When Carl Nelkin was a boy, there were signs of his Jewish faith all around him. There were several shops specially catering for Dublin's Jewish community along Clanbrassil Street in the south-inner city, there were multiple Jewish clubs for him to join, and when it came to friendships, there were seemingly innumerable peers from the Irish-Jewish tradition that he could get to know.
He knew he was from a minority religion in an Ireland that was overwhelmingly Catholic, but it seemed as though the community he knew around the Portobello district of Dublin's Southside was a vibrant one.
But that was then, 1970s Dublin. Today, Nelkin - a lawyer who specialises in the aviation industry - is 58 and precious few of his childhood friends still live in Ireland. Most have long emigrated to places like Manchester, where there is a large Jewish community - many of them Irish expats - and to other parts of the UK, as well as Israel and the US. "There are more indigenous Irish Jews in Manchester than there are here," he quips. "When I go over, I see all these old faces and it's like I'm transported back in time."
He talks about an old photograph in his possession that depicts the members of a Jewish youth group he was in in the late 1970s. "There are 100 people in it and of that number, there's just me and two others left in this country. They're all gone. I found it very unsettling. A lot of that happened in the early 1980s and then in the late 1990s. My sister left as well. The indigenous Jewish population has shrank to just four or five hundred people," he adds.
"A lot of those I knew felt they had to emigrate if they wanted to marry somebody from their own faith. The problem here is that everyone knows everyone else."
The idea, he adds, of meeting and falling in love with a fellow Jew who is not already known to you is slim.
Nelkin's wife is American - they met when he worked in the US in the 1980s - and they have two daughters. The eldest, aged 21, lives in London. "She's going out with a guy whose mother grew up in Dublin. They met on JSwipe [a Jewish dating app]. She's settled there. She's not coming back."
His youngest daughter is sitting her Junior Cert this year, but Nelkin fully expects her to emigrate, too, once she finishes school. "The permanent Jewish population simply isn't big enough here anymore. If you want to marry in the faith, the base is simply too small now and you know everybody platonically. You grew up with them."
And he and his wife may emigrate, too. "If Sinn Féin get into government, I will seriously consider leaving Ireland," he says. "My family have been here for five generations, so it's not a decision I would take lightly. But lot of people in Sinn Féin have been quite virulent in their attacks on Israel and Sinn Féin as a party has political ties with the PLO. You have to be suspicious of them."
He says he is gravely offended by tweets from new Sinn Féin TD, Réada Cronin, that many have deemed to be anti-Semitic in nature. They came to light after last month's General Election and he says they caused considerable disquiet among his Jewish acquaintances.
In one tweet, from 2014, Cronin linked Israel to Nazism. She later implied that the Israeli secret service agency, Mossad, had "sinister interference" in the UK general election. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was among those who labelled her views anti-Semitic.
"The response from her party was just to sweep it under the carpet," Nelkin says. "Sinn Féin are virulently anti-Israel and Mary Lou McDonald hasn't done nearly enough to address those issues." He points out that the party found itself in similar controversy when former Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Dublin, Mícheál Mac Donncha, attended a conference in the Palestinian city of Ramallah on National Holocaust Memorial Day and was photographed sitting in front of a photograph of the pro-Nazi mufti of Jerusulem in the 1930s and 40s, Haj Amin al-Husseini.
"But I want to stress," he adds, "that Irish people are, generally, not anti-Semitic and are very tolerant."
It is a sentiment shared by Alan Shatter. The former government minister was the last member of the Jewish faith to be elected to the Dáil. He failed to be elected in the 2016 election, after a controversial Fine Gael letter to members suggested his seat was safe and they should vote for Josepha Madigan instead.
At one stage in the early 1990s, Shatter was one of three Jewish people to be elected to the Dáil. The others were Fianna Fáil's Ben Briscoe and Labour's Mervyn Taylor. By any stretch, it was an extraordinary achievement for a community then officially numbering under 2,000.
But being in the public eye came at a cost according to Shatter. "The Réada Cronin thing revealed the dark underbelly of some aspects of Irish society that exist but we like to think don't exist. Occasionally, people say things that reflect their real views.
"I was of the view that the vast majority of Irish people were not anti-Semitic, but such people do exist. And prior to social media, I'd get nasty letters and phone calls to my home. My wife would have to take those calls and some of the stuff said would have been anti-Semitic. In the area of social media, it's intensified, and people can hide behind anonymity."
While Carl Nelkin adheres to Orthodox Judaism, Alan Shatter is a member of Dublin's Progressive Jewish congregation. It is a younger, more liberal strand that aims to bring the faith into the modern era.
Sense of belonging
"I wish the two strands would work a bit closer together," says one Dublin Jew, who identifies with the progressive side. "Orthodox Jews can be quite conservative and they think the entire Irish Jewish community should be. You sense that some members are only interested in a very old-fashioned idea of Judaism, rather than the younger, contemporary Jews that are a bit more à la carte about it.
"My feeling is that anyone of the Jewish tradition should be respected no matter how tangentially they feel connected to their faith. For some, the religious aspects are not important, but their sense of belonging is."
Maurice Cohen is chair of the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland. He says there is a vibrant community made up of people who have been born and bred here, and a larger group that have made Ireland their home in recent times.
"Many of them work for the big tech companies," he says. "There are quite a few people who grew up in Israel and are living here now and are very involved in the Jewish community. There's no doubt about it, but the likes of Google and Facebook have greatly increased the Jewish population here."
According to the last census, in 2016, some 2,556 people identifying as Jewish are living here. "That was the first census in which the option of choosing 'Jewish' was not offered, so people had to write in the word," Cohen says. "And then there are Jewish people who don't feel religious but feel proud of their tradition and identify as Jew."
He says when those people are taken into account, there is likely to be more than 5,000 Jews in Ireland today. He says there are Jews living in virtually every county.
"It is true that many of the people who come from abroad to work for the tech companies here are transitory, and only stay for a number of years. But others, especially those with young children, settle down and make Ireland their home - and that can only be a good thing for our community."
Jews have lived in Ireland for centuries, but it was in the late 19th century and early 20th century that the numbers shot up. This was a period when Jewish people from Eastern Europe - especially Lithuanians - fled economic turmoil at home for a better life here, and during the 1870s a community was established in the Portobello area of Dublin.
The neighbourhood become colloquially known as 'Little Jerusalem'. There were kosher butchers and bakers and a number of synagogues. A school, Stratford College, was established in nearby Rathgar to cater for the increasing number of Jewish children. Today, this fee-paying school is enjoying its highest enrolment figure in years.
Significant Jewish communities sprung up in other parts of the country, too. There was a vibrant community in Cork city centred around Albert Road which became known as 'Jewtown'. Many became door-to-door peddlers, selling household wares and holy pictures and were known as the 'Vicklemen' in Yiddish, or the 'Weekly Men' as their door-to-door rounds took a week to complete.
By the start of World War II there were an estimated 300 families living in Cork and some of their businesses, including Ernest Rosehill's music shop on Patrick Street, became part of the retail fabric of the city.
Early settlers also made Limerick their home, but they faced naked anti-Semitism in the early years of the 20th century. Thanks to the proselthysing efforts of local priest Fr John Creagh in 1904, Jews were effectively barred from public life and few would do business with them. The Limerick Pogrom may have been been inappropriately named - nobody was killed, after all - but the veritable boycott would have a terminal effect on the city's Jewish population - and would serve as a reminder for Jews in other parts of Ireland that while their presence was tolerated, they weren't always welcome.
Dublin Jewish academic Natalie Wynn has extensively studied the Jewish population in Ireland. She can trace her ancestry to Lithuanian immigrants in the 1880s. "The Limerick situation is comparatively well known," she says, "but there were other examples of prejudiced faced by Jews in this country.
"Maria Duce was an extremist Catholic organisation established by Fr Denis Fahey [of the Holy Ghost Fathers] that had most impact in the 1950s. It published a magazine, Fiat, that was widely circulated. It was strongly anti-Semitic."
As Maurice Cohen puts it, much of the anti-Semitism of that time was centred around membership of clubs. Jews were actively discriminated against by some. "One of the reasons that Edmondstown Golf Club [in Rathfarnham, Dublin] was established by members of the Jewish community is that other golf clubs wouldn't have them as members. The club is still in existence today, but its membership would be primarily from the wider community. There are probably only 30 Jewish members now."
Natalie Wynn remembers a time when there were visible signs of the Jewish community in south Dublin. "By the early 1980s, a lot of the shops were starting to close," she says. "The numbers weren't there to sustain them." Today, devout Jews shop at SuperValu Churchtown as there is a dedicated kosher section there.
Wynn has married outside her faith - "my husband is a lapsed Catholic" - and says many of her Jewish contemporaries did the same. "But they've still retained a sense of their Jewish tradition, because it's important to them. I think about it all the time - mainly because my research work is in the area."
She grew up in Progressive Judaism and says the numbers here have remained comparatively strong. "But it faces many of the same challenges that Orthodox Judaism faces - both have to look at the future and the fact that the two communities have to start working together."
For Carl Nelkin, his hopes for the future are tinged with sadness at what has been lost. A lay cantor at the synagogue, who has recorded both Irish and Jewish songs, he was among those who attended the final service at Cork Synagogue in 2016. "To think that that community had once been so vibrant, and now it's virtually extinct," he says. "Soon there will be no indigenous Irish Jew who speaks with a Cork accent.
"I remember as a boy that on the Day of Atonement [Yom Kippur], we would visit all seven synagogues, walking from one to the next, and they were all packed. On Clanbrassil Street there were many Jewish grocery stores and kosher butchers and you'd have Jewish people milling around all the time. It makes me sad that such outward signs of the Jewish community have vanished."
Today, the street is synonymous with halal stores and kebab shops and with the city's fast-growing Muslim population. The mosque on the adjacent South Circular Road - formerly a Presbyterian church - is one of the busiest buildings of worship in the entire city.
There are virtually no reminders today that Clanbrassil Street was once a thriving Jewish area although the plaque at number 52 indicates that one of literature's most celebrated fictional creations, Leopold Bloom - the Jewish protagonist in James Joyce's masterwork, Ulysses - was born here.
"And that indigenous population will get ever-smaller," Nelkin says. "In the future, I think the Irish Jewish community will simply be the transient community. Right now, without them, we'd be in big trouble."