Origin & Work of Our Office


Bishop John Kirby

Chairman, IECE

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.


Joanna Joyce 

Coordinator Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas (ICPO)
Emigrant Officer, Irish Episcopal Council for Emigrants (IECE)

A native of Dublin, Joanna graduated from University College Dublin with an honours degree in Business and Legal Studies. She holds an LLM from Trinity College Dublin and was called to the Bar of Ireland in 2007. She spent several years practicing and lecturing in the areas of European Union law, company law, employment law and judicial review. In 2010 she was sponsored by the Bar Council of Ireland to undertake a three month placement with the Ohio Innocence Project. During this time she developed a strong interest in criminal justice and prisoners’ rights and upon returning to Ireland volunteered as a supervising lawyer with the Irish Innocence Project.

Joanna was appointed Coordinator of the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas and Emigrant Officer with the Irish Episcopal Council for Emigrants in September 2011.


Mrs. Bernie Martin 


Bernie is also a native of county Sligo.  Bernie 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.