A num­ber of sports clubs had a ‘No Jews Al­lowed’ pol­icy. It was com­mon in the 1930s and 1940s


The colum­nist Kevin My­ers sparked out­rage this week with his off­hand re­mark that Jews were “not gen­er­ally noted for their in­sis­tence on sell­ing their tal­ent for the low­est pos­si­ble price”. My­ers was sacked for his ref­er­ence to two highly-paid Jewish BBC broad­cast­ers in The Sun­day Times in an ar­ti­cle about salaries at the Bri­tish broad­caster.

After apol­o­gis­ing pro­fusely, he later claimed he was a “great ad­mirer of Jews” and their cul­ture of “ex­plor­ing their tal­ent and mak­ing the most of it”.

The for­mer colum­nist in­sisted that he was not anti-Semitic, but the sug­ges­tion that Jews were mo­ti­vated by money would have been fa­mil­iar to any­one who has fol­lowed the long and shame­ful his­tory of anti-Semitism in Ire­land.

Pub­lic fig­ures have ex­pressed much more vir­u­lent anti-Jewish sen­ti­ments in the past; un­like My­ers, in most cases they got away with it, be­cause at times in our his­tory such sen­ti­ments were pop­u­lar.

The hate­ful stereo­type of the grasp­ing Jew was a theme in po­lit­i­cal dis­course, go­ing right back to Arthur Grif­fith and the birth of Sinn Féin.

At its worst, the stir­ring of ha­tred against Jews by some politi­cians and church­men helped to cre­ate a cli­mate where Jewish refugees from Europe were un­able to es­cape to Ire­land from the Holo­caust. It could be a life-and-death is­sue.

“Anti-Semitism was real in Ire­land,” says Pro­fes­sor Bryan Fan­ning, an au­thor­ity on im­mi­gra­tion at the School of So­cial Pol­icy in UCD. “It meant that the Ir­ish State did not al­low Jewish peo­ple to sur­vive the Holo­caust by al­low­ing them into the coun­try.”

He said ear­lier in the 20th cen­tury, anti-Semitism led to at­tacks and the boy­cott of Jews in Lim­er­ick.

At a more rou­tine level, Jews could be the tar­get of slurs, and re­fused en­try to golf and ten­nis clubs be­cause of their re­li­gion.

The Jewish politi­cian Alan Shat­ter was a reg­u­lar tar­get of abuse as a min­is­ter and TD, even up to his pe­riod in the last gov­ern­ment.

When he made a speech in 2015 on how Ire­land had shut its doors to Ger­man Jews try­ing to es­cape the death camps, he was show­ered with in­sults.

His speech prompted mes­sages to ra­dio shows that he “should go back to where he came from” — and by that, they meant Is­rael.

In re­sponse, Shat­ter laughed it off, ask­ing: “Do they mean Rath­gar or Rath­farn­ham, where I was born and raised? I don’t know if they’d have me back.”

Back in the 1980s, the TD was the tar­get of sim­i­lar abuse by a Fianna Fáil back­bencher in the Dáil. Dur­ing the time of the last gov­ern­ment, a lo­cal au­thor­ity worker was con­victed after he sent Shat­ter a string of abu­sive anti-Jewish emails, call­ing him a “per­fid­i­ous Jew” and “Yid­dish whore”.

One email said: “Re­sign you Jewish, Rath­gar, cir­cum­cised prick.”

It is hard to fathom that Shat­ter was at one time in the same party as Oliver J Flana­gan, per­pe­tra­tor of per­haps the most out­ra­geous anti-Jewish out­burst in the Dáil’s his­tory.

In May 1943, as war raged across Europe and Nazi atroc­i­ties were com­ing to pub­lic at­ten­tion, he stood as a can­di­date in Laois-Of­faly, promis­ing to rid Ire­land of the Jewish stran­gle­hold.

After a re­sound­ing elec­tion vic­tory, he called for emer­gency or­ders “against the Jews who cru­ci­fied Our Saviour 1,900 years ago and who are cru­ci­fy­ing us ev­ery day of this week”.

Adding fuel to the fire, Flana­gan said: “There is one thing that Ger­many did, and that was to rout the Jews out of their coun­try. Un­til we rout the Jews out of this coun­try, it does not mat­ter a hair’s breadth what or­ders you make.

“Where the bees are there is the honey, and where the Jews are there is money.”

These in­flam­ma­tory sen­ti­ments must have been rea­son­ably pop­u­lar in the Ire­land of the time, as he dou­bled his vote in the elec­tion of the fol­low­ing year.

Flana­gan, who later apol­o­gised for the anti-Jewish out­burst, went on to have a long ca­reer in Fine Gael, and served as Min­is­ter for De­fence. And his ca­reer was capped when he was con­ferred a Pa­pal Knight.

In con­trast to Oliver J, his son Min­is­ter Char­lie Flana­gan en­joys warm re­la­tions with the Jewish com­mu­nity in Ire­land, and has spo­ken at Holo­caust me­mo­rial events.

He has said the no­to­ri­ous speech from 1943 was of its time and his fa­ther, like many oth­ers, had not been aware of the hor­rors be­ing per­pe­trated on Jews in World War II.

But it is hard to be­lieve that a pub­lic fig­ure like Flana­gan was un­aware of the ex­ter­mi­na­tion of Jews, which was al­ready well un­der way.

Anti-Jewish sen­ti­ments were also ex­pressed by po­lit­i­cal fig­ures many decades be­fore that, and one no­table politi­cian who was branded an anti-Semite be­came a founder of the State.

Ac­cord­ing to the his­to­rian Pro­fes­sor Der­mot Keogh, Arthur Grif­fith wrote in The United Ir­ish­man of 1899 that the three evils of the cen­tury were “the Pi­rate, the Freema­son and the Jew”.

Grif­fith’s pa­per talked about Jews in hate­ful terms. The United Ir­ish­man de­scribed thou­sands of Jews in Lon­don “mostly of phe­nom­e­nal ug­li­ness and dirt, (who) had come out of their East End dens at the sum­mons of their rab­bis”. He said it was “ev­i­dent that they de­tested soap and wa­ter”.

The low point for the com­mu­nity in Ire­land came in 1904 with the Lim­er­ick Pogrom against Jews, en­cour­aged by the Redemp­torist Catholic Priest Fr John Creagh.

He told his con­gre­ga­tion: “The Jews were once cho­sen by God…. But they re­jected Christ, they cru­ci­fied him. They called down the curse of his pre­cious blood on their heads.”

Fr Creagh warned that peo­ple in the city were be­com­ing the “slaves of Jew usurers”.

“Nowa­days, they dare not kid­nap and slay Chris­tian chil­dren, but they will not hes­i­tate to ex­pose them to a longer and even more cruel mar­tyr­dom by tak­ing the clothes off their back…”

This prompted at­tacks on Jews in the city, with stones and mud thrown at them, and win­dows bro­ken. Up to 200 took part in the vi­o­lence early in Jan­uary 1904 — and there were 40 fur­ther at­tacks in April be­fore the trou­ble died down.

While Arthur Grif­fith sup­ported the boy­cott, the Land League cam­paigner Michael Davitt con­demned the “bar­barous ma­lig­nancy of anti-Semitism”.

Some of the ac­cu­sa­tions lev­elled at Jews were ab­surdly far-fetched. They were ac­cused, with­out any ev­i­dence, of try­ing to grab Ir­ish farms.

They were even falsely ac­cused by an of­fi­cial at Dublin Cas­tle of “col­lect­ing from ho­tels... used tea leaves, dry­ing them, mix­ing with them with dele­te­ri­ous drugs, and sell­ing the com­pound to the poorer classes”.

This prod­uct was said to be “in­ju­ri­ous to health, even pro­duc­ing ner­vous dis­ease and in­san­ity”.

Jews were blamed for cor­rupt­ing so­ci­ety, in­clud­ing women’s fash­ion. At one stage, the Bishop of Lim­er­ick De­nis Hal­li­nan blamed Jews for in­tro­duc­ing into Chris­tian so­ci­ety “dan­ger­ous and in­de­cent dresses”.

While the Lim­er­ick boy­cott was thank­fully an iso­lated event and was not re­peated on any­thing like the same scale, Jews in Ire­land could still face dis­crim­i­na­tion.

The ob­ste­tri­cian Bethel Solomons, who played rugby for Ire­land, did not come across anti-Semitism in his youth, ac­cord­ing to Der­mot Keogh’s his­tory, Jews in Twen­ti­eth-Cen­tury Ire­land.

But later on, he no­ticed an “un­pleas­ant and in­sid­i­ous move­ment”.

“So­cial and sport­ing clubs are con­tam­i­nated and in many there is an un­writ­ten law that Jews will not be ad­mit­ted… If a Jew is seek­ing a po­si­tion in a busi­ness or a hospi­tal, he may not get it, be­cause he is a Jew.”

Lynn Jack­son, di­rec­tor of Holo­caust Ed­u­ca­tion Trust, said Jews were de­nied en­try to many sports clubs in Dublin, in­clud­ing golf and ten­nis clubs.

“A num­ber of clubs had a ‘No Jews Al­lowed’ pol­icy. It was com­mon in the 1930s and 1940s.

“Ed­mond­stown Golf Club was set up on the South­side of Dublin be­cause Jews were not al­lowed into other clubs.”

The fail­ure of the gov­ern­ment to re­spond to the an­ni­hi­la­tion of Jews across Europe is one of the most dis­grace­ful episodes in the State’s his­tory.

Taoiseach Éa­mon De Valera was well aware of the Holo­caust. In De­cem­ber, he re­ceived an ur­gent tele­gram from the for­mer Chief Rabbi of Ire­land, Dr Isaac Her­zog:


Ac­cord­ing to Pro­fes­sor Fan­ning, var­i­ous Depart­ment of Jus­tice mem­o­randa from be­fore, dur­ing and after the Holo­caust made it clear that the door was to be shut to Jewish vic­tims.

By Septem­ber 1945, pic­tures of the con­cen­tra­tion camps had been shown all around world, but the re­sponse of the Depart­ment of Jus­tice was ob­du­rate: “It is the pol­icy of the Depart­ment of Jus­tice to re­strict the im­mi­gra­tion of Jews. The wealth and in­flu­ence of the Jewish com­mu­nity in this coun­try, and the mur­murs against Jewish wealth and in­flu­ence are fre­quently heard. As

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