Saturday, 12 October 2019

The Synagogues of Dublin:
14, Grosvenor Place

The small synagogue in rented rooms at 6 Grosvenor Place, from 1936 to 1940, may have been one of the shortest-living synagogues in Jewish history in Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

The synagogue on Rathfarnham Road, Terenure, dates back to 1936, when a meeting was called on 26 September 1936 to discuss providing a new synagogue for members of the Jewish community in Dublin who had moved out to suburbs such as Rathgar, Rathmines, and Terenure.

The larger synagogues at Adelaide Road and Greenville Hall on South Circular Road, and the smaller synagogues in the ‘Little Jerusalem’ area between South Circular Road and Portobello, were no longer within the 1 km walking distance of those suburbs on the Sabbath.

At first, from 1936, the Rathmines Hebrew Congregation rented rooms at 35 shillings a week from Boruch Citron at 6 Grosvenor Place, Rathmines, a large Victorian suburban house in a residential area close to Rathmines and Rathgar and just off Kenilworth Square.

The pacifist and writer Francis Sheehy Skeffinton (1878-1916), who was illegally murdered at the outbreak the 1916 Rising, his wife the suffragette, Hannah Sheehy-Skeffington (1877-1946), and their son, Owen Sheehy-Skeffington (1909-1970), later a senator, once lived nearby at No 11 Grosvenor Place.

Ray Rivlin in Jewish Ireland retells with humour the story that when the Revd Solly Bernstein was the cantor or reader at Grosvenor Place Synagogue and a shochet or rtual slaughterer, he asked for a pay rise in 1936. ‘Why?’ he was asked. When he explained he had just married, the response was, ‘So, who told you to get married!’

However, the rented rooms were too small for the new congregation. In April 1940, they bought another house nearby, at 52 Grosvenor Road, with a loan from the Provincial Bank. The small synagogue at 6 Grosvenor Place may have been one of the shortest-living synagogues in Jewish history in Dublin.

But the congregation in Rathmines did not stay there for long. At Rosh Hashanah in 1948, they moved to a Nissen hut at ‘Leoville,’ opposite the Classic Cinema on Rathfarnham Road in Terenure.

The house had been donated to the congregation by Woulfe Freedman and the violinist Erwin Goldwater. The construction of a new synagogue began in August 1952 and it would be dedicated on 30 August 1953.

Today, No 6 Grosvenor Place is a private dwelling.



Monday: 15,, Grosvenor Road Synagogue

Saturday: 13, Walworth Road Synagogue

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