Irish Muslims gather in Croke Park to celebrate Eid Al Adha

Faithful gather in sunshine on pitch of GAA stadium to mark Muslim holiday

More than 300 people celebrated the Muslim holiday of Eid Al Adha in Dublin's Croke Park on Tuesday, the second year in a row the event was staged there.

Muslims gathered to pray in the sunshine on the pitch of the Gaelic Athletic Association stadium, with social-distancing measures in place.

Last year 200 Muslims celebrated the Eid holiday in the stadium, with Covid-19 restrictions preventing a large service in a mosque.

Sheikh Dr Umar Al Qadri, chairman of the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council and organiser of the event, said the community was “eternally grateful” to be allowed to use the stadium again for the outdoor prayer service.

Holding the gathering in the historic GAA grounds was a “unique and special” moment, he said.

“The Irish people must give themselves full credit for choosing to keep their hearts open when so many around the world fall prey to suspicion, hatred and scapegoating,” he said.

Bilal Awan, who works in cyber security, said he had come to Croke Park for the festival “to pray in this historic and iconic place”.

Holding the prayer service in the stadium was a sign of “acceptance” of people who had come to Ireland from different parts of the world, and “a welcoming” from the GAA, Mr Awan said.

With the Covid-19 restrictions, mosques had been closed for long times, meaning people had to pray at home, he said.

So the large event in Croke Park was a welcome opportunity for the community to come together.

“The festive prayers of Eid, they are to be done in congregations, together, in the mosque, common places, common grounds, where everybody can come in,” Mr Awan said.

“It’s not to be held at home. It’s not an individual event, it’s an accumulative event for everyone.”

Sakinah Abdul Ibiyeye, who works for a FinTech company, said the event symbolised the integration of “new Irish” immigrants.

“Especially with the lockdowns, this is an opportunity to see people you haven’t seen in a very long time and be able to greet everyone again,” Ms Abdul Ibiyeye said.

“This is like Muslim Christmas for us, to have families around and eat, so it’s great to have it here. It’s great to see a lot of people here.”

GAA President Larry McCarthy told those gathered it was a “great pleasure” to welcome the Muslim community to Croke Park.

The event was attended by leaders from other religions, including the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Farrell, Rev Michael Jackson of the Church of Ireland, and Rabbi Zalman Lent of the Jewish community.

Jack Chambers, the Minister of State with responsibility for sport, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald and other politicians also attended.

Irish President Michael D Higgins said he wanted to thank the Muslim community on the “joyful” occasion “for all they contribute to the society we share".

Updated: July 21st 2021, 1:03 PM