• St. Brendans Village, Mulranny, Westport, Co. Mayo, Ireland
  • +353 98 36036
  • info@safehomeireland.com


Safe Home Ireland is an Irish emigrant support service that provides a range of services to people considering returning/moving to Ireland, as well as recently returned emigrants.

The support that we offer includes an advice and information service, undertaking outreach/home-visiting with our clients and assisting qualifying older Irish emigrants to explore and secure long-term affordable accommodation, back home in Ireland.

Safe Home Ireland was established in the year 2000 to assist older qualifying Irish born emigrants to explore the option of returning to live in their native areas. The organisation was set up as a Pilot Project by a local GP and Safe Home Ireland Life President, Dr. Jerry Cowley.

Over the years, Safe Home has evolved from simply providing a housing option for older Irish born emigrants. Our work is now spread across the 26 counties and we provide supports to our applicants at every stage of their journey from the initial enquiry abroad to actual return home.


To ensure that anyone considering returning or moving to Ireland is given every opportunity to make an informed decision.


To act as the LINK for Irish emigrants both at home and abroad by providing advice, information, guidance and supports for those seeking permanent repatriation as well as those who chose to stay in their adopted country.


Safe Home Ireland is committed to working in partnership with all relevant agencies at home and abroad to offer a professional and person centered service to our client group.


Safe Home Ireland’s Strategic Plan covers 2023 to 2028 and outlines our mission, vision and values. During this Plan, we will focus on the following four strategic objectives:

  1. To explore housing options for returning Irish persons in crisis/challenging circumstances abroad.
  2. To support the Integration and Inclusion of returning Irish to feel socially included and to enjoy well-being on their transition back to community life in Ireland.
  3. To support Irish abroad to make informed choices about returning to Ireland.
  4. To ensure the development and sustainability of the organisation.



This report outlines the key highlights and impact of our work in 2023, including case studies and statistics. In 2023, we made 5,483 interventions including information provision, outreach, housing options and making connections with people worldwide. Click on the image to read the full report.


This report with accompanying videos includes first-hand experiences from people assisted by Safe Home Ireland from 2000 to 2021. Click on the image below to view the report or contact our office if you wish to receive a hard copy by post. You can also view the first in a series of videos by following following the link.



















Karen Mc Hugh joined Safe Home Ireland in May 2015. She is a Social Worker by profession and has worked in the migrant sector for most of her career, with Irish emigrants in London, immigrants to Ireland and now with returning Irish emigrants. Prior to becoming the CEO of Safe Home Ireland, Karen was the CEO of Doras, a migrant support charity in Limerick and was also the former Director of an Irish Centre in London. Karen is passionate about human rights, inclusion and social justice. Karen is a returned emigrant and knows first-hand the challenges faced by some Irish abroad, in particular the emotional bond and the pull factor to ‘come home for good’ to Ireland.

Contact Karen at: karen@safehomeireland.com


Based at the Safe Home office headquarters in Mulranny, Co. Mayo, Mary Ann tends to be the first point of contact for most enquiries. She also deals with day to day administration and finances.

Together with the Safe Home team, Mary Ann acts in a coordinating role between Safe Home clients, housing bodies and Welfare & Advice Agencies in Ireland and abroad.

Contact Mary Ann at: info@safehomeireland.com

Tel: +353 98 36036


Noreen, based in Galway, joined Safe Home in 2005 as Outreach & Advocacy Officer. Her role includes carrying out assessment home visits to our UK based clients, maintaining strong links with Irish welfare agencies abroad, liaising with housing agencies in Ireland as well as supporting both our returned clients and people who return independent of Safe home may need assistance in the initial settling in period. This can include advocating on their behalf  with various agencies such as the HSE and the Department of  Employment Affairs & Social Protection.

Contact Noreen at: noreen@safehomeireland.com


Based in Kerry, Brenda joined the team of Safe Home Ireland in 2002 as Outreach and Advocacy Officer. Her role takes her to the UK to visit applicants who are contemplating returning home as well as linking in with organisations that work with Irish Emigrants. Once applicants return home to Ireland Brenda will support and assist them with paperwork and accessing their benefits and services. Brenda loves meeting new people and supporting them in their return home. It can be a daunting task for many and it is good to be able to help smooth the way for someone who returns to live after spending most of their lives abroad.

Contact Brenda at: brenda@safehomeireland.com


Johnny B Broderick joined Safe Home Ireland in September 2021. He comes from a music management background. With contacts in many areas of the arts, and by engaging with the public through a number of media platforms, Johnny hopes this will enable the good work of Safe Home to reach a wider audience, particularly targeting those who may need to avail of the services and supports that we offer. With experience in event management, social media, fundraising and people management, Johnny B hopes all the knowledge that he has acquired over the years will help in the promotion and financial well-being of Safe Home Ireland. Johnny B spends his spare time writing poetry, songs and short stories, which he hopes will also benefit Safe Home Ireland.

Contact Johnny at: johnnyb@safehomeireland.com


Nova joined the Board of Safe Home Ireland in September 2020 and was appointed Chairperson on 7 th April 2021. Nova was born in Perth, Western Australia, and moved to Ireland in 2002 with her Irish husband. She is a qualified Social Worker with over forty years’ experience in statutory and voluntary settings. Nova’s earlier career was spent in Freemantle and Darwin, initially in community development roles, connecting with indigenous groups and communities, as well as child protection and family support.

Her work in Ireland has included community development roles in the Dublin, project management in the HSE in different areas of responsibility, such as Social Inclusion, Disability Services, and the care of Older Persons. In more recent years she has worked for private fostering organisations. Nova has served on several Boards and has extensive fundraising, marketing and HR experience. Nova initially lived in Dublin and now lives in Co. Leitrim with her husband. She is involved in Irish traditional music and has recently taken up golf.

Nova has personally experienced immigration and how to deal with the dilemmas of staying away from my family, which is at the core of Safe Home Ireland’s work!

At the age of sixteen Michael Joe went to London in search of greener fields. His first job was working in The Crown in Cricklewood, a meeting place for people from the  32 counties, which he said gave him a thorough grounding in the ‘University of Life’! By day Michael Joe worked on the buildings, known as ‘On the lump’, where he encountered many of the people Safe Home Ireland are now supporting, some of whom were living in lonely lodgings, seeking solace and company in places such as ‘The Crown’. Michael Joe said his fate placed a wonderful woman in his path and they journeyed through life together initially in London and then back at home in Mayo. Their daughter was labelled as ‘a slow learner’ and introduced him to ‘special schools’ where he got involved and eventually finishing up as Chairman of the ‘Parent Governer’s’. After nigh on thirty years of exile, Michael Joe and his family returned to his home place in Mulranny, Co. Mayo where he got involved with The Order of Malta, the local Amenity Centre, the Irish Farmers Association (IFA), and through Dr. Cowley (Safe Home founder/chairperson), got involved with St. Brendan’s Housing Dev. Co., also Mulranny Industrial Dev. Co., and Safe Home Ireland. As an afterthought, Michael Joe discovered by accident that he could write plays, which have been performed not alone in this country but wherever our diaspora congregate abroad. In the slipstream of life Michael Joe said he has two mottos – ‘I hang on to the coat tails of people more worthy than I’ and ‘but for the grace of God go I’.

Teresa works as Practice Manager in her husband’s GP Practice. She is married to Jerry and they have 5 children, 4 grandchildren and 2 dogs. As well as being a director and founding member of Safe Home she is also a director and founding member of Mulranny Day Centre Housing CLG. and the Rural, Island; Dispensing Doctors of Ireland. She along with her husband has run the Rural, Island & Dispensing Doctors Conference for the past 35 years. She worked alongside the ICGP and the University of Limerick to bid successfully for the WONCA World Annual Conference (World Organisation of Family Doctors) which is due to be held in Limerick in 2022. Teresa is actively involved in the community and is Secretary of the local Community Centre. Teresa has extensive fundraising and organisational experience and is involved in the organisation and running of two local and indigenous annual festivals – Mulranny Mediterranean Heather Festival and Cruinniu Bádoirí Acla (Achill Yawl Sailing Festival) both of which have been in existence for the past 25 years. Teresa’s Hobbies include photography, Dragon Boat Racing and most recently kayaking.

Niall Foley is a campaigns, policy and communications professional with experience in both the private and charity sectors. Graduating from the Dublin Institute of Technology in 2005 with a Masters in Journalism, Niall has a portfolio of work including broadcast, digital and print media. Based near Edinburgh, Niall currently works in a leadership campaigning and policy position within the sight loss sector.

London-born Niall has first-hand experience of the challenges and opportunities faced by the Irish diaspora in returning home to Ireland. He’s keenly interested in sports, creative writing, and is a faltering but enthusiastic Irish language learner – Is fearr Gaeilge bhriste ná Béarla cliste, after all!

Ann has a strong IT Leadership background with a BSc and MSc in Computer Science from UL. She has over 25 years’ experience working in corporate fintech industry in various roles as a software developer, project leader, product manager and now a VP of Technology leading a large team and projects at an enterprise level. Ann has a keen interest in social issues, particularly as it relates to older people. In the last few years she returned to education part time to complete studies in Community Development and Politics and Sociology in NUIG.  Ann is a Mayo native, now based in Galway, she is married to John and they have 3 teenage daughters.

Joan O’Flynn has wide-ranging experience in social policy research, policy and practice gained through working in the civil and public service. the  voluntary sector in Ireland and the community sector in Britain. Joan’s former roles include CEO and National President of the Camogie Association; Acting CEO of the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation; Director of the National Advisory Committee on Drugs and working on national drugs policy in the Department of Health; working in the Dormant Accounts Division and Social Inclusion Units in Departments of Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs and Department of Social Protection; Head of Communications and Public Education and Head of Programmes with the Combat Poverty Agency. Joan works as an independent consultant and occasional lecturer in social policy.

Michael D. Higgins was inaugurated as the ninth President of Ireland on 11th November 2011 and on 11 November 2018 he was inaugurated for a second term. A passionate political voice, a poet and writer, academic and statesman, human rights advocate, promoter of inclusive citizenship and champion of creativity within Irish society, Michael D. Higgins has previously served at almost every level of public life in Ireland, including as Ireland’s first Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht.

It is an enormous honour for Safe Home Ireland and all whom we work with to have the President of Ireland as our Patron. President Higgins has, like many in Ireland, seen generations of his family emigrate, he has a strong interest and empathy for the Irish emigrant community worldwide.

Seán Keane is an internationally renowned and distinctive sean-nós style singer and multi-instrumentalist from Co. Galway. Seán became Safe Home Ireland Ambassador in March 2021, in the year that we marked our 21st Anniversary, and is working closely with us to both elevate our profile and secure further support for our work.

Seán Keane said “I was delighted to be asked to be an Ambassador for Safe Home Ireland and I intend to take this role very seriously.  The work of Safe Home Ireland highlights a cause that is very dear to my heart, having been an emigrant myself, I got a first-hand insight into the myriad of mixed emotions of the Irish emigrant experience. From the good times of dance halls and friendships, to the loneliness and isolation faced by some who were forced to leave their home and loved ones behind. It is a great pleasure for me to be able to work with Safe Home Ireland in recognising all Irish emigrants who left Ireland in the hope of finding a better life for themselves and their families. Most importantly, I am committed to helping, where I can, those who now wish to return home again”. 

Dr. Jerry Cowley is the founder, former chairperson and appointed Life President of Safe Home Ireland on 7th April 2021.

In early 2000, Jerry had the vision to set up Ireland’s first national repatriation service to support qualifying older Irish emigrants to realise their dream of returning home to their native areas. 21 years on, Safe Home Ireland has directly supported 2,144 people return home to Ireland though its housing service. Through its information service, Safe Home Ireland has also helped countless others to research all that is involved in a move home and assisted with re-integration on return through its outreach support service.

Jerry is a qualified barrister and is a single-handed family doctor in a rural general practice in Mulranny, Co. Mayo. Jerry is a strong advocate of providing local rural services to retain local populations. He is the founder of Mulranny Day Centre Housing CLG, a not for profit organisation, comprising of a voluntary housing scheme, a nursing home and other ancillary community services. Jerry is also founder and chairman of the Rural Island & Dispensing Doctors Group of Ireland.

Jerry is fully supported by his wife Teresa and his family of five children as well as the local community.


Safe Home Ireland is fully committed to operating to high standards of good practice and transparency and has signed up to the following voluntary codes of practice:


Safe Home Ireland is fully committed to achieving the standards contained within the Statement of Guiding Principles for Fundraising.

Safe Home Ireland has considered the Statement and believe we meet the standards it sets out.

Click the links to read the following documents:

Safe Home Ireland declared ongoing compliance with the Charities Regulator New Governance Code in October 2022 and are committed to working on maintaining that compliance into the future.