missionaries probably left our shores with the intention of bringing the natives closer to God, yet what they discovered was not a lack of faith, but basic human standards.

The effects of colonial mismanagement, venereal disease, the slave trade and, most of all, abject poverty were commonplace.

Missionaries such as the late Fr Finlay quickly realised the urgent need drastically to improve the quality of life of the locals - they set about doing so with remarkable success.

In my opinion, the Irish missionaries have done more to establish the reputation of Ireland as a caring nation than any other group.

John O’Shea


PO Box 19

Dun Laoghaire

Co Dublin

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