Responding to a Multicultural City

The Lantern Intercultural Centre in Dublin providing a beacon of light for all.

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  Sr. Joan Murray, OLA at the Lantern Intercultural Centre in Dublin 

In 2007 Ireland's cultural make-up was changing rapidly. During that year alone immigration peaked as 150,000 people arrived on these shores. Over 500,000 people came to Ireland from the year 2000 right up until the economic downturn in late 2008. Many of those who came now call Ireland their home. The great movement of people to these shores saw the emergence of a multi-cultural society across Ireland. The Christian Brothers set-up the Lantern Intercultural Centre in the Autumn of 2007. Under the lead of Br. Michael Murray, the centre was intended as a place of hospitality to promote intercultural and interfaith dialogue as a multicultural society emerged.


Sr. Joan Murray, OLA (no relation) got involved in the day to day running of the Synge Street centre eight years ago. Sr. Joan has a great passion for interfaith dialogue and set-up an international women’s support group soon after her arrival. This group is still going strong today. “We meet every Tuesday morning. Many of the women who attend may have just arrived in the country and some have little or no English. With that, the make-up of the group is dynamic”. The group has two main functions. “Practical support is provided. Learning English is one of the biggest needs among those who arrive on our shores. Sometimes we might have guest speakers. Recently a lawyer spoke on the rights of migrants in Ireland. Other times we do some yoga or drama. The second function is to socialize. We take an hour just to get to know one another and share our culture and values with one another.”


The social and cultural fabric of Dublin is reflected in the many groups that use the Lantern Centre on a regular basis. The weekly timetable Sr. Joan had in her hand was testament to this. “We have a huge variety of groups, nationalities and events here every week.  The Ethiopian Church will celebrate Easter this coming weekend and they will have a big event. The French speaking African Church use the centre too. Culture groups from Estonia, Slovakia and Latvia use the centre every week. Ali provides weekly Arabic lessons. Many groups also use the space for yoga, mindfulness and spiritual purposes”.


While interfaith dialogue does not produce overnight results. Sr. Joan is very positive about what is developing at the Lantern Centre: “The International Women’s Support Group is a microcosm of what we want to achieve in the long-term. In the aftermath of Boko Haram kidnapping the 276 girls in Nigeria we held a multi faith event here with many different groups including Muslims, Christians and Buddhists coming together in prayerful solidarity. It was very special and shows what is possible”.


For more on the Lantern Centre, visit

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Sr. Joan with members of the International Women's Support Group at the Lantern Intercultural Centre