Jewish Records / Irish Jewish Community


A short history of the Irish Jewish Community.

The first reference to Jews in Ireland comes from the Annals of Inishfallen in 1077, which records that in a visit to the High King at Limerick "five Jews came over the sea ..... and they were sent back again". It is believed that they were merchants from Rouen in France.

Apart from a small number who came to Ireland in the 12th and 13th centuries, the next Jews to arrive came from the Iberian Peninsula, following the Spanish and Portuguese expulsions at the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th centuries. There are references to Sephardic Jews living in Ireland, in records dating back to the late 1600s. Cork and Dublin had cemeteries in the early 1700s and a community existed in Dublin from the 1660s. The Belfast community was formed in 1864.


The rise of anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe in the late 19th century brought an influx of Jews to Ireland.

They formed small communities in Derry, Lurgan, Limerick, Cork and Waterford, and greatly expanded the existing community in Dublin. The newcomers settled mostly in the Camden Street and Portobello areas where The Irish Jewish Museum is located today. The whole area was affectionately known as "Little Jerusalem" and the main Jewish shopping area was in Lower Clanbrassil Street, where in fact most of the shops were Jewish owned.

The expansion of Dublin city from 1946 onwards resulted in the movement of the Jewish population to the outer suburbs, causing a sharp decline of the Jewish population of the Dolphins Barn and South Circular Road areas. Consequently many of the existing prayer rooms and small Synagogues closed. The Walworth Road Synagogue, founded in 1917, was saved from destruction, renovated and restored. The building now is the Irish Jewish Museum, which was opened by Irish-born President Chaim Herzog of Israel in June 1985, during his State visit to Ireland. The Jewish population of Ireland numbered less than 2,000 persons in 1995.

The largest collection of Irish Jewish family records is maintained by Stuart Rosenblatt, whose website is www.irishjewishroots.com.

You can find out more about the Irish Jewish community at www.jewishireland.org.