Portobello boasts a uniquely diverse take on Dublin’s history. As a neighborhood that has always held predominantly immigrant demographics, Portobello has a rich past of cultures meeting. In particular, it is known for a historically thriving Jewish population, which gave Portobello its title of “Little Jerusalem.” Today, the area has also become the center of a growing Muslim demographic, and is home to the Dublin Mosque and Islamic Foundation of Ireland (housed in a former church building). The melding of histories and people shows in Portobello. Among the new wave food carts, farmer’s markets and modernized bars, you’ll still find a kebab shop on nearly every block.
Click here to read about The Bretzel – Portobello’s Jewish bakery
The Jewish community and presence in Ireland dates back as far as the early middle ages. First as merchants, likely from Normandy as historical records maintain, then later as a settled population. The Jews of this period probably resided in or near Dublin. As they were expelled from other European lands across the 14th and 15th centuries, Jewish immigrants made their home in Ireland and established a more permanent community. The Dublin congregation were successful, and seem to have been in existence during the reign of King William III and Queen Anne.
The famed Daniel O’Connell was known to supported efforts for Jews in Ireland alongside the emancipation of the Irish Catholics. There was some Jewish immigration to Ireland during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1871 the Jewish population of Ireland was 258; by 1881 it had risen to 453; most of the immigration at this time came from England or Germany (Irish Jewish Museum).