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Mobile Themes Installed

I’ve installed new plugins here on Culture Hack that identify access by mobile devices such as the iPhone and others. If you are accessing from a mobile device and experience any difficulty please let me know and I’ll look into it.

My buddy Kenneth Makuak?ne pointed me to Mobi as a possible wireless provider with reasonable fees and no long-term commitments. Their site says they are not available on the neighbor islands yet, but Kenneth was able to get a signal from Hilo town and even our home when he visited last night. Apparently they are working on rolling out neighbor island coverage but not advertising it yet.

Posted in Apple, Technology.


Russ, Bernie and others have written eloquent pieces that address the concerns, whines and gripes of non-mobilites, long-time netizens, and mobile newbies. I’ve fit into several of these categories at various times, and had hoped to join the hardcore mobile generation during our now-aborted stay in Cork.

Upon return to east Hawai‘i island, I began to investigate our wireless options, and found them limited. Our area has neither DSL nor cable. My son’s Verizon mobile phone is only marginally usable on our lanai (porch) but nowhere in the house. He bought a 3G card that works near the eastern edge of our property, but not at the house, a mere 75 feet away. While the card is 3G, I don’t believe there is operating at anything near 3G speed, something confirmed by their coverage map.

AT&T/Cingular has not even rolled out 3G in the state of Hawai‘i, though it seems Honolulu is scheduled to receive it later in the year, with other more populous areas of the state getting coverage in 2008. An iPhone-equipped friend visited our home a few days ago, and we found his EDGE connection speed slower than my 56k dialup, which in reality only gets me around 32k. Finally, you can’t even see land that is in Sprint’s coverage area from our home, only about 8 miles south of Hilo. Coconut Wireless offers wireless broadband in our area, though the cost of installation is a bit high. At this point they appear to be our only option.

Posted in Hawai‘i, Technology.

WordPress 2.3 Ships

WordPress 2.3, code named “Dexter” (for jazz great Dexter Gordon), has shipped. I’m looking forward to taking it for a spin. Look for it to be implemented here on Culture Hack sometime this week.

Update: Site upgraded with no issues (knocks on wood). I also implemented the same template that I use on with a change in the color scheme. I like clean.

Posted in Technology.

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Final Thoughts On Our Dublin Disaster

We stopped in Las Vegas for a few days of R&R before heading back to Hawai’i. Flights were cheap and hotel prices reasonable in mid-week. Doing any gaming was out of the question with the string of bad luck we’ve been on, so we’ve just wandered the town, tried a few rides, saw Blue Man Group last night, and will perhaps catch a movie on this, our last day here.

There has been continuing interest in our case back in Ireland. I’ve received calls and emails from various newspapers, some of whom have written about our ordeal and are following up, others who have just learned about it. I really don’t feel much like talking about our experience in Dublin airport anymore; it’s water under the bridge. My sole hope in speaking to the press was that someone would read it who would have the power to act on our behalf, but no help was forthcoming. While the story has no happy ending, it did have several heroes, most notably Conn Ó Muíneacháin and Bernie Goldbach. Their efforts on our behalf were extraordinary.

Our use of social networks to get the word out is notable, and perhaps worthy of further analysis at a future date. Only my daughter carried a cell phone, but it did not have service (my wife and I brought phones intended to be activated upon arrival). My first call for help came in the form of a tweet, trying to find someone who could contact Conn to let him know we had been detained at the Dublin airport. Twitter and Jaiku became my primary means of communicating with folks in Ireland as we prayed for a miracle that would gain us passage through immigration. The miracle never came.

Many people I have spoken to, both in Ireland and Hawai‘i, are surprised to hear that we are not ruling out the possibility of a return to Ireland. Only time will tell. My wife and daughter would both like to return if an means can be found. We are not willing to take a chance again, so if immigration is now willing to pre-approve student dependents who meet their requirements as stated in their email to ICOS and we are able to obtain such pre-approval, we may return. There are other considerations and I would not say that I am overly-optimistic that it will happen, simply hopeful.

We leave for Hawai‘i tomorrow, and will be happy to see our families and friends again. It seems like we left the state much more than just three weeks ago. I’ll jump back into work again on October 1, and my daughter will return to Ke Kula ‘O N?wah?okalani‘?pu‘u School. We’re not sure at this point what my wife will do. She left her position at UH-Hilo, but as so many of the women in her office are or will soon be on maternity leave, I’m pretty sure they’d hire her back in a flash. It’ll be her call.

Mahalo again to everyone who followed this blog, offered their words of support, prayers and assistance, or simply just followed along as the drama unfolded.

Posted in Dublin Disaster, Ireland, Ph.d..

Heading Home

Aloha kakou. It is with a heavy heart that our family is packing up and will be headed home tomorrow, with a slight detour for R&R and to heal our wounds and souls. I received a fax from the Gardai Superintendent’s office that informed us that our appeal was denied; in his opinion the officer who refused us land was in compliance with immigration law and policy and was justified in his decision. Unfortunately the reason given to the Superintendent by said officer was that he claimed that we did not tell him the truth when he first asked us our purpose for entering the country. We are not the ones being untruthful here, and it is a shame, though understandable, that the superintendent would take this officer’s word and investigate no further. We were offered no opportunity to offer our side of the story (beyond what was contained in my appeal letter) or refute his. If he believed we were being deceitful, why did he initially offer to allow me into the country but refuse my wife and daughter? We are appalled beyond belief.

Shortly after receiving this fax we received further correspondence from UCC, which was a reply from the GNIB to the Irish Council For Internation Students.

“Students are not allowed to have dependants or visitors in the State. Dependants of students will be refused leave to land and refused registration. In exceptional circumstances students who have a stipend of €25,000 per annum or more can be granted a permission to stay. Application would have to have been made and approved before travelling to Ireland.”

So it seems that the door has closed completely, not only for us but other bona fide foreigners who could afford to live in Ireland for a short time, share our knowledge and culture. We have more than the required funds, however, we have are out of time. We are grateful for the efforts of all of our friends in Ireland, Hawai’i and elsewhere who have offered words of support and who acted strongly on our behalf. We’ll never forget you all and will be eternally grateful for your support. We never ran out of hope; we just ran out of time.

Keola, Marie and Denyce Donaghy

Posted in Dublin Disaster, Ireland, Ph.d..

Philadelphia, Monday, 17 Sept.

I decided to cease blogging activities for the past weekend as there was no indication that there would be any news until today, and so far this is little to report now either. The prognosis does not appear to be good for a reversal of our initial refusal, though indications are that a solo attempt to re-enter Ireland would not be impaired by that previous attempt. We’re holding on a bit more for news today, if none comes, I may return on short notice. I probably won’t announce it here for obvious reasons, however, it will be through normal immigration channels. If I am refused, we go home. If I am allowed in, I will simply try to clear the path for my wife and daughter’s return.

Another article appeared yesterday, in the Sunday Tribune, but it basically repeats the same story that has already been told. It is appreciated nonetheless.

Update #1, 3:30PM EST. I received a call from an officer at GNIB who was courteous enough but didn’t seem particularly happy to be speaking to me. He informed me that I would be receiving a response to my appeal letter by fax tomorrow morning. I asked if he had a minute for a few questions and he declined to talk to me, saying he would prefer that I wait until I received the fax.

We spoke to the principal of a school that is definitely fee-paying in Cork today. She was appalled when I related our story, though she had heard of similar issues regarding children of foreigners working and studying in Ireland. While she needed to confirm with her staff, she seemed quite sure that there would be room for Denyce in their school’s transition year program and that we would be able to arrange for enrollment and payment of fees from Philadelphia. That would be wonderful.

If this does happen we are seriously considering going back to Ireland later this week, all required documentation in hand. If they turn us away, at least we know we did everything in our power to make this year happen. My wife and I talked to Denyce about it, giving her the option of me going alone, us traveling to Ireland together, or turning back to Hawai’i, and she wants us all to go to Ireland together, even if there is the potential that they may find some other reason to deny us entry. I think that is an important lesson for our daughter – never give up on your dream.

Posted in Dublin Disaster, Ireland, Ph.d..

Philadelphia, Day 4

I hate to sound like a scratched record, but no postive news from Ireland today, though there is continued discussion on our case. Conn and Deputy Ruairi Quinn continue to champion our cause, not only for our benefit but to shed light on the inadequacy of and lack of clarity in policies related to dependent families of students traveling to Ireland. Conn and TD Quin appeared in a forum on KCLR radio in Kilkenny this morning, I’m sorry that I did not have time to post a link before the show. (Update: Ken McGuire has posted audio of the discussion. Mahalo Ken!)

I learned that our letter of appeal has reached the office of the Gardai Superintendent. I have no idea when he may read it or take action. I have been counseled not to get our hopes too high that he will reverse the decision.

Ray O’Hanlon of the Irish Echo called to see how we were doing and to see if there was any progress. It feels good when a reporter shows more genuine interest in you and your family and not just a story. He will follow up with the NY consulate and press for a statement.

Update #1, 1:30PM EST. It is 6:30PM in Ireland and I’ve received no encouraging word from there at all. It will be a long weekend as we await news and developments on Monday, but are going to try to get together with some of our Donaghy relatives in Philadelphia this weekend as we have mostly been hanging out with the Moore’s (my mother’s side) since arrival. We will be looking for futher educational opportunities for Malia as well and take advantage of what Philadelphia has to offer.

Posted in Dublin Disaster, Ireland, Ph.d..

Philadelphia, Day 3

I awoke this morning after the best night’s sleep I’ve gotten since we returned to the states on Friday evening, albeit with a nasty headache. There does not seem to be much else for us to do but play the waiting game; it’s all in the hands of folks in Ireland at this point. No news from there awaited when we woke up.

On the advice of my aunt and Conn we will be getting out of the house seeing the sights of Philadelphia today. It’s my daughter’s first visit here and wife’s second. Unfortunately there is no room in our luggage for souvenirs.

Update, 8:00PM EST. We had a nice day in center city, visited Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the King Tut exhibition at the Franklin Institute. We treated it as an educational day for our daughter and quizzed her on what she say during the day. We will post pictures later. It was good to get out of the house and get our minds off of things in Ireland, and probably for the best as we returned and found no new developments. UCC suggests awaiting the delivery of our appeal letter to the gardai superintendent. I just learned that it arrived in Dublin via FedEx about 12:38AM Dublin time, and I am hoping that delivery to the superintendent is swift, that he is available to read it quickly, and make a quick and positive decision on our behalf. I plan to get up early tomorrow to check news.

I’ve been asked by some friends back in Hawai’i, “Why are you putting yourself and your family through this? Come home and do your Ph.d. here or somewhere else.” I could give up, but am not ready to at this point. Neither is my family, and we talk about our situation every few hours. There is nowhere else in the world I would rather do my Ph.d. than in Ireland. I still feel this is a simple misunderstanding that could be cleared up if I was simply given the opportunity, and still believe that there is someone there who can and will give us a fair hearing on the matter.

Posted in Dublin Disaster, Ireland, Ph.d..

Philadelphia, Day 2

Aloha kakou, I’ve delayed posting today in hopes that an amicable resolution to our predicament could be found. UCC suggested that I write to the gardai superintendant in Dublin and request that he review our case and perhaps pave the way for our return to Ireland. It seems that there is no certainty that I would be allowed into Ireland at any port, even if traveling alone, in order to fulfill any requirements necessary to allow my wife and daughter to join me.

Our family is well. Our daughter has been sleeping late and staying up late to stay in touch with her friends in Hawai’i via chats and text. My wife and I actually got out of the house and walked around our aunt’s neighborhood in Glenside, PA. Nearly everything a person would need to live on is in walking distance to the house.

The Irish Echo ran our story today on their front page, and it is now online. My thanks to Ray O’Hanlon for not only the story but his warm words of encouragement. Ruairi Quinn TD, Spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade and Employment for the Labour Party made a strong statement on our behalf and vows to look into it. Both are deeply appreciated. I’ve been asked to call into the Newstalk radio program this evening, and am planning to do so. The Irish Independent requested a photograph, so they are also planning a story.

There have been two school of thoughts regarding the role of the press in assisting us. One is that any press could be bad, make immigration feel as though they are backed into a corner and cause them to defend their colleagues position. I understand that completely. My goal is not to embarass anyone. I’ve made clear my opinion that the immigration officer who met us was a dedicated public servant who misjudged our intentions and reasons for wanting to enter Ireland. I bear no ill will toward him or GNIS at all. My only desire is to return to Ireland, quietly, begin studies and allow our daughter to begin hers.

The second school of though it that press coverage can only help bring attention to our situation and perhaps bring it before someone sympathetic to it and who can help us. Others point out that our circumstances point out the lack of clarity in immigration policy for people in our situation, and shedding light on that could perhaps bring about reform. That would be wonderful.

While I straddle these two points of view, I cannot help but feel we must do whatever we can, being proactive rather than passive. I would rather return home to Hawai’i knowning that we did everything within our power to fix this than go home wondering if we should have done more. I am by nature a quiet and reserved person, and do not seek out the spotlight, though sometimes my work at the College of Hawaiian Language places me in it. I will accept the attention that our plight gives us if it will simply return us to Ireland to being our dream.

Posted in Dublin Disaster, Ireland, Ph.d..

Philadelphia, First Full Day

Aloha kakou. If you are visiting this blog for the first time and have done so after hearing about our plight and being refused to land in Ireland, you may wish to first read the post Donaghy Saga In Ireland, which details our ordeal at Dublin immigration. Then read the posts above them after.

We woke up this morning in Philadelphia with no news from Ireland. I will update this post later rather than creatinga new one in order to keep the primary post on this main page. Mahalo again to all for your efforts on our behalf and letters of support during this difficult time.

Update #1, 10:30AM EST. I spoke to our contact at UCC, who reached someone at the Gardai Superintendant’s office. We were advised to file a formal, written appeal. I don’t think we have time for this. Hoping that other inquiries bear fruit. No word from Irish consulate in NY today.

I spoke to Roy O’Hanlon at the Irish Echo newspaper in NY, who learned of our situation from Lá Nua. Roy is working on a story, but I fear that its publication may be too late to help our cause. If it does result in any changes that prevent situations like this from occuring in the future that would be wonderful.

I was reminded of one aspect regarding the urgency of our situation. Part of the motivation for our traveling to Ireland for this school year is that this Denyce’s junior year in high school. Next year (2008-2009) will be her final year in high school, and we very much want her to enjoy that senior year with the classmates she has known since she was in preschool. Her school’s graduation ceremony is steeped in Hawaiian tradition and the culmination of our combined efforts to keep the Hawaiian language alive. We would not want to have her miss that. While there is a chance that I could still go to Otago in Aotearoa (New Zealand) in the spring and complete their program and return for her to enter her senior year at Nawahiokalani’opu’u, I’m not certain I would be emotionally prepared after our experience last week. Time will tell. Returning to Ireland next fall is not an option for us.

Update #2 6:15Pm EST. No major developments to report today. UCC has made contact with the appropriate individuals to determine if I may return to straighten things our or not, and may have an answer tomorrow morning. Received two phone calls from Ireland, Conn and Liam, that were comforting and encouraging. We’re still not ready to pack up and head home, and will stay in Philadelphia at least until the weekend, and perhaps through the weekend if a glimmer of hope is still visible.

Posted in Dublin Disaster, Ireland, Ph.d..

Meet The Family

I’ve talked about myself and my work in previous posts, but have neglected to introduce the other two individuals who are caught up in all of this. My wife Marie was born on Maui. We met through mutual friends and her younger sisters while we were both in high school, and she was actually my first date. I was close to her family, but romance did not bloom until nearly 10 years late, when we both were in our late-20s. We married in 1989, and our daughter Denyce Kathryn Malia Donaghy was born on Maui in 1991. Marie worked for our College of Hawaiian Language for the past two years, and only left her position in order to join me on this trip to Ireland. She arranged travel for our staff and faculty, and also kept track of funds for some of our grants.

Our daughter Denyce, known to our Hawaiian-speaking friends by her second middle name Malia, has been a Hawaiian immersion student since age three. She is now 16. I began using Hawaiian with her as an infant, and she took to immersion education like a fish to water. She started out at the Punana Leo o Hilo Hawaiian immersion preschool, then Keaukaha Elementary School’s Hawaiian Immersion site, and finally moved to Ke Kula ‘o Nawahiokalani’opu’u in fourth grade where she had been until last week. She is currently a junior (11th grade). She’s been an excellent student, involved in many school activites, and has rarely missed a day of school. She audited some Hawaiian music and dance classes at our college while only 9 years old, and amazed my colleagues with her maturity in the classroom. This past summer, she was one of 30 students selected nationally to attend the presigious CURIE Academy at Cornell University in New York. The program is for female high school students from under-represented minorities in math and the sciences who have a strong interest in these fields. She also worked at Hale Kuamo’o, our Hawaiian language center, for part of the summer, and assisted in formatting and producing curriculum materials for the immersion schools.

We are now in Philadelphia at the home of my mother’s sister. No significant news regarding our status arrived today; we are hoping that the wheels of progress are moving beyond our view, and that by tomorrow morning we will have some direction on how to proceed. Mahalo to everyone for your emails, tweets, and Jaikus of encouragement.

Posted in Dublin Disaster, Ireland, Ph.d..

No Joy Yet

It’s 10:30 AM EST and no word from the folks in Cork, I am hoping that they are busy paving the way for our return, or at least attempting to do so. Contacted the Irish consulate in NY this morning and was advised that they could look into the situation for us and advise a course of action, but not much else.

My aunt who lives in Philadelphia is driving to pick us and our spirits up this afternoon, and take us back to Philly to be around family. We could use it right now. I’m hopefully that my plan to return to Cork alone sounds feasible to the folks in Cork and and the consulate, and that perhaps I can fly out tomorrow or later in the week.

Our ordeal also made the front page of Lá Nua, an Irish language newspaper with a large following. Mahalo as always to Conn for helping to get word out regarding our plight.

Posted in Dublin Disaster, Ireland, Ph.d..

New York, Day 3

I woke up at 4AM EST unable to return to sleep. Gee, I wonder why. As I looked over at my wife and daughter sleeping, I was filled with admiration for them. Both have handled this stressful event very well. My wife remained quite calm during our ordeal at Dublin immigration, allowing me to speak to the officer. Perhaps he would have been more receptive to her. While my daughter showed some signs of the stress she was under, she kept her wits about herself, and frequently offered ideas and questions to ask the officer. Most I had already asked and some probably would not have helped very much. I was quite proud of both of them, and it was good to see some smiles and hear laughter from them as we went out into town yesterday. Thanks goodness for free wireless broadband in the hotel room; Denyce has been making ample use of it to chat with her friends back home. She hasn’t told them about her ordeal yet, though I’ve been in contact with her principal who also sent words of encouragement.

It’s hard for me to imagine what it must be like for her, having been raised and educated in such nurturing environments. Her teachers and our faculty are like her second family. Teachers greet the children each morning with a kiss on the cheek and sometimes a hug. I do the same with many of my colleagues. It is our way. It may seem shocking to people from the mainland or Europe that parents would allow this. I don’t simply allow it, I would be appalled if it didn’t happen. I expect it. It is our way.

Malia’s principal expressed her pride in how she is handling this, and that it is a valuable lesson in how things work in the rest of the world. I knew it was a lesson that needed to be learned, but it was painful to watch nonetheless. I am hoping that with lesson learned she will be able to soon experience the cead mile failte (hundred thousand welcomes) that is more representative of Ireland.

I’m still waiting to hear back from UCC ISO to see if they have had any contact with GNIS (Gardai National Immigration Service) in Cork to see if my plan to return to Cork alone to pave the way for their return is feasible.

Posted in Dublin Disaster, Ireland, Ph.d..

Jumping The Que: My very bad, perhaps fatal, error?

It’s come to my attention that I committed a serious transgression of cultural protocol while waiting to be processed at the immigration bureau. Because of the large streams of people merging from several different flights, I got separated from my wife and daughter, who found themselves two or three groups ahead of me in the cue. There were no ropes, just a mass of people who organized themselves into lines in the middle of the room, and which merged as they got closer to the immigration officers’ booths.

Once my wife and daughter got up to the immigration officer, I went up to meet them as they had only their passports, while I had the rest of their documentation. When I greeted the immigration officer I explained that I had all of the documentation for my wife and daughter, and he gave me no indication that I did anything wrong at that point. According to third-hand information whose accuracy I do not doubt, this is termed “jumping the cue”, was cited as a reason for the officer being suspicious of me, and I am profoundly sorry for this. While this alone probably did not cause our rejection, I’m certain that it did not help. Perhaps I should have waited for him to signal me to come forward, or have them move back in the cue to join me.

In Hawai‘i this act is common. Family members join other family members in line at airports, theaters, restaurants and other venues, and does not result in any complaints. I myself frequently allow senior citizen or mothers struggling with young children ahead of me in the market. It is one aspect of “aloha”, a term known by many but completely understood by few. In the old days, if a passenger was late to arrive for a flight and may miss it, the other local passengers generally allowed them to jump to the front of the line so that they did not miss their flight. The only passengers that would ever complain were visitors who were not familiar this practice. Since 9/11 things have gotten much stricter, and I’ve noticed that TSA officials do not allow anyone to “jump the cue” in the security line. As more and more people move to Hawai‘i from the US mainland and Asia, this courtesy may soon be as extinct as many of our native animal and plant species.

I have witnessed several instances of attempted cue jumping here in our short time in New York. The very first was at the US Customs booths at JFK, and the offender, seemingly unaware of his behavior, was berated by an African-American woman with a strong opinion regarding the offender’s lineage. Just two hours ago it happened again at Queen’s Center Mall, specifically at the New York and Company store. We were second in line waiting for teller. At one point an employee waived to someone five or six people back in our line, and that individual moved toward her at the cashier. The customer in front of us was furious, and berated the employee. It turns out the person at the back of the line was an also employee, and could only be helped by the one that called him. That did not satisfy the woman in front of us.

I’m wondering how much my language, body language and other mannerisms may have affected our encounter with the immigration official in Dublin. As I explained earlier, our trip had begun 36 hours prior to our encounter in Dublin, during which I had about two hours sleep. Perhaps there was something in my body language, mannerisms or voice that made the gentleman suspicious. I was completely honest with him, and perhaps I seemed to be trying to hard to be sincere. I really don’t know.

What I do know is that we were not allowed to speak to this individual’s supervisor, who we were informed endorsed his decision. My daughter later told us that she asked him if there was anyone else we could possibly talk to, and he replied he had already talked with him. We were never allowed to fully present our case or explain the details of our plans, or present all of our documents. Folks at UCC and other friends have apparently talked to others in the gardai who have repeated the information given to them by the officer we encountered. They know no side of the story but his. Perhaps they feel no need to. I assume that he is a well-respected, experienced immigration official who has the confidence of his superiors. I’m hoping that there is an open-minded individual in the immigration office who could read all of these posts, hear the sincerity of my thoughts, understand the goodness of our hearts, and help our family return and reside in Ireland soon.

Posted in Dublin Disaster, Ireland, Ph.d..

New York, Day 2

It’s been about 48 hours since our debacle at the Dublin airport, and feeling a bit under the weather this morning; probably due to the stress and lack of adequate sleep. I’ve received mostly positive feedback to my idea of coming back to Ireland alone, along with some suggestions.

I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the continuing responses from my friends and acquaintances in Ireland to our situation. Dave Winer, whose software I used for many years and whose writings I follow closely, has written extensively on “friendship” and how the term is bandied about somewhat loosely by netizens. I’ve never had the opportunity to meet any of the people who have been so supportive of us face-to-face, yet they are genuinely moved to write eloquently on their blogs and make phone calls to authorities on our behalf in their attempts to assist in our entry. Conn and his family offered us lodging and transportation while we got ourselves settled into Cork. These are not things people do for mere passing acquaintances. Whether we are able to get this situation resolved quickly or forced to return to Hawai‘i, I will never forget the efforts made on our behalf, and vow that I will be able to thank my friends in person some day, no matter what the cost.

Conn’s additional commentary this morning brought me to tears. On a professional level, he is correct. I have a tenure-track assistant professor position at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. I was granted this position without a Ph.d. because at the time my Masters in Hawaiian Language and Literature was the terminal degree in the field, and because our university system’s president agreed with our faculty that I possessed a unique set of skills that were essential to the continued success of our college’s programs.

I don’t need to be in Ireland for the sake of my job. I had many options when I began researching my options for doctoral research, both within the US and outside. My own college offers a Ph.d. in Indigenous Language and Cultural Revitalization – the only such degree in the world that I am aware of. As a faculty member, I could have pursued that degree at nearly no cost to myself. I was offered a spot in the Ph.d. program at Otago University in New Zealand, where the exchange rate is much more favorable to people from the US, but after searching my soul I knew I wanted to return to the land of my ancestors to continue an experience that began five years ago when my wife and I attended Oideas Gael.

Some of my colleagues would have preferred that I remained in Hawai‘i, at our own college, to pursue my Ph.d. in our fledgling program. But they supported my desire to go abroad, even at the cost of me being away for nine months, because they knew how badly I wanted to return to Ireland, and because they recognized the value and benefit to our college to have someone with a Ph.d. from a prestigious institution such as University College Cork.

I do not need to be in Ireland for professional reasons. I need it for my soul.

Ten years ago I had little interest in Ireland or my own Irish heritage. I was busy working among those in the Native Hawaiian language and cultural programs, and solely focused on their technology needs. They accepted me as one of their own, despite the fact that I do not have any Hawaiian ancestry myself. When I entered our college’s MA program, one of the requirements was that each student spend time in a place where a people were facing issues with maintaining their native language and culture. I had no interest in traveling, and after acceptance considered petitioning our professors to excuse me from this requirement and allow me to complete some other project in its place. However, I had already begun to hear about the gaelscoil program and other efforts to perpetuate the use of the Irish languages. The more I read, the more excited I became about the prospect of visiting Ireland and talking to people involved in these programs. In 2002, that dream was fulfilled – my wife and I spent a month in Ireland, including 3 weeks of studying the Irish language at Oideas Gael in Co. Donegal. Since that time I have tried to find a way to return, and believed I had done when I was accepted by UCC.

I’m not giving up hope.

Posted in Dublin Disaster, Ireland, Ph.d..

New Idea On Immigration Fiasco. Thoughts Anyone?

  1. That I travel alone to Shannon or Cork early next week, Monday or Tuesday, if the situation is not cleared up by Monday, and leave my wife and daughter with relatives in Philadelphia or at the hotel in NY. Even the officer in Dublin stated I could enter but my wife and daughter could not. Not certain if the reason stated in his refusal letter could come back to bite me in the arse.
  2. I go to Cork and try to get my daughter into a school that is acceptable to immigration, and clarify their status with immigration there. Perhaps I can even get this process started by phone and email, I do have contact information from some that I am confident will be acceptable, and can confirm this with immigration.
  3. Once I have documents from the new school I have them fly over to Shannon or Cork and meet them there.
  4. Celebrate happy ending.

Posted in Dublin Disaster, Ireland, Ph.d..

Clarification And Further Thoughts From NYC

I’ve been following the blog posts by my friends in Ireland, and the comments they have generated. To clarify on a couple of points:

  1. Regarding St. Aloysius’ and my possible disregard of immigration requirement of enrolling Denyce in a “private” school: I cannot find the specific correspondence, but I did contact UCC ISO (International Student Office) who I believe (this is the detail that I cannot find in my emails) ran our arrangement by immigration officers in Cork who found it acceptable. I am not completely clear on that last point, but know that I did discuss it with ISO. The main concern seemed to be that we did not place a burden on the Irish state.
  2. In my discussion with the officer at Dublin, St. Aloysius’ seemed to be a peripheral topic, and that the overriding issue was that dependents of those carrying student visas were not allowed at all, contrary to the information provided by Cork officials to UCC. In retrospect, I probably should have been in direct contact with the immigration offers myself, however, felt that ISO would be more than capable of handling the issue. I misread an early email from UCC and thought that they were more familiar with this kind of situation. Apparently I was a first for them, or at least for the person that was assisting us.
  3. Regarding immigration control: I don’t advocate free and open borders anywhere. I’m part-native American myself, and have lived among native Hawaiians for most of my life, though I myself am not. Lord knows both of these people would have been much better off had they been able to control immigration early and with vigor. I have never brought up the number of Irish, both legal and illegal, who have emigrated to the US, though others have. It is not germane to the discussion AFAIAC. As one commenter put it: a sovereign nation that cannot control its own borders can hardly be called sovereign.
  4. Some have suggested that perhaps UCC could provide employment to me that would help my family accompany me. I had been asked to teach a class in Hawaiian music to upper-level students at UCC in the spring semester. I mentioned this to the immigration officer in Dublin, but did not want to push the issue as I though it could only complicate the discussion. We have not discussed in depth whether the school will provide me a tuition reduction in exchange for my lecturing, if they can pay me, or how else. Even before the incident in Dublin, I was prepared to forgo any compensation for teaching the class just to see it offered. I was simply happy that I would be able to share the music and culture of Hawai‘i with students at UCC.

I am not asking for anyone to be held accountable for what is happening, nor am I interested in assigning blame for our situation. I would simply like to find a way to land in Ireland, start my Ph.d. and allow my daughter to spend a year going to school there, at no cost or inconvenience to the Irish people. I want to move forward and if possible forget about our experience in Dublin. If I were allowed to do so I would happily meet with the officer who refused our entry and buy him a meal and a drink. He was obviously a dedicated public servant who took pride in his job and acted as he felt necessary. If our experience results in changes that saves future students the hardship we have, that would be wonderful and perhaps provide a second happy ending to our tale.

What is most important to me is that people in Ireland who read about our story understand that we acted in complete good faith, feeling we had done everything required of us. We enjoyed the hospitality of Ireland for a month just over five years ago, and I enjoy it daily in my interactions with Irish people on the social networking space. They are a close second to the people of Hawai‘i in their kindness and generosity, though I am certain there are plenty of horror stories of people visiting Hawai‘i and the U.S. as well. We are quiet, humble people by nature, and would simply like to experience Ireland to the fullest, and expose to anyone who is interested our knowledge of Hawaiian language and culture.

Posted in Dublin Disaster, Ireland, Ph.d..

New York, Day 1

I woke up around 9AM, wife 11AM and daughter after 1PM. I had hoped to wake up realizing that it all had been a bad dream, but alas it wasn’t. I woke up in the same bed I went to sleep in at the Crown Plaza Hotel, Jamaica, New York last night. I can’t thank the many friends in Ireland who tried to help and those who are spreading the word enough. It’s hard not to be effusive with our thanks.

I’m a quiet person by nature, non-confrontational whenever possible, and this is probably one of our downfalls. I expected to be asked a few question, provide honest answers, and be admitted. In retrospect, perhaps I should have been more assertive, and insisted that the immigration officer review all of the documents that I brought with us. Still, I feel that he made his mind up very quickly regarding our (un)acceptability and don’t believe he would have been swayed. Furthermore, I was very concerned that any further discussion would possibly have let to my detention in their holding cell or even arrest. This is not something that I wanted to see, nor something I have wanted my daughter to witness.

I’ve spent the day sending tweets, jaikus and emails from our hotel room. Some of it have been to well-connected friends, others friends in the press. The last thing I really want to do is to stir up a shit-storm. All I want to do is to be admitted to Ireland, and am hoping that by publicizing our plight it will be brought to the attention of someone who can do something about it.

My wife and I have talked, and we are willing to spend the week in New York and hoping that by some miracle a path can be found that will allow us to return to Ireland before the start of the school semester there and before my daughter has to return to Hawai‘i before missing too much more school.

Posted in Dublin Disaster, Ireland, Ph.d..

The Donaghy Saga In Ireland

September 8, 2007

Aloha mai kakou (greetings to all)

My name is Joseph Donaghy, and I am an Assistant Professor of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. Some of you may know me by my Hawaiian name Keola. It is not my legal name, but given to me in my youth by a Hawaiian family that I was very close to, and I have used it for many years.

Late last year I applied to the Ph.d. program in ethnomusicology at University College Cork, and received my word of my acceptance early this year. I immediately contacted the International Student Office and began to make arrangements to travel to Cork and begin study in September 2007. Very early in this process our contact there became aware that my wife and daughter traveling with me could be an issue. She made several calls to the Gardaí immigration office, and got several different answers. After several months she indicated that their local Immigration had checked with GNIB Head Office, and they were informed that “if the student had sufficient funds and the child was registered in a private school there shouldn’t be a difficulty.”

We were checked around for schools for our daughter Denyce (Hawaiian name Malia), and enrolled her in St. Aloysius’ school near the University. The principal informed us that Denyce could enroll in the school, and that we could reimburse the school the capitation fee that they receive from the state, along with some other administrative fees. She stated that there was plenty of room in the school’s transition year program, and added that “her presence here will add to the educational experience of our Transition Year students and we are delighted to have her on roll.”

To cover the financial side, we brought with us a bit over $4,000 Euro in cash, a bank statement showing a balance of over $10,000 US that we would be able to wire to an Irish bank upon arrival, and a bank statement showing a credit line of over $55,000 US available to us. We did this to be able to demonstrate that we had the financial resources to live in Ireland without being a burden to the state.

Upon our arrival on September 7 we went straight to immigration, and were greeted by an immigration officer. We showed him our passports, I identified myself as someone who was accepted as a student at UC-Cork. I explained that as we were instructed that we had exit tickets to England within three months, and that we had arranged for our daughter to attend St. Aloysius’ school in Cork. He asked how much we were paying and told him that we were told we only needed to reimburse about 500 Euro, the amount of the capitation fee that the school would normally receive from the state. To make sure that we were safe, I contacted the Southern regional office of the Department of Education and Science and explained our situation. They told me that we were free to enroll Denyce in any school we wished.

I don’t recall at what point specifically I detected that there was a problem. He remained very courteous, but the officer was clearly not happy with what I was telling him, and uttered “no no no no no” and told us we could not come into the country, and that dependents of people traveling on student visas were not allowed into the country. I asked if they could come just on a three month visa, and he replied no. He said that I could stay in the country, but my wife and daughter would have to leave. I explained that was not an option for us, and that if we were not allowed in the country that I would have to leave with them. I asked if I could come in on just a visitor visa with them and work the situation regarding school out later, and was told no.

We were asked to stay in the waiting area while the several officers processed passengers from our large flight and several others. When the crowds subsided the officer came over and talked to us. He remained very pleasant and courteous throughout the entire encounter, but explained that if we were paying only 500 Euro that St. Aloysius’ was not a private school and that our fees would be much higher. I produced a short email from the principal of St. Aloysius stating that they had accepted Denyce. He replied that this was insufficient. I told him that the International Student Office at UC-Cork had worked with the immigration office in Cork and that they were told that my wife and daughter could stay as long as they were not a burden on the state. I asked if his speaking with our contact there would help, and he said it would not. Our contact there did call on our behalf later, and was informed of the law, and that there was nothing else to be done. It was quite clear to me at this point that the officer had made up his mind and that nothing I could say would convince him otherwise.

The officer informed us that the only flight back to Los Angeles had already left, and that while my wife and daughter would be allowed to stay the night in Dublin, I would be required to remain in detention until the next day. I asked if they could get us to anywhere else in the US that day. He replied that they were obligated to return us to our port of departure, but that if we wished to be returned to someplace closer, that was our prerogative, but they would not pay for us to get back to LA. I said that was not an issue, and if possible we could go back to New York, Boston or Chicago, in that order of preference. We ended up being sent back to New York later that afternoon.

He did return a few times to check on us, another officer came by and asked if we were hungry and needed anything to eat. We have no issue at all with any of the officers that we encountered, and we in turn treated them with the same consideration. Perhaps I should have pressed our case harder, but as a former police officer myself we remained respectful of his authority. He did mention at some point in the process that he had checked with his superior, who supported his decision to deny us entry. I offered to show him some of the correspondence I had with both UCC and St. Aloysius’ but he did not wish to look at it. I never received the opportunity to show him any of our financial documents, either.

At one point in our conversation I mentioned that it had been suggested to us to simply claim we were coming as visitors in Dublin and deal with immigration when we got to Cork. He asked who told us to do that, and if it was anyone from the university. It was not, and I don’t even recall which of the many people I’ve spoken to on the internet while we were planning our trip suggested this. Regardless, we never considered trying to be deceptive, and the price of our honesty was being refused entry. I was flabbergasted that the reason given by the officer on our refusal letters was to cite the Immigration Act 2004, section K. which states:

That there is reason to believe that the non-national intends to enter the State for purposes other than those expressed by the non-national.

He never once indicated to me that he felt we were being untruthful, and that the sole reason for our being refused entry was the fact that dependents were not allowed to accompany those traveling with student visas. While I noticed this during out detention, I did not challenge him on it. There were several individuals being held in a small room adjacent to the waiting area, and I believe that if I challenged his authority or opinion that perhaps I would be forced to join them and leave my wife and daughter alone in the waiting area. My daughter was particularly distraught, and did not want to have her see them taking me away to a different holding area. We had also been up for over 36 hours traveling for over 24 of them from Hawai‘i with a brief visit with my brother during our LA stopover, and I had gone nearly sleepless the entire time.

While we had no working phone, there was Internet access in the area, so I quickly contacted my many friends in Ireland, asking if they knew anyone who could possibly help. They did their best but to no avail. After about two hours the officer came by and mentioned that it seemed half of the island had called on my behalf, but that they all got the same answer. He did not state what that answer was, but I knew that it was the same on we had received – that would have to leave.

We were taking to an Aer Lingus plane shortly before 5PM. I thanked the officer for his kindness before we left. It had been one of the worst days of my life, but it certainly could have been worse if he and the other officers had not been as courteous as they were. We arrived at JFK airport in New York later that evening, and are currently staying at the Crown Plaza Hotel in the JFK area. Don’t let the name fool you, the hotel is hardly royal in stature. We will remain here into early next week, hoping for a miracle that will allow us to return to Ireland. If it doesn’t happen, we will likely return to Hawai‘i late next week.

As disappointed as I am for myself, I am devastated for my daughter, who was really looking forward to spending a year among students in a foreign land, and being an ambassador for bother her own school and Hawai‘i. My wife was looking forward to spending a year exploring Cork, at no cost to the state, learning the arts, and probably spending a lot of time with the young children of our many friends there.

I understand the need for immigration laws and officers. We went to Ireland in good faith, believing that we had done everything required of us to enter and stay in the country. We were completely honest with the immigration officer, no matter what he thinks to the contrary. If anyone reading this letter can help in any way, please contact me at or Please feel free to forward this letter to anyone you think could help us. I can send you our cell phone number. Unfortunately the phone in our hotel room is not functioning. I have mentioned no names in this letter because this is not a personal issue. I can send the name of the immigration officer privately if it would help.

Mahalo nui loa, go raibh mile maith agat.
Keola, Marie and Denyce Donaghy
Hilo, Hawai‘i

Posted in Dublin Disaster, Ireland, Ph.d..

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