“The Irish Buddhist” out next month!

The Irish Buddhist


The Irish Buddhist comes out on March 20th (North America) / April 30th (Europe) with Oxford University Press.

There’s a 30% discount available using the code AAFLYG6 from the OUP site.


“This groundbreaking study rewrites our understanding of the first Westerners to embrace Buddhism as a living faith. The authors offer a vivid portrait of a working class Irishman in colonial Burma for whom Buddhism was not just a personal spiritual quest but a radical social and political practice.”

—Stephen Batchelor, author of Secular Buddhism and After Buddhism


“This is an extraordinary book. The authors have painstakingly tracked down scraps of evidence of U Dhammaloka’s life from across continents, often in the most unlikely of places, and have succeeded in piecing together a wealth of information to reveal an unlikely and likeable hero. The result is not simply a gripping story. It is an education into the lives, ingenuity, and resilience of the usually undocumented, ordinary people living precarious lives on the margins of society across the globe at the height of Empire. It retraces the extensive networks of cooperation they formed in common cause for survival and a dignified life against a backdrop of extraction, exploitation and misrepresentation. This is a history of those who usually have no voice in its writing, a history that dismantles the civilizing myths of colonialism.”

—Kate Crosby, Professor of Buddhist Studies, King’s College, London


“With notable tenacity and thoroughness, the authors trace the wandering career of the first European convert Buddhist monk, U Dhammaloka. Recounting the life of the fascinating twentieth-century working-class Irishman turned Burmese Buddhist monk, the authors bring into sharp relief the ways in which currents of intellectual, religious, and economic change made Buddhism a global tradition in an age of migration, colonization, and empire in Asia.”

—Richard M. Jaffe, Director of the Asian/Pacific Studies Institute and Professor of Buddhist Studies, Duke University


“Among the early European converts to Buddhism, we think of Madame Blavatsky, Alexandra David-Neel, and Ananda Metteyya. But there were many more, perhaps none more intriguing than the Irishman U Dhammaloka. Drawing on some impressive detective work, the authors here paint a fascinating picture—more than a sketch, less than a portrait—of this shape-shifting Buddhist monk. In the process, they provide many insights into fin-de-siècle Buddhism.”

—Donald Lopez, Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies, University of Michigan



Upcoming book launch events

The Irish Buddhist will have a number of launch events in different countries and cities, with one or more of the authors. We’ll keep this page updated with events as they are firmed up.


Princeton, USA:

Fund for Irish Studies, Lewis Arts Center, Fri 17 April 2020

Lecture by Laurence Cox. Further details TBA.


Cork, Ireland:

Book launch at UCC Cork, 4pm Wed 22 April 2020

All interested are cordially invited to hear Prof. Brian Bocking speak on Wednesday 22 April 4pm at the launch of the new book co-authored with Alicia Turner and Laurence Cox: The Irish Buddhist: the forgotten monk who faced down the British empire (Oxford University Press, New York, out March 2020). Venue: the College Seminar Room, O’Rahilly Building, UCC. Enquiries b.bocking@ucc.ie

Dhammaloka on trial

Laurence Cox will be giving an advance glimpse of Dhammaloka’s story in TCD’s Long Room Hub on Friday, October 11th at 4.30:

An Irish Buddhist on trial for sedition

On Friday, January 13th, 1911, the bazaars of colonial Rangoon closed down and “men women and children” pulled a gaily decorated cart containing Buddhist monk U Dhammaloka to the Chief Court for his appeal against his conviction for sedition. Dhammaloka – an Irish-born sailor, hobo and “poor white” – was a thorn in the side of the colonial establishment: a celebrity preacher drawing mass audiences across Burma with his challenges to empire, Christianity and western culture; a skilful organiser in today’s Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand; and active from Japan to Sri Lanka.

Using new material from a forthcoming OUP book with Brian Bocking and Alicia Turner, this paper explores the complex anti-colonial relationships made visible by the trial and the “forgotten futures” foreshadowed by pan-Asian Buddhist organising. The drama of Dhammaloka’s sentence, extradition attempt, faked death and final disappearance underlines the wider significance of religion and power in the high imperial period.

The paper is part of the (free) annual conference of the Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religion, which runs from 2 – 8 pm. Conference enquiries to Dr Alexandra Grieser at griesera@tcd.ie

“The Irish Buddhist” book out in March

It’s finally happening! After ten years of our joint research on U Dhammaloka, “The Irish Buddhist: the forgotten monk who faced down the British Empire” is due out in March 2020 from Oxford University Press.

U Dhammaloka

Photo of U Dhammaloka, 1902 (c) Brian Bocking

We’ll be updating this site with details of launch events which we’re planning for a few countries.

If you’re interested in hosting a talk or other events around the book, drop us a line via this email address and we’ll get back to you. We live in three countries and two continents (N America and Europe) and like talking about this story…


“Encounters between Buddhism and the West”

A new podcast from the Religious Studies Project (supported by the BASR) features Laurence Cox discussing Dhammaloka, the Irish encounter with Buddhism and dissident Orientalism. Just over 36 minutes long.

“The Dharma Bum” film – animated trailer now out

A trailer for the Dhammaloka documentary “The Dharma Bum” is now out at https://vimeo.com/131488311. The film, scheduled for release in 2016, uses some beautiful animation to tell the story of Dhammaloka, and the search for Dhammaloka. More about the project here.

Dhammaloka movie project, media coverage

Ian Lawton’s project for a film about Dhammaloka is getting coverage in all sorts of places, including

Lion’s Roar Buddhist magazine

The Wild Geese Irish diaspora site

Mindrolling podcast

Full Contact Enlightenment blog

Pegbar animation network

Engage! engaged Buddhism blog

Secular Buddhism podcast

rabble.ie Dublin semi-underground paper

Elephant mindfulness journal

Secular Buddhism Aoteoroa NZ site

Irish History Compressed site

Bodhi TV (Dutch Buddhists)

Duncan Trussell comedy podcast

New Age Journal

Ireland Calling diaspora news site

Mizzima – News from Myanmar

German-language Secular Buddhism site

The Tattooed Buddha magazine

Totally Dublin

As well as podcasts on RTE radio, Secular Buddhist Association, Duncan Trussell Family Hour, Mindpod Network…

and the Myanmar Times, Kindred Spirit…

More about the project here.