Muslim community in Republic celebrates Eid as month of fasting ends

About 2,500 people attend event at Clonskeagh mosque to mark end of Ramadan

A Muslim woman and children at an ice-cream van at the Islamic Cultural Centre in Clonskeagh, Dublin, during the festival of Eid-al-Fitr. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

A Muslim woman and children at an ice-cream van at the Islamic Cultural Centre in Clonskeagh, Dublin, during the festival of Eid-al-Fitr. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Tue, Jul 29, 2014, 01:00

Events have taken place across the State to celebrate the Islamic festival of Eid-al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting.

Prayers were offered yesterday morning at the Islamic Cultural Centre in Clonskeagh, Dublin, where 2,500 people also turned up for a day of entertainment and refreshments.

Throughout Ramadan, Muslims are expected to abstain from food and drink (including water) during daylight hours. The fast follows the Islamic lunar calendar, which means it starts about 11 days earlier each year, and is particularly challenging during lengthy Irish summer days.

Family oriented

“We had to start our fast at about 2.30am and then we broke our fast at about 10pm, a very, very long time. Close to the end of Ramadan we started to feel that a few hours before breaking the fast you are very much weakened,” said Dr Ali Selim, a senior member of staff at the centre in Clonskeagh.

“People are expected to develop to a higher level of morality,” he added. “People are supposed to be better Muslims and being a better Muslim does not only mean to pray more or to fast more; being a better Muslim means that you should be a better human being.”

Elizabeth Fitzpatrick, who is known by her Muslim name Aisha, said the celebrations were an important family day: “Islam is very family-oriented.”

Ms Fitzpatrick, who comes from a farming background in Co Carlow, converted about 18 years ago, at the age of 21.

She estimates the Muslim population of Ireland has quadrupled over the past two decades. There are now some 65,000 Muslims and 52 mosques here. There is a “huge diversity” of members in the Irish community, said Ms Fitzpatrick, “from all over the world”.

Culturally diverse

Abo Mohamed, from Lucan, has lived in Ireland since 2001. He and his wife have five children, three of whom were born here.

He is reluctant to speak about his reasons for leaving his home in northern Iraq 13 years ago but said he and his family are very happy in Ireland, especially since it has become culturally more diverse.

“We see a lot of nationalities now,” he said, pointing to the gathering around him: “Ireland, Kurdistan, European, Spanish . . . it is very nice.”