Census 2011 – Religion in Ireland

Results on Religion from the 2011 Census

Just  a reminder – the overall population of the Republic of Ireland is around 4.5 million.

84% of the population self-identify as Roman Catholic (3,861,300)

Church of Ireland (Anglican) at 6.4% of the population, up to 129,039 in 2011.

49,204 : The number of Muslims living in Ireland, making it the most important non-Christian

45% : The increase in the number of people identifying themselves as having no religion (269,800 people)

13%: The percentage of 25-29 year olds who had ‘no religion’ the highest for any age group

40.9% increase to 40,161 the number of people seeing themselves as ‘Christian‘, rather than any denominational label. ( Perhaps given the traumas of the Catholic Church, quite a few people who no longer want to be described as members but still want to identify as Christians? Perhaps some evangelicals in here too? There was a bit of an effort in the 2006 census to encourage evangelicals to self-identify as such. The numbers doing so in 2011 actually declined (5276 down to 4188). I’d guess this was because people reverted to denominational label or chose ‘Christian’ instead.  ‘Evangelical’ as a self-chosen label doesn’t really translate very well in an Irish context.)

Atheists in Ireland went up from 929 to 3925.

Orthodox went up 117.4% from 2006 to 45,223 in 2011.

And here’s a shocker regarding Ireland and its close assocation with J N Darby and the huge impact of Brethrenism historically and globally – a total of 336 in 2011.

Don’t know what on earth happened to the Methodists since 2006: down 43% from 12,160 to 6842.

Significant percentages of what the Census calls ‘non-Irish’ people lie behind the growth of many of the religious categories. Probably mainly Polish immigrants within the growth of Roman Catholicism for example (up by 179,899 people from “mainly European” communities). Simliarly for Apostolic / Pentecostal growth – probably mostly African (mainly Nigerian).

Comments, as ever, welcome.

7 thoughts on “Census 2011 – Religion in Ireland

  1. According to a circular yesterday, the Methodist figures may be explained as follows:

    “On the 2006 Census form those who wished could simply tick a box labelled “Methodist”. In the 2011 form Methodists were among the faith groups who were classified as “Other”, and had to write in their denomination. The resulting drop in numbers reflects the manner in which people complete forms rather than the actual numerical strength of our community. The statistics which we collect from our congregations each year would indicate that the Methodist community [in the Republic of Ireland] has in fact increased by 6% since 2006.”

  2. Ah, that makes sense David thanks. The figure sounded wonky but I had no idea why the recoreded drop. So a bunch of Methodists must be in the other ‘Christian’ group.

  3. The low figure for Brethren is indeed striking. The former Merrion Hall had a capacity, I believe, of some 2000; I recall as a child hearing an elderly man speaking of seeing it filled to capacity, including the topmost gallery, during the Great War.
    Probably some congregations directly descended from Brethren assemblies would not so describe themselves now.
    Regarding the influence of the Brethren beyond their own congregations, I know that some of the prominent leaders of the Apostolic Networks in Britain had their origins in the Brethren. It would be interesting to examine the part played by former Brethren in newer church initiatives in Ireland.

  4. Regarding Methodists, it could be that numbers went up with a big influx of people coming from other countries to work, now, with recession people may be moved on to other parts.

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