Ireland and India have a special bond as two countries who were colonized by the same power, but who had cultures very different to their oppressors. The first arrivals to Ireland were at the culmination of migration pattern that had begun back in India, and some scholars hold that the Irish language has more in common with Sanskrit than it does with English. Others note that there are similarities between ancient Irish Brehon Laws and Indian Vedic laws.
During English rule, many Irish would have gone over to India as soldiers in the British Army, others as missionaries. However, it would be a lady called Margaret Noble who would exert the biggest Irish Influence on the shape of India. Born in Tyrone in 1867, she met the great Indian spiritual figure Swami Vivekananda in 1898 in London and was captivated by his message of tolerance between all faiths and peoples. She visited India with him, and after his death, used her considerable skills in education all for the benefit of Indian women. Today, she is still remembered by modern India for her constant sacrifice to uplift the standard of education of Indian women, and for the inspiration and encouragement she gave to India’s fledgling independence movement. Ireland’s Easter Rising in 1916 and her subsequent independence in 1922 gave enormous encouragement to those aspiring for Indian independence – after all if a small country like Ireland could gain independence, then why not a large and faraway country like India? Similarly, the framers of India’s Constitution drew inspiration from the constitution of Ireland written only ten years before.
In recent times, there has been an increased flow of people and culture between the two countries. Mother Teresa, who received the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the poor in Calcutta, underwent her spiritual training in Ireland. In recent years, a sizeable Indian community has grown in Ireland. In addition, many Indian spiritual traditions have opened up a temple or meditation centre in Ireland, making the immense spiritual wealth of India available to the people of Ireland.