Ballybough Cemetery

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Ballybough Cemetery
Ballybough Cemetery is located in Central Dublin
Ballybough Cemetery
Location in central Dublin
Established 1718
Closed 1958
Location 65 Fairview Strand, Ballybough, Dublin 3
Country Ireland
Coordinates 53°21′45″N 6°14′29″W / 53.36250°N 6.24139°W / 53.36250; -6.24139Coordinates: 53°21′45″N 6°14′29″W / 53.36250°N 6.24139°W / 53.36250; -6.24139
Type Jewish
Size 935 m2 (0.23 acre)

Ballybough Cemetery (Irish: Reilig an Bhaile Bhoicht) is a Jewish cemetery in Ballybough, Dublin.[1][2] Founded in 1718,[3] it is Ireland's oldest Jewish cemetery.[4][5]


The cemetery is bounded on one side by a former Royal Irish Constabulary barracks (1830-1910). On the other side is the site of Elrington House, the 1748 home of John Dioderici (also referred to as Deoderice or Dioderice),[6][7] maternal grandfather of the Provost of Trinity College, Dublin, Bishop Thomas Elrington.[3][7]


In the 1700s, a small number of Jews had settled in the Annadale area off Ellis Avenue (what is now Philipsburg Avenue), Fairview; most of these marrano Jews came from Spain and Portugal (with some coming from the Netherlands), escaping the Inquisition.[8][9][10]

On 28 October 1718, Alexander Felix (David Penso), Jacob Do Porto, and David Machado Do Sequeira, on behalf of the Ashkenazim, leased from Captain Chichester Phillips of Drumcondra Castle (an MP in the Irish Parliament)[11] a plot of land on which the graveyard was subsequently built.[12]

The Jewish community sought assistance from German and Polish Jews in London to build a wall around the cemetery. They were refused but were later supported by the Bevis Marks Synagogue who not only funded the wall but provided a supervisory agent from London. The title deeds for the cemetery were deposited at Bevis Marks Synagogue, where they remained as of 1906.[13][14]

A mortuary chapel was added in 1857 (inscribed on the front is "Built in the Year 5618", following the Hebrew Calendar).[8][15] The cemetery itself contains more than 200 graves,[16] the last burial there having taken place in 1958.[17] Most of Dublin's Jewish community would be buried in Dolphins Barn cemetery now.

A 1913 account in Life in Old Dublin by James Collins recounts that many headstones were removed from the cemetery by locals:[4][18]

There were formerly a great number of tombs visible in this graveyard, but some have disappeared in a somewhat extraordinary manner. It is told in Whitlaw's and Walsh's History of Dublin, "That they have been stolen at different times for the purpose of converting them into hearth-stones or other uses," and in support of this theory the following evidence is given : A Jew a short time ago (this is in 1818), paid a visit to a Christian friend in the neighbourhood of Ballybough, whom he found in the act of repairing his house. Examining his improvements he perceived near the fireplace a stone with a Hebrew inscription which intimated to the astonished Israelite that the body of his father was buried in the chimney."

A comprehensive history of the cemetery titled "The Jewish Cemetery at Ballybough in Dublin City" was delivered by Bernard Shillman on 6 July 1925 at the Jewish Historical Society of England.[19]


From the late 1800s, the cemetery went into decline. The last burial in the 19th century was a Samuel Wachman in 1899. In the 20th century the only burials which took place were members of the Harris family: Juliette Harris (wife of Lewis Wormser Harris) in 1908; Ernest Wormser Harris (son of Juliette and Lewis Wormser Harris) in 1946; and lastly Maude Jeanette Harris, 1958. In 1898, a new cemetery was established on Aughavannagh Road in Dolphin's Barn by Robert Bradlaw and the Dolphin's Barn Jewish Burial Society. Bradlaw was one of the founders of the St. Kevin's Parade Synagogue. The new cemetery was dedicated to Sir Moses Montefiore.[20][21]

In creative works[edit]

Inspired by the old cemetery, Dublin poet Gerry McDonnell wrote a series of imaginary monologues called Mud Island Elegy in a poetry collection looking at Jewish life in 19th century Ireland.[22]

It is sometimes incorrectly described as the graveyard that author Bram Stoker, who lived nearby, used to visit when he was young, and which influenced his novel Dracula.[15] In fact, Stoker visited another nearby cemetery which was also sometimes called Ballybough Cemetery, known as the "suicide plot", which was used for suicide victims, robbers and highwaymen, through whose corpses' hearts wooden stakes were driven. This cemetery was likely located across the Luke Kelly Bridge on Clonliffe Road.[8][23][24]


  1. ^ Oliver McQuillan. Sabbath Worship (1) – The Jewish Feast of Passover. The Furrow, Vol. 60, No. 4 (April 2009), pp. 213-222
  2. ^ W. J. P. An Historic Dublin Stream. The Irish Monthly, Vol. 41, No. 481 (Jul., 1913), pp. 389-392
  3. ^ a b Michael C. O'Laughlin. The Families of County Dublin, Ireland: Over Four Thousand Entries from the ... p. 34. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  4. ^ a b "Full text of "Life in old Dublin, historical associations of Cook street, three centuries of Dublin printing, reminiscences of a great tribune"". 1906-08-06. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  5. ^ "Reports". IrishJewishRoots. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  6. ^ "Leabharlann Náisiúnta na hÉireann : National Library of Ireland" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  7. ^ a b "5618 and all that" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  8. ^ a b c 5619 The Jewish Cemetery on Fairview Strand, by Diarmuid G. Hiney, Dublin Historical Record, Vol. 50, No. 2, Autumn, 1997.
  9. ^ Eoin O'Brien. ""From the Waters of Sion to Liffeyside" : The Jewish Contribution: Medical and Cultural" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  10. ^ Kenneth Ferguson. Rocque's Map and the History of Nonconformity in Dublin: A Search for Meeting Houses. Dublin Historical Record, Vol. 58, No. 2 (Autumn, 2005), pp. 129-165
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ Ball: The Parish of Clonturk - Drumcondra, with Notice of Marino and its Vicinity
  13. ^ "DUBLIN". Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  14. ^ LEON HÜHNER. THE JEWS OF IRELAND: AN HISTORICAL SKETCH. Transactions (Jewish Historical Society of England), Vol. 5 (1902-1905), pp. 226-242
  15. ^ a b "11 graveyards to visit in Ireland before you die · The Daily Edge". 2015-05-17. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  16. ^ The Jewish cemetery at Ballybough in Dublin by Bernard Shillman, Paper read before the Jewish Historical Society of England, July 6, 1925
  17. ^ [2]
  18. ^ James Collins. "Life in Old Dublin" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  19. ^ J. M. Rich. Transactions (Jewish Historical Society of England), Vol. 11 (1924-1927), pp. vii-xiv
  20. ^ Erwin R. Steinberg. James Joyce and the Critics Notwithstanding, Leopold Bloom Is Not Jewish. Journal of Modern Literature, Vol. 9, No. 1 (1981 - 1982), pp. 27-49
  21. ^ "DUBLIN: (3 cemeteries): | ireland - International Jewish Cemetery Project". 2016-09-19. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  22. ^ Fred Johnston. Review: Preserver of the Tribe. Books Ireland, No. 244 (Nov., 2001), pp. 290-292
  23. ^ Robert H. Bell. "Preparatory to Anything Else": Introduction to Joyce's "Hades". Journal of Modern Literature, (Indiana University Press) Vol. 24, No. 3/4 (Summer, 2001), pp. 363-499
  24. ^ M. J. Tutty. Drumcondra. Dublin Historical Record, Vol. 15, No. 3 (Sep., 1959), pp. 86-96