The earliest reference of Jewish life in Ireland is in the Annals of Inisfallen in the year 1077 which records the visit of five Jews to the High King at Limerick.
Following the expulsion of Jews from Spain an Portugal in 1492, they arrived in Ireland and settled in many of the towns along the south coast. There are references to Sephardic Jews in records dating back to the 1500s. The Jewish connection with Ireland was reinforced by new immigrants and traders following the expulsion of Portuguese -speaking Jews from Brazil in 1656.
While most of these refugees went to the Caribbean, New Amsterdam (New York) and Amsterdam, some did set up business links in Ireland.
Cork had a Jewish cemetery by the early 1700s in Kemp Street near Douglas Street, thus signifying an organized community. The Belfast community was formed in 1864 and the foundation stone of its first synagogue was laid in 1871. There were also small communities in Derry, Lurgan, Limerick and Waterford.
An organized community with a prayer room in Crane Lane, off Dame Street, existed in Dublin from the 1600s and the cemetery at Ballybough, Clontarf, came into use in the early 1700s.
Following the end of the Napoleonic Wars, there was a new wave of immigrants from Europe, but the present community stems from refugees arriving from Lithuania and Russia between 1880 and 1910 following the pogroms of the early 1880’s in Eastern Europe. The Jewish population was never great and it reached its peak after World War II when there were approximately 5,600 Jewish persons residing in Ireland. There are about 2,000 Jewish people in the whole of Ireland at present living mainly in Dublin, Belfast and Cork.
The Irish Jewish Museum in Dublin was opened in June 1985 by the Irish born former President of Israel, Dr. Chaim Herzog during his State Visit to Ireland. Synagogues