How religious are we?
PICTURE OF IRELAND:About 95 per cent of us recorded a religion when we completed our census forms last year. On first sight we might say that Ireland is a very religious place. Eighty-seven per cent of people in Ireland say they are Catholic, although only about half of those attend Mass regularly.
But 256,830 people said they had no religion (up from 186,000 in 2006). As the main map shows, these are distributed across the country, with concentrations in some areas.
The commercial centres of the main cities have larger-than-average proportions of people with no religion. In Dublin, for example, in the area between the canals just over one in five claim to have no religion. Large parts of south Dublin city and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown also have larger-than-average percentages.
We might expect this because a traditional secularisation thesis would suggest that a belief in God is weaker in cities than in rural areas.
However, we can also see that large sections of west Cork, most of Wicklow, west Co Galway, north Co Clare, around Clew Bay, in Mayo, and much of Leitrim also have higher-than-average proportions of those reporting to have no religion. In some of these small areas, the rate is 25 per cent or more of the population.
While affiliation with the Catholic faith is very strong in Ireland, this is gradually changing.