The Irish Jewish Museum is located in the once highly Jewish populated area of Portobello, around the South Circular Road, Dublin 8.
The former Walworth Road Synagogue, which could accommodate approximately 150 men and women, consisted of two adjoining terraced houses. Due to the movement of the Jewish people from the area to the suburbs of Dublin and with the overall decline in their numbers, the Synagogue fell into disuse and ceased to function in the early 70’s. The premises remained locked for almost fifteen years, and was brought back to life again with the establishment of the Irish Jewish Museum Committee in late 1984.
The Museum was opened by the Irish born former President of Israel Dr. Chaim Herzog on the 20th June 1985 during his State visit to Ireland. It is managed by a Committee of dedicated people, varying in numbers from 20 to 30, who voluntarily give of their time.0
The Museum preserves an important, though small, part of Ireland’s cultural and historic heritage.
The Museum has plans for expansion and development; while these plans have secured the approval of Dublin City Council they are the subject of an upcoming oral hearing by An Bord Pleanala. The Jewish Community would ask that all visitors to the museum appreciate that the building is located within a residential area and would ask that all visitors respect the concerns of the neighbours living in the immediate vicinity of the Museum. Many of the neighbours have participated in Museum events over the years and their concerns are to the possible disruption to their environment. The IJM is fully cognisant of these concerns and is taking them into account.
CONTENTS & DISPLAYS
The Museum contains a substantial collection of memorabilia relating to the Irish Jewish communities and their various associations and contributions to present day Ireland.
The material relates to the last 150 years and is associated with the communities of Belfast, Cork, Derry, Drogheda, Dublin, Limerick & Waterford.
The Museum is divided into several distinct areas. In the entrance area and corridors there is a display of photographs, paintings, certificates and testimonials. The ground floor contains a general display relating to the commercial and social life of the Jewish community. A special feature adjoining the area is the kitchen depicting a typical Sabbath/Festival meal setting in a Jewish home in the late 19th/early 20th century in the neighbourhood.
Upstairs, the original Synagogue, with all its ritual fittings, is on view and also the Harold Smerling gallery containing Jewish religious objects.
While there is an abundance of written material on James Joyce and his writings, and many people visit Dublin to follow in the footsteps of Leopold Bloom of Ulysses, nevertheless a visit to the Museum enables the Joycean follower to obtain an insight into the cultural, economic, religious & social life of the Jew in Ireland during the early 1900’s.