The subject of my lecture to you tbis evening is a Jewish cemetery, now disused, situated in a district of Dublin city which is, and has been for well-nigh half a century, outside the bounds of the present Jewish Ghetto in that city. This cemetery is of great historic importance not only in the annals of the Irish metropolis, where it is regarded as a relic of the eighteenth century, but also for the members of this Jewish Historical Society, one of the main objects of which is to preserve for posterity the records of Anglo-Jewish institutions and communities.
Before, however, I proceed to the theme of my lecture, a few preliminary remarks are necessary as to the cemetery's place-name as well as to the local historic interest of the district in which it is situated. The spelling of the place-name, Ballybough, is, like that of many other place-names in Ireland, rather misleading. The place has always been pronounced as " Ballyboc." This pronunciation is due to the fact that
its Irish equivalent is "Baile bocht," which in their literal translation mean "the town of the poor."
Ballybough is truly a poor district. Situated on the north-eastern aspect of the city of Dublin, its separate entity as a district has now disappeared by its having become merged into the adjoining district of Fairview. In the early Middle Ages Ballybough was an isolated village, situated on the old Irish coast line and washed by the sea waves when they rolled in, pure and undefiled, upon the open Fair view Strand. Within a mile or two of it is Clontarf, a place which has given its name to a celebrated battle fought in the year a.d. 1014. At this battle o Clontarf, Brian Boru, the Irish King and chieftain, defeated the Danes who had invaded Ireland. The fact that, after this battle, a son of Brian Boru was found drowned near Ballybough Bridge, with his hands still clutching the corpse of a Danish foeman, leads me to believe that the field, which was afterwards converted into the Jewish cemetery which forms the subject of my lecture, was actually one of the central points of this great battle.1
How came it that this district of Ballybough, which down to a hundred years ago was a noted burial-place for suicides,2 was chosen by the Jews of Dublin as a place of burial for their dead ? A possible answer to that question is the close proximity of. the place to the sea. For the Jewish cemetery at Ballybough lies within an actual stone's throw of Dublin Bay. And the fact that it was then a seaside district made it a convenient landing-place for foreign invaders. Up till about a century ago, Ballybough was always regarded as a foreign quarter : and that was particularly the case in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Quakers, when they came to Ireland in 1654, made their first home in that district