Ireland’s Jewish population rises by almost 30%

Number of Jews in State reaches 2,557 with over half of them living in Dublin

The State’s Jewish population has risen by 28.9 per cent, or 573, since 2011, according to the 2016 census.

The population of Jews in Ireland had been dropping steadily since the 1940s. They now number 2,557, of whom most 1,439 (56 per cent) live in Dublin.

It is a reverse from the story in February 2016, just two months before census night, when the 135-year-old Cork synagogue was closed because of falling attendances. It had hosted services there since 1905.

The first wave of Jewish emigration to Co Cork was in 1772 with the influx of a small community of Sephardic Jews from Portugal.


Most of Co Cork's Jews arrived there from Lithuania in the late 19th century, escaping persecution, as did the Jews who arrived in Limerick and Dublin then.

It is believed that on arrival in Co Cork some among them thought they were in New York.

By the late 1930s their population had reached a peak of about 450 to 500.

Currently there are three synagogues in Dublin and one in Belfast.

From a high of 3, 907 in 1946 Ireland’s Jewish population declined to a low of 1,581.

The 28.9 per cent increase between 2011 and 2016 is by far its largest in over a century.

In general Irish-born Jews are an ageing population, but a new influx of Jews with the arrival of hi-tech US multinationals has contributed greatly to its population growth.

Most of these, however, follow the trend of young people in the other larger faith groupings and are believed to be primarily secular and non-practising.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times