Monday, July 28, 2008
From the outside, it's an ordinary-looking building on a busy street, barely attracting a second glance from the shoppers.
But behind its upper-floor windows, the unassuming terrace is home to Dublin's first city centre mosque. For the last week, the Islamic community has been celebrating the opening of their Talbot Street mosque, after a long planning battle.
The building actually represents a number of firsts -- it is also the first mosque on the northside and the first Sufi mosque in the State.
Called the Anwar-E-Madina, the mosque will cater for some 200 worshippers and joins the city's other Islamic centres at South Circular Road and Clonskeagh.
For several years, prayers had been held at a room in Moore Lane. The Talbot Street building was secured and planning permission granted by Dublin City Council last December, but this was appealed by local traders to An Bord Pleanala [The Planning Board].
During the hold-up, prayers were held at a cash-and-carry in the vegetable market at Little Green Street. The final go ahead for Talbot Street to open its doors was given last week.
For those who worked to make the project a reality, there are no hard feelings about the delays.
"Thank God it's all come to an end," Anwar-E-Madina's representative Manan Hameed said of the planning stages.
"The community really appreciates that something like this has been done in Dublin's inner city. It is a great honour to be the first Sufi mosque in Ireland.
"The welcome we have had in the Talbot Street area is fantastic as Ireland is a different ballgame to the way it was in the 80s and 90s. It's great to see such beautiful integration in a Dublin street."
Asked about the planning difficulties, Mr Hameed added: "We have absolutely no bad feelings towards anybody."
The upper three floors of two buildings at numbers 8 and 9 Talbot Street, above Langan Furniture and Rayhoon restaurant, were converted. They had been vacant since 2006 and were previously given over to non-retail commercial uses.
An Bord Pleanala found there was "no evidence" to suggest that the proposed development would detract from the existing premises in the area.
[Picture: Manan Hameed with Allama Hafiz Sadique in the new Anwar-E-Madina mosque. Photo: EH].