Buddhism and Ireland

Go to:

Departure of Odoric and his companions

“Having crossed over the great sea from Pera, close by Constantinople, I came to Trebizond, in the country called Pontus by the ancients…” Departure of Odoric of Pordenone, James of Ireland and others en route to Cathay (14th century image from Wikimedia Commons)

Dhammaloka’s story highlights the problems with the assumption that Buddhism is something new for Irish people, or new in Ireland. New research shows that Irish people have been aware of Buddhism since at least the 7th century AD and the first Irish person visited Buddhist Asia in the 14th century (a story circulated in the Irish world continuously up to the 17th century). There were migrant and convert Buddhists in Ireland from the late 19th century on – although it took a full century for an Irish person to come “out of the closet” and publicly identify as Buddhist.

This section of the website links to research on Buddhism and Ireland, in particular the 2013 book Buddhism and Ireland. The “Encountering Buddhist Asia” exhibition now showing at NUI Maynooth draws from the book. More specific material can be found under the pages on U Dhammaloka, Charles Pfoundes, and Vivian Butler Burke.


%d bloggers like this: