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 http://www.thedharmabum.eu/blog/new-animated-trailer . The film, scheduled for release in 2016, uses some beautiful animation to tell the story of Dhammaloka, and the search for Dhammaloka. You can support 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…

You can help make the project a reality by contributing here or telling people about it. Thanks!

The first Buddhist mission to the west … led by an Irishman

The new issue of the British Association for the Study of Religion’s journal DISKUS, just published, includes an article by Brian Bocking, Laurence Cox and Yoshinaga Shin’ichi showing that the first Buddhist mission to the west was not Ananda Metteyya’s 1908 mission to London (as traditionally thought) or the Japanese missions to California from 1899 on (highlighted in more recent scholarship) but the 1889 – 1892 mission of the Buddhist Propagation Society in London, led by Irish-born Capt. Charles Pfoundes.

The research includes Pfoundes’ biography, the Japanese background to the mission, the London world of public debate within which it took place, Pfoundes’ approach to Buddhism and the difficulties of being the first missionary, the conflict with Annie Besant and Theosophy’s claim to represent “esoteric Buddhism”, and possible traces left by the mission.

The article is open-access and can be read online at http://www.religiousstudiesproject.com/DISKUS/index.php/DISKUS/article/view/51/44 with a link for PDF download. It includes original copies of the flyers for the Society and for some of Pfoundes’ public talks as well as excerpts from newspaper accounts, reports by Pfoundes to his Japanese sponsors and accounts by Japanese visitors – bringing to life a lost world and the extraordinary moment when Buddhist missionaries first grappled with the question of how to speak to western audiences.

This site now includes a new page dedicated to material dealing with Pfoundes.


Image: Researchers at Pfoundes’ grave in Kobe:
Prof. Akai Toshio, Prof. Brian Bocking, Dr Laurence Cox, Prof. Alicia Turner, Prof. Yoshinaga Shin’ichi