3.86m people (84.2%) of people living in Ireland defined themselves as Roman Catholic in April 2011, a decrease on the 87% who did so in 2006.  Due to general population increase, however, just under 180,000 more people define themselves as Catholic than in 2006.

The next largest religious grouping is the Church of Ireland/Anglican Communion with 129,039 people (2.8%).

There were 49,204 (1.1%) Muslims living in the state.  The Orthodox Church in Ireland and other Christian religions have 45,223 and 41,165 adherents respectively (about 1% of the population each).

However, a large group of people (269,811, 6%) chose the ‘No Religion’ category, a 45% increase on 2006 (83,493 people).  A further 3,905 people chose ‘Agnostic’ and 3,521 chose ‘Atheist’.  Taken together, Agnostic, Atheist and No Religion, total  277,237 people. The low numbers defining themselves as Agnostic or Atheist might be explained by the fact that it is a written choice, not a distinct, listed category on the census form unlike ‘No Religion’.

Where are the high growth areas for the largest religion in the state? Cavan (12.6%), Laois (15.8%) and Longford (11%) saw double digit growth in Catholics since 2006, all of which saw strong general population growth.  Urban areas in contrast, such as Dublin (1.7%) and Waterford City (2.8%) saw relatively small increases in the numbers of Catholics.

In Dublin, 8.9% of people selected ‘No Religion’.  It was 7.9% in Wicklow county, and percentages of between 5 and 6.2% in Clare, Leitrim, Kildare, Cork and Galway.  The lowest rates were in Monaghan with 2.4% and Offaly with 2.55%.

Finally to the matter of the nationality of those in the various religious groups. A decade and a half of in-migration has altered the religious landscape. For example, of the 3.86m Roman Catholics in Ireland, 282,799 (7.3%) are non-Irish nationals.  184,066 of these are from EU27 nationalities other than UK and Ireland.  39.5% of Muslims in Ireland are Irish nationals, meaning that a substantial minority of the Muslim population in Ireland is composed of Irish nationals.

To download the Census 2011 data visit the CSO website here

To view interactive graphs/maps of Census 2011: visit http://www.airo.ie/mapping-module/census

Eoin O’Mahony

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