“Encountering Buddhist Asia” exhibition at Maynooth

Monday April 29th saw the launch of the exhibition “Encountering Buddhist Asia: sources of Irish knowledge from the 6th to the 21st centuries” at the Russell Library, Maynooth. The Russell is a great venue and very appropriate for such a wide-ranging collection. The Library staff had done amazing work on the exhibition – finding images for the free-standing posters, identifying extra items for the display cases, and presenting the items – and it was a real education to see all these connections between Ireland and Buddhist Asia together in one space.

We have a Sunday Independent report on U Dhammaloka from 1911, a CV from Charles Pfoundes who led the first Buddhist mission to the west in 1889 – 92, a hedge school textbook with Aesop’s Fables from 1815, a text on missionary work by a clandestine missionary to Ireland in 1660, collections of early modern travel narratives from the 18th century, items by early Irish Buddhist sympathisers and converts as well as a range of Catholic responses from the scholarly to the polemic – it is a very diverse collection showing the range of encounters between Ireland and the Buddhist world.

Many thanks to all the Library staff who supported and worked on the exhibition, and to Rachel Pisani and Mihirini Sirisena who described their recent research in US and South Asian archives in pursuit of Dhammaloka. The exhibition runs till July 12th. The library is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; all are welcome and admission is free but you need to email library.russell@nuim.ie or phone 01-708 3890 in advance to arrange your visit.

For details of related public events in Cork (May 8th) and Dublin (May 10 – 12) please see here; for digitised texts related to the encounter between Ireland and the Buddhist world please see here.

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