Islam in Ireland

The documented history of Islam in Ireland dates to the 1950s. The number of Muslims in Ireland has increased since the 1990s,[1] mostly through immigration. The 2011 Irish census found 49,204 Muslims in the Republic of Ireland, constituting 1.07% of that state's population and at the time of the 2001 UK Census there were 1,943 living in Northern Ireland.[2]


The earliest mention of Ireland in Muslim sources originates in the works of Al-Idrisi in his famous Tabula Rogeriana mentioned Irlandah-al-Kabirah (Great Ireland).[3]

Drogheda crest, containing the star and crescent of King John who granted the towns charter in 1210.

On 20 June 1631 a North African pirate ship captained by Jan Janszoon (Murad Reis) sailed into Roaring Water Bay in West Cork and raided coastal village of Baltimore. A crew of slave traders roused the villagers from their beds, slaughtered anyone who resisted, and herded 107 people into the hold of their waiting ship. Men, women and children were taken, even down to babies in the cradle. The villagers were sold into a life of slavery in the Ottoman Empire.[4]

In 1845 Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid declared his intention to send £1,000 along with three ships full of food to the Irish people. According to Abdullah Aymaz in an article in The Fountain magazine, the British administration tried to block the ships, but the food arrived secretly at Drogheda harbor and was left there by Ottoman sailors.[5][6] Shipping records relating to the port appear not to have survived. Newspaper reports suggest that ships from Thessaloniki in the Ottoman Empire sailed up the River Boyne in May 1847,[7] although it has also been claimed that the river was dry at the time. A letter in the Ottoman archives of Turkey, written by prominent Irishmen, explicitly thanks the Sultan for his help.[8]

The organisational history of Islam in Ireland is complex, not least because of the immense variety of ethnic backgrounds of Irish Muslims.[9] The first Islamic Society in Ireland was established in 1959. It was formed by students studying in Ireland and was called the Dublin Islamic Society (later called the Islamic Foundation of Ireland).[10] At that time there was no mosque in Dublin. The students used their homes and later rented halls for Jum'ah (Friday) and Eid (Muslim holiday) prayers. In 1976 the first mosque and Islamic Centre in Ireland was opened in a four-storey building at 7 Harrington Street, Dublin 8. Among those who contributed to the cost of the Mosque and Islamic Centre was the late King Faisal of Saudi Arabia. In 1981 the Ministry of Endowment and Islamic Affairs of Kuwait sponsored a full-time Imam for the Mosque.

In 1983, the present building of the Dublin Mosque and Islamic Centre was bought, renovated and the headquarters of the Society moved from Harrington Street to 163 South Circular Road, Dublin 8.

In Cork, prayer halls are located in housing estates. Cork's Muslim community operates out of an industrial estate, while hoping to raise money to build a new mosque.[11]

In 1992, Moosajee Bhamjee became the first (and to date only) Muslim Teachta Dála (Member of Irish Parliament).[12]

Demography and ethnic background

Historical population
1991 3,873    
2002 19,147+394.4%
2011 49,204+157.0%
2015 63,553+29.2%

According to the 2011 Irish census, there are 49,204 Muslims living in the Republic of Ireland,[13] representing a 51% increase over the figures for the 2006 census. According to the 2006 Irish census, there were 32,539 Muslims living in the Republic of Ireland,[14] representing a 69% increase over the figures for the 2002 census (19,147). In 1991, the number of Muslims was below 4,000 (3,873).[15] Islam is a minority religion in Ireland, behind Roman Catholicism and members of the Church of Ireland (incl. Protestants. The 2006 census recorded the number of Roman Catholics at 3,644,965, with 118,948 Protestants.[16] In terms of numbers, Islam in Ireland is relatively insignificant, and although Muslims can claim to be the third largest faith group in Ireland[1] they also lagged significantly behind those with no religion, at 175,252, and those who did not state a religion, at 66,750.

According to the 2001 census, there are 1,943 Muslims (1,164 males 779 females) in Northern Ireland.[17]

The Muslim community in Ireland is diverse and growing rapidly, and its numbers are not determined by the country's history to the same extent as the UK and France, where the majority of Muslims are immigrants or descendants of immigrants from former colonies, or Germany and Austria, where the majority of Muslims are Turkish migrant workers and their descendants. Just over 55 per cent of Muslims were either Asian or African nationals with 30.7 per cent having Irish nationality.[16] The census also revealed that of the 31,779 Muslims resident in Ireland at the time of the census, 9,761 were Irish nationals, less than the number of Asians (10,649) although more than the 6,909 African nationals. The census of 2011 found there were 49,204 Muslims in Ireland, "a sharp rise on five years previously".[18] The Muslim immigration at the end of the 90s was caused by the Irish economic boom and asylum seekers from diverse Muslim countries, and in the 20-year period between 1991 and 2011 the Muslim population increased 1000%, from 0.1% to 1.1% of the population of the republic.[18]

Mosques and denominations

In 2003, the Islamic Cultural Centre and Foras na Gaeilge joined forces to plan translate the Koran into Irish for the first time.[19]

In September 2006 an umbrella organisation, the Irish Council of Imams, was established. It represents 14 imams in Ireland, of both the Sunni and Shia traditions. It is chaired by Imam Hussein Halawa (Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland) and its deputy chairman is Imam Yahya Al-Hussein (Islamic Foundation of Ireland). Imam Dr. Umar Al-Qadri (Al-Mustafa Islamic Cultural Centre Dublin 15), Imam Salem (Cork Mosque), Imam Khaled (Galway Mosque) and Imam Ismael Khotwal (Blackpits Mosque) are among its founding members.




Main article: Ahmadiyya in Ireland

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was formally registered in the country in 1992, during the era of the Fourth Caliph. However, there have been Ahmadi Muslims in the country since the 1960s. There are two Ahmadiyya mosques in the Republic of Ireland, one in Galway in the western coast, named the Galway Mosque, and one in Lucan near the eastern coast in County Dublin. The Galway Mosque is purpose built.[26][27] Most Ahmadiyya Moslems in Ireland are refugees from countries where they are persecuted.

Muslim students in universities

There are several student Islamic societies (ISOC) in universities all across Ireland especially in the major universities such as UCD, TCD, UCC, NUIG, ISSNI Queen's Belfast, RCSI, DCU, Dublin Institute of Technology, IT Tralee, IT Tallaght, IT Blanchardstown, DBS.[28]

Yearly events include regular (weekly halaqas & linguistic classes), social (Food festivals), cultural (Eid), Charity drives (Charity week), physical (sports), Academic (speakers tours, lectures, courses, conferences & seminars), Intellectual (debates) and campaigns (Islam awareness & justice)

The Federation of Students Islamic societies (FOSIS) Ireland , is an umbrella organisation established in the early millennium (2003) whose mission is to unite, serve and represent Muslim students.[28] It also seeks to bring these students together, to share experiences and to offer help and advice where appropriate, uniting Muslim Students to positively contribute to Irish communities.[28]

See also


  1. 1 2 Islam Ireland's 3rd largest faith, BBC 29 November 2007
  2. Northern Ireland Census 2001 Key Statistics
  3. Dunn, 2009, p. 452.
  4. O'Donnell, Leeanne; O'Brien, Liam (23 October 2010). "From Baltimore to Barbary - The Village That Disappeared". RTÉ Radio 1. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  5. Akay 2012.
  6. Aymaz 2007.
  7. Kelly, Antoinette. "New evidence shows Turkey delivered food to Ireland during the famine". IrishCentral. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
  8. "Abdülmecid'in İrlanda halkına yaptığı yardım 'efsane' değilmiş". Zaman. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
  9. Scharbrodt, Oliver, "Islam in Ireland". 318 – 336 in Olivia Cosgrove et al. (eds), Ireland's new religious movements. Cambridge Scholars, 2011; ISBN 978-1-4438-2588-7
  10. "The Islamic Foundation of Ireland". DCU Islamic Society. Archived from the original on 15 July 2006. Retrieved 13 August 2008.
  11. About the Cork Mosque
  12. "The Muslim-Irish prove to be a surprisingly moderate bunch". Irish Independent. 19 December 2006. Retrieved 13 August 2008.
  13. Divorce rates soar in Ireland as population continues to expand
  14. Central Statistics Office of Ireland
  15. ICCRI inside spectrum issue 9: July 2005
  16. 1 2
  17. Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
  18. 1 2 Census 2011 Results: Profile 7 Religion, Ethnicity and Irish Travellers – Ethnic and Cultural Background in Ireland.
  19. "Quran to be translated into Irish". BBC News. 11 March 2003. Retrieved 13 August 2008.
  22. 24 Greenwell Street, Newtownards, County Down
  24. Lacey, Jonathan, "Turkish Islam in Ireland". 337 – 356 in Olivia Cosgrove et al. (eds), Ireland's new religious movements. Cambridge Scholars, 2011; ISBN 978-1-4438-2588-7
  26. Lorna Siggins (20 September 2014). "Persecuted Muslims build first Irish mosque in Galway". Irish Times. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
  28. 1 2 3
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