Nure Tjin slices scallions, tomatoes, and squeezes some lemon juice onto the plate, before dropping the pulverised citrus fruit into a nearby bin.

Tucked away on North Lotts, the cobbled lane that sits between the Quays and Middle Abbey Street, the Turkish Social Club around him is starting to fill up. As Tjin tells it, “this is the place” for Turkish Dubliners.

Turkey’s football team face off against Croatia in less than an hour, and a group of men, slouched on couches, have already taken up position for the match.


Tjin lays leaves next to the chopped vegetables, and takes a tube of mayonnaise from the fridge for accompaniment. At several nearby tables, others continue the noisy click-clack of Okey, a popular Turkish game.

“It’s a board game,” Tjin says. “There’s about 10 different rules to it. What do you want to know?”

I ask him to explains the rules, or rather the variations of the game, to which he shrugs indifferently and moves on with preparations.

Tjin took over the management of the social club from a friend in 2008, after he moved to the city that year.

A worn sign outside on North Lotts still directs visitors to Abbey Brides, the previous occupants. Two flights of stairs leads up to the large room which Tjin opens each day at 11 am. At the entrance, a pool table stands with wooden chairs against each wall.

In the centre, half-a-dozen tables covered in green tablecloths with a foosball table and an assortment of board games. The walls are covered in Turkish images: the capital Istanbul, the Hagia Sophia Mosque and more than one of Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey.

Bedecked in football scarves, the room is given over to the colours of Galatasaray and Kayserispor. “Only Galatasaray!” one man tells me.

Next to the screening area and the couches, a small bar is where you’ll most often find Tjin. “We cook here everyday,” he says. “Salads, meatballs, kebab, different all the time.”

The shelves stock almost exclusively Turkish products, with teas, biscuits and dried fruits all bought locally at a Turkish shop on Talbot Street.

Men — it’s only men tonight — nip in and out for smokes as more and more order tea from the bar. Another lad helps Tjin behind the counter, pouring Turkish tea into flute-shaped glasses, placing spoons and sugar cubes onto saucers.

Throughout the day, Tjin tells me, there could anywhere between 20 and 100 people at the club.

For football matches it’s busier and the coming Sunday, he expects, will be one of the busiest. Tjin leads me out back to a small smoking area with tables and chairs. In the corner, a barbecue sits idle and rusted.

Yet, with the Muslim celebration day of Eid-Al-Adha approaching, he plans to fire up the metal relic.

By his reckoning, some 2,500 Turkish people live in and around Ireland and word has spread about the club.

“People tell everybody,” he says. “It’s some new, some old,” he adds, as he heads back indoors.


According to the 2011 census, there were 1,029 Turkish nationals living in Ireland in 2011. The Turkish Embassy puts the figure these days at around 3,000.

First Secretary at the embassy, Cemal Sangu, estimates that Dublin’s Turkish population comes in at over at 1,000. “As far as I know at the beginning of the 1970s a couple of [Turkish] families they arrived here,” he says. “Some married to Irish and some Irish married to Turkish.”

Sangu says that, unfortunately, there aren’t more community clubs like the Turkish Social Club around.

Back in the club, manager Tjin chats with others gathered for the football match. The last time Turkey played Croatia was back in June, one man tells me. The Croatian striker Luka Modrić scored early on.

Turkey lost that match, Tjin says, but tonight he’s confident they’ll win.

When the social club first started up in 2008, he says, some Gardaí and Dublin Bus drivers used to nip in for a tea or coffee every now and then. Now, not so much.

Tjin leads me over to the wall opposite the bar, next to the couches and points proudly to his display of old images of Dublin city: the Central Bank, O’ Connell (or Sackville) Street and other monuments. “I got them from a friend who works in the National Library,” he says. “You couldn’t buy them now.”

From the far window at the entrance, an Irish flag hangs down while a Turkey V. Ireland football scarf hangs near the television.

I ask how the club operates, about membership scheme and fees. Tjin simply reaches under the counter top back at the bar and slams a hefty ledger down. “My membership book,” he says, and gets back to chopping.

At the tables, fewer men now play Okey. One of the guys picks up the remote and switches from the Turkish news channel they’d been watching. The young lad rushes by with more glasses of amber tea.

Few gathered are keen to discuss the recent events in Turkey, the attempted military coup against the government of President Recep Erdoğan nor the prevalence of Ataturk imagery around the club.

“It’s Ataturk,” one man says.

Back behind the bar, Tjin finishes off prepping his plates of food and distributes some among the tables. He tells me a friend of his may even bring along an even larger barbecue he made for Sunday’s Eid-Al-Adha feast, large enough to flame a whole lamb.

As I descend the stairs, two latecomers rush up. The sun beams down on North Lotts, and the Irish flag flutters in the wind.

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Author:

Cónal Thomas: Cónal Thomas is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer.

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