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Religions in the Republic of Ireland (2022 census)

  Catholic Church (68.8%)
  Protestant (4.2%)
  Orthodox (2.1%)
  Other Christians (0.7%)
  Islam (1.6%)
  Hinduism (0.7%)
  No Religion (14.8%)
  Unspecified (7.1%)
The Christianisation of Ireland is associated with the 5th-century activities of St. Patrick.
Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Nicholas in Galway

The predominant religion in the Republic of Ireland is Christianity, with the largest denomination being the Catholic Church. The Constitution of Ireland says that the state may not endorse any particular religion and guarantees freedom of religion.

In the 2022 census, 69% (3.5 million) of the population identified as Catholic.[1] The next largest group after Catholic was "no religion" at 14%.[1] The non-religious group stood up to 15% as of 2024. The second largest Christian denomination, the Church of Ireland (Anglican), declined in membership for much of the twentieth century, but remained largely static (at 2% of the population) between the 2016 and 2022 census.[2] Other significant Protestant denominations are the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, followed by the Methodist Church in Ireland. The country's Orthodox Christian, Hindu and Muslim populations have experienced significant growth in recent years, due chiefly to immigration, with Orthodox Christianity being the fastest growing religion in Ireland.[3][4]

Politics

St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland (part of the Anglican Communion).

Originally, the 1937 Constitution of Ireland gave the Catholic Church a "special position" as the church of the majority, but also recognised other Christian denominations and Judaism. As with other predominantly Catholic European states, the Irish state underwent a period of legal secularisation in the late twentieth century. In 1972, the article of the Constitution naming specific religious groups, including the Catholic Church, was deleted by the fifth amendment of the constitution in a referendum.

Article 44 remains in the Constitution. It begins:

The State acknowledges that the homage of public worship is due to Almighty God. It shall hold His Name in reverence, and shall respect and honour religion.

The article also establishes freedom of religion (for belief, practice, and organisation without undue interference from the state), prohibits endowment of any particular religion, prohibits the state from religious discrimination, and requires the state to treat religious and non-religious schools in a non-prejudicial manner.

Education

See also: Education in the Republic of Ireland

Despite a large number of schools in Ireland being run by religious organizations but funded by the state, a general trend of secularism is occurring within the Irish population, particularly in the younger generations.[5]

Many efforts have been made by secular groups to eliminate the rigorous study in the second and sixth classes, to prepare for the sacraments of Holy Communion and confirmation in Catholic schools. Parents can ask for their children to be excluded from religious study if they wish. However, religious studies as a subject was introduced into the state administered Junior Certificate in 2001; it is not compulsory and deals with aspects of different religions, not focusing on one particular religion.[6]

In October 2020, general secretary of Education and Training Boards Ireland Paddy Lavelle confirmed that multidenominational state secondary schools, called State's Education and Training Boards (ETBs) - formerly called vocational schools - were going to phase out a set of Catholic influences such as mandatory graduation masses, displaying Catholic symbols only, and visits from diocesan inspectors, as described in the 'framework for the recognition of religious belief/identities of all students in ETB schools'.[7]

Christianity

Saint Patrick, shown here preaching to kings, was a Romano-Briton Christian missionary and is the most generally recognised patron saint of Ireland.

Main article: Christianity in Ireland

Christianity is the largest religion in the Republic of Ireland based on baptisms. Irish Christianity is dominated by the Catholic Church, and Christianity as a whole accounts for 82.3% of the Irish population. Most churches are organised on an all-Ireland basis which includes both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Irish travellers have traditionally adopted a very particular attitude to the Catholic Church, with a focus on figures such as "healing priests". More generally a tradition of visions continues, often outside of Church sanction.[citation needed]

Evangelical movements have recently spread both within the established churches and outside them. Celtic Christianity has become increasingly popular, again both within and outside established churches.[citation needed]

The patron saints of Ireland for Catholics and Anglicans are Saint Patrick, Saint Brigid and Saint Columba. Saint Patrick is the only one of the three who is commonly recognised as the patron saint. Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated in Ireland and abroad on 17 March.

Eastern Orthodoxy in Ireland is represented mainly by recent immigrants from Eastern European countries, such as Romania, Russia, or Ukraine, and accounts for 1% of the population.

In 2022, 40 percent of Catholics stated they attend church.[citation needed]

Church attendance

Church attendance in the Republic of Ireland
Year % of weekly church attendance in Republic of Ireland[8][9][10]
1973 91 91
 
1984 87 87
 
1985 85 85
 
1990 85 85
 
1990 81 81
 
1991 79 79
 
1995 64 64
 
1996 66 66
 
1998 60 60
 
2002 48 48
 
2003 50 50
 
2005 34 34
 
2005 44 44
 
2006 48 48
 
2007 67 67
 
2007-2008 42 42
 
2008 45 45
 
2009 46 46
 
Church attendance among Irish Catholics
Year % of weekly church attendance among Irish Catholics[11][12]
1972-1973 91 91
 
1990 85 85
 
2007-2008 44 44
 
2010 40.2 40.2
 
2011 33 33
 
2018 32 32
 

According to a Georgetown University study, the country also has one of the highest rates of regular Mass attendance in the Europe.[13] While daily Mass attendance was 13% in 2006 there had been a reduction in weekly attendance from 85% to 48% between 1990 and 2006, although the decline was reported as levelling off.[14] In the 1970s a survey had given figures at 91%.[15] In 2011, it was reported that weekly Mass attendance in Dublin was on average 18%, with it being lower among younger generations and in some areas less than 2%.[16][17] A 2012 survey of Irish Catholics undertaken by the Association of Catholic Priests found the weekly mass attendance rate to be 35% on an all-island basis, while daily mass attendance was reported at 3%.[18]

No religion

Main article: Irreligion in the Republic of Ireland

While Ireland was traditionally Catholic throughout much of its modern history,[19] irreligion in Ireland increased seven-fold between the 1991 census and 2016 census,[20] and further increased as of the 2022 census. As of the 2022 census 14% of the population was irreligious.[1]

Among Roman Catholics, a 2010 Bishops Conference survey found that 10.1% of Irish Catholics did not believe in God.[21]

According to a 2012 WIN-Gallup International poll, Ireland had the second highest decline in religiosity from 69% in 2005 to 47% in 2012, while those who considered themselves not a religious person increased 25% in 2005 to 44% in 2012. The poll also showed that 10% of Ireland considered themselves convinced atheists, which was an increase from 2005.[22] These percentages decreased further between 2012 and 2016.[23]

Judaism

Main article: History of the Jews in Ireland

The earliest recorded presence of Jews in Ireland was in 1062 in the Annals of Inisfallen.[24] As of 2016, the total population listing their religion as Jewish is 2,557.[25]

Islam

Main article: Islam in Ireland

Islam is the 6th largest religion in Ireland constituting only 1.62% of the country's population.[26] There are 83,300[27] practising Muslims living in Ireland and approximately 50 mosques and prayer centres within the State. There is more than one mosque or prayer centre in each province.[26] Islam has a 60-year long and complex organisational history in Ireland.

Buddhism

The Buddhist population in Ireland is 9,358 (0.2%). Irish Buddhists such as U Dhammaloka are recorded from the late nineteenth century on, with numbers growing particularly in the 21st century.[citation needed] Beyond formal membership in Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana and Western Buddhist groups, there is increasing syncretism, with self-identified Christians and others using Buddhist meditation techniques, Buddha images, texts by figures such as the 14th Dalai Lama and so on. Reputed links between Buddhism and Celtic religion have long played a role in Irish literature. The first Irish Buddhist Union was formed in 2018, with representatives of five Buddhist schools coming together to form the body.[citation needed]

Sikhism

There are approximately 2000 Irish Sikhs with 1,705 officially recorded in the 2016 census.[28] Most Sikhs in Ireland are based in Dublin, where the Gurdwara, Guru Nanak Darbar is the main place of worship and in recent times has also facilitated a Sikh parade known as the Nagar Kirtan during Vaisakhi celebrations.

Hinduism

Main article: Hinduism in the Republic of Ireland

Hinduism is a minority faith in Ireland, followed by 0.7% of its population. According to the 2022 Census, there are 33,043 Hindus in Ireland.[4][2]

Neo-paganism

Main article: Neo-paganism in the Republic of Ireland

Various Neopagan movements are active in Ireland, especially Wicca, Neo-druidry and Celtic Polytheism. Ireland is also a significant point of reference for various kinds of Celtic and other neo-pagan spirituality and religious practice around the world, such as the Fellowship of Isis.[citation needed]

New Age religious movements

New Age religious movements are becoming increasingly significant in Ireland, often as a form of syncretism for members of established religions. Participation is strongly gendered, with a high proportion of women. A typical example is A course in miracles.[citation needed]

Demographics

Census Information

The percentage of respondents who said they followed a religion other than Catholicism in the census in Ireland in 2011.
The percentage of respondents who said they had no religion in the census in Ireland in 2011.

Between 2006 and 2011, Catholics decreased as a percentage of the population, but still showed an increase in absolute numbers due both to an excess of births over deaths as well as immigration from countries such as Poland. However between 2011 and 2016, absolute numbers of Catholics fell. In the same period, Protestantism, including the Church of Ireland, has also decreased in percentage but has experienced a modest rise in absolute numbers. Those declaring no religion, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Islam showed significant increases.

Religion stated in Irish censuses, 1861–2016; number and percentage of total population return[29]
Answer(s)[nb 1] 1861[nb 2] 1911[nb 2] 1926 1971 2002 2011 2016 2022
Christian 4,390,893 (99.75) 3,125,558 (99.55) 2,959,293 (99.57) 2,917,097 (97.95) 3,659,281 (93.42) 4,107,274 (90.76) 3,992,791 (85.14) 3,885,560

(75.5)

Catholic[nb 3] 3,933,575 (89.36) 2,812,509 (89.58) 2,751,269 (92.57) 2,795,666 (93.87) 3,462,606 (88.39) 3,831,187 (84.66) 3,729,115 (78.30) 3,540,412(68.8)
Church of Ireland[nb 3] and other Anglican[nb 4] 372,723 (8.47) 249,535 (7.95) 164,215 (5.53) 97,739 (3.28) 115,611 (2.95) 124,445 (2.75) 126,414 (2.61) 126,658 (2.5)
Orthodox[nb 5] 10,437 (0.27) 44,003 (0.97) 62,187 (1.32) 105,827 (2.1)
Christian (not further specified) 21,403 (0.55) 39,652 (0.88) 37,427 (0.77) 38 408 (0.7)
Presbyterian[nb 3] 66,172 (1.50) 45,486 (1.45) 32,429 (1.09) 16,052 (0.54) 20,582 (0.53) 22,835 (0.50) 24,211 (0.47) 23,597 (0.5)
Apostolic or Pentecostal 3,152 (0.08) 13,876 (0.31) 13,350 (0.28) 13,632 (0.3)
Evangelical 3,780 (0.10) 3,972 (0.09) 9,724 (0.20) 8,859 (0.2)
Jehovah's Witness 4,430 (0.11) 6,024 (0.13) 6,264 (0.13) 6,445 (0.1)
Methodist,[nb 6] Wesleyan 17,480 (0.40) 16,440 (0.52) 10,663 (0.36) 5,646 (0.19) 10,033 (0.26) 6,280 (0.14) 6,471 (0.12) 5,355 (0.1)
Lutheran 756 (0.03) 3,068 (0.08) 5,048 (0.11) 5,329 (0.10) 3,706 (0.1)
Protestant (not further specified)[nb 4] 4,263 (0.09) 5,409 (0.09) 5,237 (0.1)
Baptist 943 (0.02) 1,588 (0.05) 717 (0.02) 591 (0.02) 2,265 (0.06) 3,219 (0.07) 3,957 (0.08) 4,262 (0.1)
Born again Christian 2,565 (0.05) 3,162 (0.1)
Mormon 833 (0.02) 1,202 (0.03) 1,209 (0.03)
Seventh-day Adventist 1,178 (0.03)
Society of Friends 3,812 (0.08) 2,445 (0.07) 647 (0.02) 859 (0.02) 899 (0.02) 848 (0.02)
Unitarian 473 (0.01)
Church of Christ 378 (0.01)
Jacobite 296 (0.01)
Brethren 222 (0.01) 309 (0.01) 272 (0.01)
Kimbanguist 69 
Congregationalist 60  68 
Salvation Army 52 
Unificationist 60  34 
Other religions 341 (0.01) 3,805 (0.12) 3,686 (0.12) 2,633 (0.09) 29,526 (0.75) 71,003 (1.57) 95,746 (2.04) 133,603 (2.7)
Islam[nb 3] 19,147 (0.49) 48,130 (1.06) 62,032 (1.32) 83,272 (1.6)
Hindu 3,099 (0.08) 10,302 (0.23) 13,729 (0.29) 33,827 (0.7)
Buddhist 3,894 (0.10) 8,355 (0.18) 9,358 (0.20) 9,285 (0.2)
Spiritualist 2,922 (0.06) 3.350 (0.1)
Pagan, Pantheist 1,106 (0.03) 1,883 (0.04) 2,645 (0.06) 3.868 (0.1)
Jewish 341 (0.01) 3,805 (0.12) 3,686 (0.12) 2,633 (0.09) 1,790 (0.05) 1,675 (0.04) 2,557 (0.05) 2,193 (0.04)
Sikh 1,705 (0.04) 2,183 (0.04)
Baháʼí 490 (0.01) 507 (0.01) 447 (0.01) 518 (0.01)
Jain 134  349 (0.01)
Taoist 171  200 
Rastafari 114 
Deist 97 
Hare Krishna 91  87 
Scientologist 87 
Satanism 78 
Shinto 55 
Zoroastrian 35 
Eckist 30 
Theist 30 
Irreligion 7,616 (0.26) 140,382 (3.58) 265,246 (5.86) 474,734 (10.12) 758,734 (14.8)
No religion[nb 3] 7,616 (0.26) 138,264 (3.53) 256,830 (5.68) 451,941 (9.64) 755,455 (14.7)
Lapsed (Roman) Catholic 590 (0.02) 1,268 (0.03) 8,094 (0.17) 3,279 (0.1)
Atheist 500 (0.01) 3,751 (0.08) 7,477 (0.16)
Agnostic 1,028 (0.03) 3,393 (0.07) 5,006 (0.11)
Jedi Knight 2,050 (0.04)
Pastafarian 92 
Lapsed Church of Ireland 4  74 
Unspecified 10,877 (0.25) 10,325 (0.33) 9,013 (0.30) 50,902 (1.71) 88,014 (2.25) 81,758 (1.81) 126,650 (2.70) 367,328 (7.1)
Not stated 46,648 (1.57) 79,094 (2.02) 68,668 (1.52) 119,349 (2.54) 345,165 (6.7)
Other / Other stated[nb 7] 10,877 (0.25) 10,325 (0.33) 9,013 (0.30) 4,254 (0.14) 8,920 (0.23) 13,090 (0.29) 7,301 (0.16) 22 163 (0.4)
Total population 4,402,111  3,139,688  2,971,992  2,978,248  3,917,203  4,525,281  4,689,921  5,145,225
Noteso
  1. ^ Through to 1971, the religion question was answered in freeform text.[30] From 2002, common answers have been available as checkboxes.[31][23] These are noted in the table.
  2. ^ a b Pre-partition totals for the 26 counties that became the Irish Free State in 1922.
  3. ^ a b c d e This answer was available as a checkbox on the 2002, 2011, and 2016 censuses.[31][23]
  4. ^ a b Through to 2002, answer "Protestant" was included under "Church of Ireland" (called "Protestant Episcopalian" before 1961)
  5. ^ This answer was available as a checkbox on the 2011 and 2016 censuses.[23]
  6. ^ This answer was available as a checkbox on the 2002 census.[31]
  7. ^ The "other" (before 1971) or "other stated" category is not directly comparable between censuses, because later ones enumerate some answers separately which were included within "other" in earlier ones.

Going by the recent 2016 figures,

According to a 2010 Eurobarometer Poll,[33]

According to a 2012 Eurobarometer Poll when people were shown a card listing options for religious identification:[34]

Freedom of religion

In 2023, the country was scored 4 out of 4 for religious freedom.[35]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c "Census 2022: Number who identify as Catholic falls by 10 percentage points to 69%". thejournal.ie. 30 May 2023. Retrieved 30 May 2023.
  2. ^ a b "Census figures show average age rising to 38.8". rte.ie. 30 May 2023. Retrieved 30 May 2023.
  3. ^ Final Principal Demographic Results 2006 (PDF). Central Statistics Office. 2007. pp. 31 (Table Q). ISBN 978-0-7557-7169-1. Retrieved 20 June 2010.
  4. ^ a b Ghoshal, Arkadev (7 April 2017). "Hinduism one of the fastest growing religions in Ireland, outpacing Islam". International Business Times, India Edition.
  5. ^ Among many examples:
    John Daniszewski, 17 April 2005, Catholicism Losing Ground in Ireland, LA Times
    Irish poll shows parents no longer want to force religion on to children from secularism.org.uk
    Phil Lawler, 17 September 2007, Ireland threatened by secularism, Pope tells new envoy, Catholic World News
  6. ^ Ireland Curriculum Online website, Junior Certificate Religious Education 2016, page 4
  7. ^ Carl O'Brien (12 October 2020). "Catholic symbols in State schools to be phased out". The Irish Times. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  8. ^ "Home". www.spiritans.com.
  9. ^ Jobs, Catholic (20 November 2009). "Know Your Faith: Mass Appeal - Church Attendance in Ireland".
  10. ^ "Religious trends in the West". www.religioustolerance.org.
  11. ^ "New poll shows big rise in church-attendance" (PDF). Iona Institute. 2 November 2009.
  12. ^ "Attitudes towards Church Poll" (PDF). Iona Institute.
  13. ^ Weekly Mass Attendance of Catholics in Nations with Large Catholic Populations, 1980-2000 Archived 14 February 2008 at the Wayback MachineWorld Values Survey (WVS)
  14. ^ Irish Mass attendance below 50% – Catholic World News 1 June 2006
  15. ^ "Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review". Studiesirishreview.ie.
  16. ^ "Archdiocese of Dublin".
  17. ^ Smyth, Jamie. "Fewer than one in five attend Sunday Mass in Dublin". The Irish Times.
  18. ^ Contemporary Catholic Perspectives (PDF). Association of Catholic Priests. 2012. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  19. ^ "Cultural factors help cause surprise". Irish Times. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  20. ^ "Census of Population 2016 – Profile 8 Irish Travellers, Ethnicity and Religion; Religion - No Religion, Atheism and Agnosticism". www.cso.ie. Central Statistics Office. Retrieved 20 January 2023.
  21. ^ "Religious Practice and Values in Ireland" (PDF). catholicbishops.ie.
  22. ^ Atheists Rally On National Mall Archived 12 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine retrieved 2012-10-05
  23. ^ a b c d "2011 Census Sample Form" (PDF). Central Statistics Office. p. 4, q.12. Retrieved 15 October 2017.; "Census 2016 Sample Form" (PDF). Central Statistics Office. p. 4, q.12. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  24. ^ Unknown. Annals of Inisfallen.
  25. ^ McGarry, Patsy (13 October 2017). "Ireland's Jewish population rises by almost 30%". The Irish Times. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  26. ^ a b "Islam is Ireland's third largest religion". www.irishexaminer.com. 7 June 2017.
  27. ^ "Change in Religion" (PDF).
  28. ^ "Health Service Executive" (PDF). HSE.
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Census 1991 Volume 1 Appendix 1" (PDF). Central Statistics Office. p. 174 q.8. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  31. ^ a b c "2002 Census Sample Form" (PDF). Central Statistics Office. p. 4, q.12. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  32. ^ "Census 2016: Population growth slowest in 20 years". 6 April 2017 – via www.rte.ie. 10% of the population declared that they had no religion
  33. ^ "Special Eurobarometer, biotechnology, page 204" (PDF). January–February 2010.
  34. ^ "DISCRIMINATION IN THE EU IN 2012" (PDF). June 2012.
  35. ^ Freedom House website, Ireland page, retrieved 2023-08-08