HIGHLIGHTS

  • When Father McGLINCHEY arrived on Cheju in 1953, just as the destructive Korean War was ending, he found “farmers extremely poor, yet basically very talented, while 50,000 hectares of land lay idle.”
  • Upon completion of his language study in 1955, McGLINCHEY started his first pilot projects—teaching farmers improved hog raising.
  • The RMAF board of trustees recognizes “his mobilizing international support and foreign volunteers to modernize livestock farming in his adopted country.”

 CITATION

Productively utilizing hitherto idle uplands and mountain slopes is an urgent challenge for Asian agriculture as populations burgeon and lowlands no longer are capable of growing sufficient food. Especially is this true in the Republic of Korea where only 22 percent of the land surface is cultivated.

Making these uplands produce food demands a type of farming new to most of Asia, accustomed to emphasis upon cultivation of rice and other grains. The predicament is acute in localities like Cheju Island, where a volcanic rock formation allows all rainfall immediately to seep down and prevents irrigation. On these slopes livestock do best with improved grasses and legumes.

When Father McGLINCHEY arrived on Cheju in 1953, just as the destructive Korean War was ending, he found “farmers extremely poor, yet basically very talented, while 50,000 hectares of land lay idle.” He took heart from what he had seen accomplished with sound livestock management when he had accompanied his veterinarian father around similarly poor agricultural areas at home in Ireland.

Upon completion of his language study in 1955, McGLINCHEY started his first pilot projects—teaching farmers improved hog raising. Founding the Isidore Development Association, he secured U.S. Public Law 480 corn through the Catholic Relief Services and built a feed mill that became the focus for other community development efforts. More than 77,000 hogs have been sold profitably since then, including about 1,000 exported monthly to Japan.

A Central Training Farm of some 1,000 hectares is the model for total livestock development. From New Zealand have come the breeding stock for a flock of sheep, now numbering 1,600, and also grasses making pastureland five times more productive than with native varieties. Hereford cattle from Australia are raised successfully and crossbred with native stock. To resist the devastating typhoons that periodically lash Cheju, McGLINCHEY constructed buildings on the principle of the ancient, vaulted Ctesiphon arch of Baghdad.

Today the Isidore Development Association is cooperating with 300 farm families to upgrade their cattle and hog raising. Abandoning his earlier lecture-type training courses as ineffective, McGLINCHEY has 78 trainees at one time living and working on the farm for 6 to 12 months. Upon returning to their villages, they are eligible to borrow one-half of the capital needed to buy sows or breeding cows from the credit cooperatives that have been organized.

This program offering practical benefit to farmers attracted private relief assistance from Germany, England, New Zealand, and Ireland for acquiring tractors and other equipment, breeding stock and for building plastic-lined reservoirs. Volunteers have come from Scotland, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, each to contribute his special skills; with the “crazy, redheaded foreigner” they are giving hope to fellow farmers on bleak Cheju Island.

In electing Father PATRICK JAMES McGLINCHEY to receive the 1975 Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Understanding, the Board of Trustees recognizes his mobilizing international support and foreign volunteers to modernize livestock farming in his adopted country.

 RESPONSE

I wish to express my deepest gratitude to the Board of Trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation for electing me as the 1975 Awardee for International Understanding. Never in all my life, did I imagine that such a signal honor would be conferred upon me and I am considerably overwhelmed by the glory of it all. Since the announcement of the Award was made, I have been deluged with congratulatory cables, telephone calls and letters from people of all walks of life from all over Korea—from Cardinal Kim of Seoul, from high government officials and from farmers. I have lost count of all the newspaper, magazine, radio and television reporters who made the long journey to our farm area on Cheju Island. What I found truly astonishing and delightfully surprising was the genuine pleasure manifested by all, in my receiving this Award despite the fact that the Koreans have suspected for some time that I am not a Korean but an Irishman. It has often been said that Korea is the Ireland of the East and that Ireland is the Korea of the West. The people of both countries work very hard, if the occasion demands it. They both put up a hard fight for their rights. They are both of generally friendly disposition, do a great deal of singing and consume considerable quantities of alcoholic beverages—which is probably why they do a great deal of singing. Whether or not it is because of these similarities between the Koreans and the Irish, I do not know, but the genuine pleasure shown by them on this occasion is indicative of the extremely high regard they have for the prestigious Magsaysay Award.

I am, personally, truly gratified at receiving this Award for International Understanding. I have the honor of being a member of the Missionary Society known as the Columban Fathers. When we join the Columban Fathers in order to live as priests in the various countries of Asia, we do not abandon the citizenship into which we have been born. Rather we transcend this native citizenship and break down the boundaries of narrow nationalism to become citizens of the world. It is the avowed aim of every Columban Father to help build up and unite all the members of the human family, regardless of the superficial differences which divide them.

Since I became involved in working directly for the farmers of Korea, I have become aware of the existence of a vast reservoir of good will amongst government officials, businessmen and young professional experts and students of many different countries. Large numbers of people are sincerely concerned about the worsening situation of the world’s poor. They are casting about for ways and means to break through the spiral of poverty which holds so many millions of people in its grasp. The trouble is that the number of people in the world who are prepared to take the action necessary to break this spiral of poverty, is pathetically small. The problem will not be solved until the dignity of the human person is put at the very center of the scheme of things.

In President Ramon Magsaysay, the Republic of the Philippines has given to Asia and to the world a man who understood this fundamental principle clearly and who put it into practice. It is increasingly urgent that more and more people follow his way. What we need is a crusade, a great movement among those who have, to uplift those who have not. The economists and sociologists have long since indicated what basically needs to be done. But the narrow-minded selfishness must first be discarded. The great spirit of Ramon Magsaysay is an inspiration to us all to step out manfully upon the same high road trod by him.

In repeating my deepest gratitude for the signal honor on me here today, I pledge my utmost efforts to work for the betterment of the socioeconomic status of Korean farmers.

 BIOGRAPHY

PATRICK JAMES McGLINCHEY was born on June 6, 1928 in the village of Raphoe and grew up in the town of Letterkenny, both in County Donegal, Ireland. His father, Patrick McGlinchey, was a veterinary surgeon who spent much of his time teaching farmers improved methods of raising livestock. His mother, Sarah O’Boyle, was a nurse. Young PATRICK was the fifth in a family of six boys and three girls. He attended elementary and secondary school in Letterkenny and St. Columban’s College in Navan, Ireland, the major seminary for the training of Columban Fathers where instruction is university level but the institution is not registered as a university hence does not give degrees. Throughout his youth, his father’s influence was profound. “The personality and example of my father in trying to help poor farmers in Ireland was the major influence in my life,” he has written. “I spent all school vacations going around with him.”

In 1945 McGLINCHEY joined the Society of Saint Columban, a missionary order known as the Columban Fathers, whose foreign mission orientation goes back to its founder, the 6th century Irish missionary to Europe, St. Columban. Ordained a priest in 1951, McGLINCHEY was assigned to the South Korean diocese of Kwangju in June 1952. With the exception of his first year on the mainland in language studies, he has spent “all of my working life” on the island of Cheju.

Cheju is 60 miles off the southern tip of the Korean peninsula, across the Korean Strait from Kyushu, the southernmost of the three main islands of Japan. With a perimeter of 120 miles, it is by far the largest island in South Korea. At the center is Mt. Halla, an extinct volcano, whose slopes, rising to 6,349 feet, are covered with rocks, forest and scrubby grass. The soil is red lava, porous, with an inability to retain water. Therefore, although the island has moderate to heavy rainfall, the center of Cheju lacks a natural permanent water supply. The island and its people were the poorest in South Korea.

(For the complete biography, please email biographies@rmaf.org.ph)