The Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester
Established to develop the cultural and social ties between the Muslim and Jewish communities of Greater Manchester
1 August 2022
Except when prevented by pandemic travel restrictions, some members of the Forum like to travel each year to an overseas place of both Jewish and Muslim interest, at their own expense.
From Friday 29 July to Monday 1 August inclusive, five of them completed their tenth trip, which was a long-planned visit to Dublin. The travellers were:
The group were staying on O’Connell Street, so quite naturally the first place they visited on their day of arrival, was the historic General Post Office on O’Connell Street, which was the centre of the Irish uprising of 1916 that eventually led to Ireland’s freedom from British rule. The outside of the building still has some bullet scars from that time, preserved to remember the occasion.
The group also visited the harrowing statues of the Memorial to the Irish Famine on Custom House Quay, in the Dublin City Docklands.
Saturday taught the group the long history of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, when they visited Glendalough (meaning 'valley of two lakes') which is a glacial valley in County Wicklow, Ireland, renowned for an Early Medieval monastic settlement founded in the sixth century by St Kevin.
The highlight of the trip was Sunday, when the group visited the Irish Jewish Museum. They had the benefit of a fascinating talk about the history of the Irish Jewish community given by Hilary Abrahamson. This was particularly moving for Heather Fletcher, as she is descended from an Eastern European refugee Philip Fletcher. His original surname was Gudelisky but when he settled in Cheetham Hill in Manchester he changed it to Fletcher based on the name of a shop.
Philip Fletcher and his wife Yetta had 10 children, nine born in Manchester and one in Dublin. Philip was a tailor but upon obtaining a job as a master tailor in Dublin he emigrated there in 1908 with his family. One of the 10 children was Heather Fletcher’s grandfather Samuel who was also a tailor in Dublin, and he married a woman from Broughton in Salford. Samuel was elected President of the Irish garment workers industrial union in 1931 which was the same year that he and Eva had a son, Neville who was Heather Fletcher’s father. After training as a doctor in Dublin, Neville moved to Salford and settled there for the rest of his life.
The Irish Jewish community is now relatively small, about 2,500, due to the impact of emigration and intermarriage.
The photograph below was taken at the Jewish Museum. From left to right:
Behind the group is a replica of a small traditional Jewish kitchen, illustrating the cramped living conditions of the Jewish community in the past.
While Jews have been in Ireland since the time of Oliver Cromwell, if not earlier, the Muslim presence in Ireland is much newer.
On Monday, the group visited the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland, which is in the Clonskeagh area of Dublin, close to the campus of University College Dublin. This was opened in 1996 jointly by the then President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, and the then ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
The Centre does a significant amount of outreach work, and amongst other things is currently the site of an Irish government coronavirus testing centre. Like Manchester’s, Dublin’s Muslim community is very diverse, and the group were shown around the Centre by Zahri, who is from the Muslim community in Bulgaria.
Ireland now has over 60,000 Muslims, mostly in Dublin, showing how the population of Ireland has diversified in recent decades.
Mohammed Amin said:
“Dublin now has the same diversity as other large European capitals like London and Paris. The visit reminded me how much the Irish suffered under British rule, and the extent of anti-Catholic discrimination until relatively late into the nineteenth century.”
Heather Fletcher said:
“When I last visited Dublin, I saw the flat on Capel Street where the Fletcher family lived for most of their time in the city. I also saw my grandfather's small tailor's shop and flat where my dad was raised on Parnell Street. However, this time it was even more thrilling to go back further in time and see the home where my great grandparents Philip and Yetta lived on St Vincent’s Street when they first arrived in Dublin in 1908. It was also remarkable to find out that Philip was a member of Walworth Road Synagogue where the Irish Jewish Museum is now situated.”
The photograph below was taken on the steps of the Islamic Cultural Centre. Zahri from Bulgaria is the man on the left wearing a blue tee shirt and beard. The five travellers from Manchester are as named in the Jewish Museum photograph.
The Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester
Established to develop the cultural and social ties between the Muslim and Jewish Communities of Greater Manchester