Fr PJ McGlinchey


Father Patrick James McGlinchey (6 June 1928 – 23 April 2018), or Im Pi-je (임피제) in Korean, was an Irish Catholic missionary from Raphoe, County Donegal. He was credited with mobilizing international support and foreign volunteers to modernize livestock farming in South Korea.

McGlinchey arrived in Jeju, South Korea in 1954 under the auspices of the Missionary Society of St. Columban, and established the St. Isidore Farm in 1961. His work with the latter earned him the nickname "pig priest".

He received the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1975 and Ireland's Presidential Distinguished Service Award in 2014.

He died on 23 April 2018 at the age of 89 while undergoing treatment for myocardial infarction and kidney failure. After his death, he was named an Honorary Citizen of South Korea in June 2018 in a ceremony attended by his nephew. 

With thanks to Tom Coyner for the Image to the right

One obituary wrote "Jeju's blue-eyed saint passes away". The Irish-born priest first arrived in Mokpo, South Jeolla Province, during the Korean War in Apr. 1953. He went to live in Jeju the following year when he became the inaugural provost for Hallim Cathedral on Jeju Island. He was 25 at the time. 

Father McGlinchey would go on to spend the rest of his life in Jeju’s Hallim area – 65 years in total.

Father McGlinchey went to live with residents who were impoverished in the wake of the April 3 Uprising and Massacre, and the Korean War, sharing their suffering and joining them in regional development and social efforts. 

He would typically would go to bed until 4 in the morning, having spent the night tending to the sick senior citizens and tens of thousands of livestock animals that needed his care once the employees had gone home.

Most of Father McGlinchey’s efforts were done jointly with area residents. A large pig farm established in the 1960s and 1970s was first begun with 25 Hallim-area teenagers. Hallim Weaving, whose wool garments were described as South Korea’s highest in quality, was started with four young women from the area and an old loom sent by Father McGlinchey’s mother from Ireland; it would go on to create over 1,000 jobs. The Hallim credit union, which was the first of its kind when created with local Catholics, has become the main bank for Jeju residents today. Father McGlinchey also worked with the community to cultivate joint village pasture and lay the groundwork for pig and livestock farming cooperatives.

He once said defeatist attitudes and pessimism were formidable challenges he faced in his early years on the island. "The first Korean I learned is 'an-deop-ni-da' (No, it's not going to work)," he said during a Korea Times interview in 2015. He said farmers were the most difficult people to teach. He focused on training younger farmers to help them become the agents of change.

The St. Isidore Clinic, which was begun with foreign nun physicians and neighborhood youths, treated over 50,000 people a year. A nursing home Father McGlinchey founded by converting an employee office into a bedroom for a elderly citizen with no other place to go has since grown into a facility accommodating over 100 people. A kindergarten and a elderly citizens’ college with a hospice ward – which Father McGlinchey saw as even more necessary for a rural community – were also examples of development profits being used for the community’s welfare. Father McGlinchey laid the groundwork for both.

Father McGlinchey’s philosophy was that “the only true local development is when the resident community comes together to direct the development, and the gains that result must be used for the community’s welfare.”

PJ was awarded honorary citizenship after he died: View Article

St Isidore Farm

Click the link to find out more about the St Isidore Farm on the VisitJeju.Com website. If you get the chance to visit the farm, try the organic milk and the fresh real dairy Ice Cream made at the farm. 

On the next road (name the Fr McGlinchey road) you can find the catholic church, the Church of St Isidore, which offers services in Korean and English. 

The farm (or Ranch) has many scenic spots for tourists to enjoy their Ice Cream. Wedding couples can be seen enjoying a photoshoot amongst the scenery set in another time. Below, is the Google Map link to help you find your way, and a YouTube copy of a recent tribute to Father PJ, in Korean. 

Representatives of Inis Jeju GAA attended and are in constant contact with Fr Michael Riordan of St Isidore Church. Father Michael presented the trophies at the recent PJ McGlinchey Cup!

Some references:
Hankyoreh: 'Blue-eyed Saint'
Honorary Citizenship: PJ award from Korea