The Imam of Kilkenny has described a decision by An Bord Pleanála to reject plans for a mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre in Kilkenny city as "crushingly disappointing".
Kilkenny County Council granted permission last year, but after objections and an appeal to the board, the mosque, two houses, a community building, cafe and halal shop will not be built.
The Islamic community wanted to build on a site at the Hebron Industrial Estate.
An Bord Pleanála said it does not believe the plans will contribute positively to the architectural and cultural heritage of the city.
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Imam Ibrahim Ndure said the decision is painful.
"It is a very sad day, it's crushingly disappointing. We will try to look at the objection articulated in the inspector's report to see what we can take as the next step.
"We are trying to accept that this has been rejected. It's taken up a huge amount of our time and resources for nearly four years. It's very painful."
Imam Ndure said they have been renting the building they currently use for over a decade, and all they want is a place to call their own.
"Frankly, we have been paying rent for a long time, and it's high time we have our own Islamic Cultural Centre. We were banking on An Bord Pleanála to come to a favourable decision so we can start the process of moving from a rented place."
He said that when they first lodged the application, it generated an outcry. He said people claimed property prices in the area would drop, and they mistakenly believed the centre would have the "call to prayer".
He said they invited locals to a meeting to explain to them what the centre would be about but they got a lot of negative feedback.
"It was brutal. It was harsh and terrifying. We just wanted to allay the fears of people, and tell them that what they'd been hearing was false."
There were a number of objections, including from a nearby housing estate who cited concerns about an increase in traffic.
One objector was quoted as saying the decision to reject the plan was "better than an All Ireland victory", which Imam Ndure said is very insensitive.
"We are only asking to have a place of worship, where we can have community activities and enjoy ourselves. Any time we have a celebration, we have to do it outside on the grass, even if it's raining or freezing. Most of our children are born here, they go to school here, we are all well integrated."