Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, July 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
Tired of seeing ads while studying? Now you can enjoy an "Ads Free" version of the site for as little as 10¢ a day and support a great cause!
Click here to learn more!

Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Search for…
Prev Entry
Next Entry
Ireland, Council of
Resource Toolbox
Additional Links

the more western of the two principal islands of which the kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland is composed, between lat. 510 25' and 550 23' N., and long. 6° 20' and 100 20' W. Area, 32,513 sq. miles.

At the time when the island became known to the Greeks and the Romans its inhabitants were Celts. Of Celtic origin is the original name of Erin, which means "West Side," and was changed by the Greeks into Ierne, and by the Romans, who made no endeavors to subjugate the island, into Hibernia. During the whole period of the rule of the Romans over Brittany the history of Ireland is enveloped in profound obscurity. According to later chronicles, Ireland is said to have had in the 3rd century five states, Momonia, Connacia, Lagenia, Ultonia, and Modia (Meath). As the people were akin to the Celts of Scotland, Ireland was, until the 4th century, often called Great Scotland (Scotia major). Christianity appears to have been brought to Ireland at al early time, perhaps as early as the 2nd century. A reference to Ireland is, in particular, found in the words of Tertullian, who says that parts of the British Islands which had never been visited by the Romans were subject to Christ. In the 4th century a number of churches and schools are mentioned, and even before the 4th century missionaries went out from Ireland. Celestius; the friend and colaborer of Pelagius, was, according to Jerome, an Irishman, and the son of Christian parents. That the Irish had received their Christianity not from Rome, but from the East, is shown by their aversion against the institutions of the Church of Rome.

The first Roman missionary, who about 430 was sent to Ireland by pope Coelestius, was not well received, and had soon to return to Scotland. Two years later (432), the Scotch monk St. Patrick (q.v.) arrived in Ireland. He had spent his youth in Ireland as a slave, and had subsequently lived for some time in Gaul. With great zeal he preached Christianity throughout Ireland, converted several, and was, in particular, active for the establishment of convents, so that Ireland was called the island of the Saints. He settled finally as bishop of Armagh, which see thus received metropolitan power over all Ireland. According to some writers (Wiltsch, Kirchl. Statistik, 2, 48), Ireland was, however, without its own archbishop, being, until the 12th century, subject to the archbishop of Canterbury; according to others, pope Eugene, as early as 625, appointed four metropolitan sees at Armagh, Dublin, Cashel, and Tuam. Certain it is that the permanent division of Ireland into the four ecclesiastical provinces of Armagh, Dublin, Cashel, and Tuam took place about 1150 (according to Moroni in 1152, at the Council of Mellefont; according to Wiltsch in 1155). From this time the primacy of Armagh over all the sees of Ireland was generally recognized. The first bishops for a long time maintained their independence with regard to Rome. In the 7th century Rome endeavored to induce the Irish churches to conform themselves with regard to the celebration of Easter to the practice of the Roman Church instead of following, as heretofore, the rite of the Eastern churches.

The Irish made a long resistance, until, in 717, the monks in Iona (q.v.) were on this account either expelled or coerced into submission. Most of the Irish churches then submitted; yet, as late as the 12th century, some monks were found who adhered to the Eastern practice of celebrating Easter. In the 9th century the Irish Church was considerably disturbed by the invasions of the Northmen, who destroyed many churches, and burned manuscripts and convents. These invasions were followed by a period of anarchy, during which the moral condition of the Irish clergy greatly degenerated. The complaints of Rome at this time referred chiefly to the peculiar ecclesiastical practices of the Irish the marriage of the clergy, the administration of baptism without chrisma, and the use of their own liturgy. The legates of the popes finally succeeded in obtaining the entire submission of the Irish Church to the Church of Rome about the middle of the 12th century, which until then is believed to have been without auricular confession, sacrifice of the mass, and indulgences, and to have celebrated the Lord's Supper in both kinds. In 1155 a bull of pope Hadrian IV allowed king Henry II of England to subject Ireland, the king, in his turn, promising the pope to protect the papal privileges. In 1172, a synod at Cashel regulated the ecclesiastical affairs in accordance with the wishes of Rome. During the time of the following kings of the house of Plantagenet the clergy were in a deplorable condition: the bishops carried the sword, and lived with their clergy in open and secret sins. The monks, who were very different from what they had been in former times, traversed the country as troublesome beggars, molesting the priests as well as the laity.

When Henry VIII undertook to make himself the head of the Church in his dominions he met in Ireland with a violent opposition. The opposition was the more popular as it was intimated that henceforth only such priests as understood the English language would be appointed. The Englishman, George Brown, who was appointed bishop of Dublin, met, therefore, in spite of his earnest and incessant labors in behalf of the Reformation, with but little success. The English liturgy was introduced in 1551, under Edward VI, but the order to hold divine service in the English language seems not to have been executed. The germs of Protestantism were wholly destroyed under' the government of Mary. The people were not prepared for the Reformation, and the clergy were not as corrupt as in many other countries. Moreover, there were among the ministers who had been sent to Ireland as Protestant missionaries many adventurers, who, by disreputable conduct, strengthened the aversion of the people to Protestantism.

Under the government of Elizabeth, an order was issued in 1560 to introduce the general use of the English liturgy and of the English language at divine service. Some years later, however, concessions appear to have been made in favor of the old Irish language. In 1602 the first translation of the New Testament into the Irish language by William Daniel appeared, but the translation of the whole Bible was not finished until 1665. The persistent endeavors of the English government to extirpate the native language established a close union between the Irish nationality and the Church of Rome. The excitement against England greatly increased when Elizabeth showed a design to confiscate the whole property of the Roman Catholic Church in behalf of the Protestant clergy. A number of revolts consequently occurred, which found a vigorous support on the part of the pope and the Spanish court.

A plan submitted by the English lord lieutenant, Sir John Perrot, for thoroughly Anglicizing Ireland, was rejected as being too expensive, and thus England was compelled to maintain at a heavy expense a large military force in Ireland. In 1595 the chieftain Hugh O'Niele, whom Elizabeth had made earl of Tyrone, placed himself at the head of a powerful insurrection, which was mainly supported by Irish soldiers who had returned from military service in foreign countries. The earl of Essex, with an army of 22,000 men, was unable to quell the insurrection; but his successor, lord Mountjoy, was more successful, and pacified the whole island. In 1601 the Irish again rose, aided by Spanish troops under Aquila and Ocampo; but the combined forces of Ocampo and O'Niele were, on Dec. 24,1601, totally defeated by Mountjoy near Kinsale. The Spaniards left Ireland in January, 1602, and O'Niele made peace with the English. At the death of Elizabeth the whole of Ireland was under English rule. As a large number of Irish had perished in this conflict, 600,000 acres of land were confiscated in favor of English colonists. In view of the close alliance between the Church of Rome and the native Irish, the government of Elizabeth proceeded with equal severity against both: the public exercise of the Catholic religion was totally forbidden, and every inhabitant, under penalty of twelve pence, was commanded to be present at divine service celebrated in the Anglican churches. Decrees like this provoked a general dissatisfaction, which was carefully fomented by the Jesuits of the University of Douay, in the Netherlands (now belonging to France).

On the accession of James I to the English throne the papal party was very powerful: it expelled the Protestant ministers from many' places, and re-established the service of the Catholic Church. These attempts were forcibly suppressed, and new insurrections consequently were caused, all of which proved of short duration. In order to break the power of the Catholic chieftains, the government of James, following the example of queen Elizabeth, was especially intent upon wresting from them their landed property. Whoever was unable to prove, by means of a bill of feoffment, his title to his property, lost it. Thus, in the northern part of Ireland alone, about 800,000 acres were confiscated by the crown, which sold them to English speculators and to Scottish colonists, who founded the town of Londonderry. From this time dates the predominance of Protestantism in Ulster the northern province of Ireland. At the same time, however, many most beneficent measures were taken for improving the social condition of the people. The English law supplanted the previous lawlessness; all inhabitants were declared to be free citizens, and the country was divided into parishes. In 1615 an Irish National Parliament was called to sanction these measures. In consequence of the interference of the government, there were among the 226 members of the lower house only 101 Catholics, while the upper house, consisting of 50 members, consisted almost entirely of Protestants. The Catholics were, moreover, excluded from the public offices, because most of them refused (hence their name "Recusants") to take the oath of supremacy, which designated the king of England as head of the Church: At the beginning of the reign of Charles I the Anglican Church was nevertheless in a deplorable condition.

Many churches were destroyed, the bishoprics impoverished, the clergy ignorant, indolent, and impoverished. A convocation called in 1634 adopted the 39 articles of the Church of England, and retained the 104 articles of the Irish Church which had been adopted by the Parliament of 1615. The constitution of the Church of Ireland was defined in 100 canons, which were of a somewhat more liberal character than the 141 canons of the Church of England. The Roman Catholics were generally allowed to celebrate divine service in private houses, and many priests who had fled returned. At the same time the Irish nationality continued to be persecuted, and a number of new confiscations were added to the old ones. On Oct. 23,1644, a bloody insurrection broke out under the leadership of Roger More, O'Neale, and lord Maguire, the descendants of former chieftains. Within a few days from 40,000 to 50,000 Protestant Englishmen were murdered (according to other accounts the number of killed amounted to only 6000), and an equally large number is said to have perished while trying to flee. The enraged Parliament ordered the confiscation of two and a half million acres of land, but, in consequence of its conflict with the king, was unable to achieve anything.

The king's lieutenant, the marquis of Ormond, concluded peace with the Catholic Irish, who received the promise of religious toleration, and, in return, furnished to the king an army against the Parliament. When after the execution of the king, Ormond tried to gain the support of the Catholic Irish for the prince of Wales as king Charles II, the English Parliament sent an army of 10,000 men under Cromwell to Ireland, which conquered the whole island. The Catholics were punished with the utmost severity; all their landed property, about 5,000,000 acres, confiscated; about 20,000 Irish sold as slaves to the West Indies, and 40,000 others compelled to flee to Spain and France. The celebration of Catholic service was forbidden, and all Catholic priests ordered to quit Ireland within twenty days. The restoration of royalty caused no important changes in the condition of the people. Religious persecution ceased by order of Charles II, but the Protestants remained in possession of the confiscated property. The accession of the Catholic James II filled the Irish Catholics with the greatest hopes, and when, after his expulsion, he landed, at the beginning of 1689, with a French army of 5000 men, he was received by the Catholics with enthusiasm. His army in a short time numbered more than 38,000 men, and he succeeded in capturing all the fortified places except Enniskillen and Londonderry. Large numbers of Protestants had to leave the country because their lives and property were no longer secure. Soon, however, the victories of William III over the Catholic party on the Boyne River, near Drogheda (July 1, 1690), and near Aughrim (July 13, 1691), completed the subjugation of Ireland. The peace concluded with the British general Ginkel at the surrender of Limerick promised to the Irish the free exercise of their religion as they had possessed it under Charles II. While James II had deprived 2400 Protestant landowners of their estates, now more than 12,000 Irishmen who had fought for James voluntarily went into exile. A resolution of the English Parliament ordered a new confiscation of 1,060,000 acres, which were distributed among the Protestants, who began to organize themselves into Orange societies. A number of rigorous and cruel penal laws were passed in order to extirpate the national spirit and the Roman Catholic Church.

Bishops and other high dignitaries were exiled; the priests were confined to their own counties; all instruction in the Catholic religion and its public exercise were forbidden; the Catholic Irishmen were not allowed to own horses of higher value than £5, or to marry Protestants, and were excluded from all public offices. The irritation produced by these laws was still' increased when the English Parliament, by imposing high duties on the exports from Ireland, dealt a heavy blow to the commerce and prosperity of the island, and when, in 1727, it deprived the Catholic Irish of the franchise. These harsh measures soon led to the establishment of several secret societies, as the "Defenders," the "Whiteboys" (about 1760), so called from the white shirts which they threw over their other clothes when at night they attacked unpopular landlords and their officers; and the "Hearts of Oak" (about 1763). During the American War of Independence, the Irish, under the pretext that the French might avail themselves of the withdrawal of most of the British troops to invade their island, formed a volunteer army, which, in the course of two years, increased to 50,000 men. Monster petitions numerously signed by Irish Protestants also, demanded the abolition of the penal laws, the restoration of the Irish Parliament, reform of the rotten electoral law, and relief of Irish commerce. Fear of a general insurrection induced the Parliament to mitigate the penal laws, and to allow the Catholics to establish schools, to own landed property, and to exercise their religious worship. The onerous tithes which the Catholics had to pay to the Protestant clergy soon led to the establishment of another secret society, the "Right Boys," who, by means of oaths and threatened vengeance, endeavored to intimidate the Catholics from paying tithes.

A still more dangerous movement was called forth by the outbreak of the French Revolution. The league of "United Irishmen," which, in November 1791, was formed at Dublin by former members of the volunteer army, endeavored, in union with the French convent, to make Ireland an independent republic. When the Catholics, at a meeting in Dublin in 1792, demanded equal rights with Protestants, the British Parliament abolished several penal laws, and gave to the Catholics the right of becoming attorneys-at-law and of marrying Protestants. In 1793 the law was abolished which fined the Catholics for, neglecting to attend the Protestant Church on Sunday; at the same time they were admitted to several lower public offices, and received the right to vote. The United Irishmen, nevertheless, assumed a threatening attitude, and a French corps of 25,000 men, under general Hoche, landed in Ireland. The latter had, however, to leave again in December 1796, and a new insurrection, which broke out in May 1798, was unsuccessful. In 1800 the Irish Parliament, bribed by the English Parliament, consented to the legislative union of Ireland with Great Britain, and in the next year the first united Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland assembled. The union of the two parliaments involved the union of the Anglican churches in the two countries, which now received the name of the United Church of England and Ireland. Several further concessions were, however, about this time made to the Catholics. In 1795 a Catholic theological seminary had been established at Maynooth, as the British government hoped that if the Catholic priests were educated upon British territory they would be less hostile to British rule. The rules against convents were also moderated, and at the close of the 18th century the Dominican order alone had in Ireland about forty- three convents. In 1805 the "Catholic Association" was formed to secure the complete political emancipation of the Catholics. It soon became the center of all political movements in Ireland, and, as the Orange lodges began likewise to be revived, frequent disturbances between Catholics and Protestants took place.

In 1825 both associations were dissolved by the British government; but the Catholic association was at once reorganized by O'Connell, and gained considerable influence upon the elections. The unceasing agitation of O'Connell, aided by the-moral support of the Liberal party in England, finally succeeded in inducing the British ministry to lay before Parliament a bill of emancipation, which passed after violent debates, and was signed by George IV on April 13, 1829. The oath which the members of Parliament had to take was so changed that Catholics also could take it. At the same time they obtained access to all public offices, with the only exception of that of lord chancellor. This victory encouraged the Catholics to demand further concessions; in particular, the abolition of the tithes paid to the Protestant clergy, and the repeal of the legislative' union between Great Britain and Ireland. To that end O'Connell organized the "Repeal Association," to which the ministry of earl Grey opposed in 1833 the Irish Coercion Bill, which authorized the lord lieutenant of Ireland to forbid mass meetings and to proclaim martial law. When the liberal ministry of Melbourne rescinded the Coercion Bill and began to pursue a conciliatory policy towards Ireland, O'Connell dissolved the Repeal Association. Earl Mulgrave, since 1835 lord lieutenant of Ireland, filled the most important offices with Catholics, and in 1836 suppressed all the Orange lodges. In 1838 the British Parliament adopted the Tithe Bill. When, in August, 1841, the government fell again into the hands of the Tories, O'Connell renewed the repeal agitation so violently that in 1843 he was arrested and sentenced to one year's imprisonment, a sentence which was, however, annulled by the Court of Peers. The repeal agitation ended suddenly by the death of O'Connell in 1847, because no competent successor in the leadership of the party could be found. It was followed by the ascendency of the more radical Young Ireland party, which did not, like O'Connell, court an alliance with the Catholic Church, but preferred to it an outspoken sympathy with the radical Republicans of France, and is on that account not so much interwoven with the ecclesiastical history of Ireland as the movements of O'Connell.

The ultramontane doctrines taught in the seminary of Maynooth called forth an agitation in Protestant England for a repeal of the annual subsidy which that seminary received from the British government. New offence was given to the bishops and the ultramontane party by the establishment of three undenominational "Queen's Colleges." The bishops' unanimously denounced the colleges as "godless," and warned all Catholic parents against them; they could, however, not prevent that ever from the beginning the majority of the students in these colleges were children of Catholic parents. The disregard of the episcopal orders showed a decline of priestly influence upon a considerable portion of the Catholic Irishmen. This decline of priestly influence became still more apparent when, during the civil war in the United States, the Fenian organization was formed for the express purpose of making Ireland an independent republic. As it was chiefly directed against English rule in Ireland, the new organization, like all its predecessors, had to direct its attacks prominently against the Established Church of Ireland, and thus appeared to have to some extent an anti-Protestant character; but, being a secret society, it was excommunicated by the pope, and denounced by all the Irish bishops. The general sympathy with which it nevertheless met among the Catholic Irishmen. both of Ireland and the United States is therefore a clear proof that the Catholics of Ireland no longer obey the orders of their bishops as blindly as formerly.

The Established Church of Ireland, regarding itself as the legitimate successor of the medieval Catholic Church, and taking possession of all her dioceses, parishes, and Church property, retained for a long time the same diocesan and parochial divisions as the Roman Catholic Church. As late as 1833 the Church, notwithstanding its small membership, had 4 archbishoprics and 18 bishoprics: namely, Armagh, with 5 bishoprics; Dublin, with 4 bishoprics; Tuam, with 4 bishoprics; and Cashel, with 5 bishoprics. The income of these 22 archbishops and bishops was estimated at from £130,000 to £185,000. In 1833 the first decisive step was taken towards reducing the odious prerogatives of the Established Church.

The number of archbishoprics was reduced to two, Armagh and Dublin, and the number of bishoprics to ten, five for each archbishopric. As the income was very unequally distributed, all the benefices yielding more than £200 had a tax of from ten to fifteen per cent imposed upon them, the proceeds of which were employed for church building, raising the income of poor clergymen, and other ecclesiastical purposes. In 1868, the English House of Commons, on motion of Mr. Gladstone, resolved to disestablish the Church of Ireland. The proposition was rejected by the House of Lords. Public opinion expressed itself, however, so strongly against the continuance of the privileges of the Irish Church, that the report of the royal commissioners on the revenues and condition of the Church of Ireland (dated July 27, 1868) recommended important reductions as to the benefices of the Irish Church. This report, a volume of more than 600 pages, is replete with interesting information, and is one of the best sources of information concerning the condition of the Church at this time. It states that the total revenue of the Church from all sources was at this time £613,984; 1319 benefices half a Church population of over forty persons, and extending to 5000 and upwards.

Four bishoprics were suggested for abolition, namely, Meath, Killaloe, Cashel, and Kilmore. The commissioners were in favor of leaving one archbishopric only, that of Armagh. All bishops were to receive £3000 a year income, and an additional £500 when attending Parliament. The primate was to get £6000, and the archbishop of Dublin, if continued, £5000. The abolition of all cathedrals and deaneries except eight was recommended. With a view to rearrangement of benefices, it was proposed that ecclesiastical commissioners should have extended powers to suppress or unite benefices. All benefices not having a Protestant population of forty were to be suppressed. The estates of all capitular bodies and of the bishoprics abolished were to be vested in ecclesiastical commissioners, and the surplus of all property vested in them to be applicable at their discretion to augmentation of benefices. The ecclesiastical commission was to be modified by the introduction of three unpaid laymen and two paid commissioners, one appointed by tile crown, the other by the primate. The management of all lands was to be taken out of the hands of ecclesiastical persons and placed in those of the ecclesiastical commissioners. Mr. Gladstone having become, towards the close of the year i868, prime minister, introduced in March 1869, a new bill for the disestablishment and disendowment of the Irish Church. It passed a second reading in the House of Commons, after a long and excited debate, by a vote of 368 to 250, showing a majority in favor of the passage of 118; and in the House of Lords by a majority of 33 in a house of 300 members.

The amendments adopted by the House of Lords were nearly all rejected by the Commons, and on July 26 it received the royal assent. The bill, which contains sixty clauses, is entitled "A bill to put an end to the establishment of the Church of Ireland, and to make provision in respect to the temporalities thereof, and in respect to the royal College of Maynooth." The disestablishment was to be total, but was not to take place until Jan. 1, 1870, when the ecclesiastical courts were to be abolished, the ecclesiastical laws to cease to have any authority, the bishops to be no longer peers of Parliament, and all ecclesiastical corporations in the country to be dissolved. The disendowment was technically and legally to be total and immediate.

Provision was made for winding up the ecclesiastical commission. and the constitution of a new commission, composed of ten members, in which the whole property of the Irish Church was to be vested from the day the measure received the royal assent. A distinction was made between public endowments (valued at £15,500,000), including everything in the nature of a state grant or revenue, which were to be resumed by the state, and private endowments (valued at £500,000), which were defined as money contributed from private sources since 1660, which were to be restored to the disestablished Church. Provision was made for compensation to vested interests, including those connected with Maynooth College and the Presbyterians who were in receipt of the regium donum. Among these interests, the largest in the aggregate were those of incumbents, to each of whom was secured during his life, provided he continued to discharge the duties of his benefice, the amount to which he was entitled, deducting the amount he might have paid for curates, or the interest might, under certain circumstances, be commuted, upon his application for a life annuity.

Other personal interests provided for were those of curates, permanent and temporary, and lay compensations, including claims of parish clerks and sextons. The amount of the Maynooth grant and the reg ium donum was to be valued at fourteen years' purchase, and a capital sum equal to it handed over to the respective representatives of the Presbyterians and of the Roman Catholics. The aggregate of the payments would amount to about £8,000,000, leaving about £7,500,000, placing an annual income of about £30,000,000 at the disposal of Parliament. This was to be appropriated "mainly to the relief of unavoidable calamity and suffering, but in such a way as not to interfere with the obligation imposed upon property by the poor laws," A constitution for the disestablished Church was adopted by a General Convention, held in Dublin in 1870.

The Church will be governed by a General Synod, consisting of a House of Bishops and a House of Clerical and Lay Delegates. The House of Bishops has the right of veto, and their veto prevails also at the next synod; but seven bishops must agree upon a veto to make it valid. The bishops will be elected by the Diocesan Convention, but the House of Bishops will in all cases be the court of selection when the Diocesan Synod does not elect by a majority of two thirds of each order a clergyman to fill the vacant see, The primate (archbishop of Armagh) shall be elected by the Bench of Bishops out of their own number. The property of the Church is to be vested in a "Representative Church Body," which is to be permanent. It is to be composed of three classes: the exoficio, or archbishops and bishops; the elected members, who are to consist of one clerical and two lay representatives for each diocese; and the co-opted members, who are to consist of persons equal in number to such dioceses, and to be elected by the ex-offcio and representative members. The elected members are to retire in the proportion of one third by rotation. The Convention also adopted a resolution against the introduction of the ritualistic practices which have crept into the Established Church of England.

The following table shows the population connected with the Anglican Church, according to the official census of 1881, in each of the counties, together with the number of Roman Catholics, and the population of other religious denominations in each:



Roman Catholics

Protestant Episcopal -ians

Presbyteri- ans

Metho- dists

All Other Deno mina- tions





































The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland is governed by four archbishops, whose sees are in Armagh, Dublin, Cashel, and Tuam, and twenty-four bishops; they are all nominated by the pope, generally out of a list of three names submitted to him by the parish priests and chapter of the vacant diocese, and reported on by the archbishops and bishops of the province. In case of expected incapacity from age or infirmity, the bishop names a coadjutor, who is usually confirmed by the pope, with the right of succession. In many of the dioceses a: chapter and cathedral corps have been revived, the dean being appointed by the cardinal protector at Rome. The diocesan dignitaries are the vicars-general, of whom there are one, two, or three, according to the extent of the diocese, who have special disciplinary and other powers; vicars-forane, whose functions are more restricted; the archdeacon, and the parish priests or incumbents. All of these, as well as the curates, are appointed by the bishop. The whole of the clergy are supported solely by the voluntary contributions of their flocks.

The episcopal emoluments arise from the mensal parish or two, the incumbency of which is retained by the bishop, from marriage licenses, and from the cathedraticum, an annual sum, varying from £2 to £10, paid by each incumbent in the diocese. The 2425 civil parishes in Ireland are amalgamated into 1073 ecclesiastical parishes or unions, being 445 livings less than in the Anglican Church. The incomes of the parish priests arise from fees on marriages, baptisms, and deaths, on Easter and Christmas dues, and from incidental voluntary contributions either in money or labor. The number of priests in Ireland in 1853 was 2291 (of whom 1222 were educated at Maynooth College); in 1889 it was 3353. The curates of the- parish priests form more than a half of the whole clerical strength; and scattered through the cities and towns are 70 or 80 communities of priests of various religious orders or rules, hence called Regulars, who minister in their own churches, and, though without parochial jurisdiction, greatly aid the secular clergy. All the places of public worship are built by subscriptions, legacies, and collections. There are numerous monasteries and convents; the latter are supported partly by sums, usually from £300 to £500, paid by those who take the vows in them, and partly by the fees for the education of the daughters of respectable Roman Catholics. Various communities of monks and nuns also devote themselves to the gratuitous education of the children of the poor.

Candidates for the priesthood, formerly under the necessity of obtaining their education in continental colleges, are now educated at home. The principal clerical college is that of Maynooth, which was founded in 1795 as Royal College of St. Patrick at Maynooth. The Irish Parliament made to it an annual grant of £14,000; the English Parliament sanctioned the grant, but reduced it to,£8927, out of which the professors and 480 students were supported. The Irish lord Dunboyne founded 20 more scholarships. In 1845, the government, under the administration of Sir Robert Peel. raised the annual grant to £26,000; more recently this sum was again raised to £38,000. In 1869, when the Anglican Church was disestablished, a capital sum equal to the amount of the Maynooth grant, valued at fourteen years' purchase, was handed over to the representatives of the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic University at Dublin was established at a synodal meeting of the Catholic bishops held on May 18, 1854.

At a conference held in 1863 the bishops resolved to enlarge the university, and to erect a new building at the cost of £100,000. There are, besides, the Catholic colleges of St. Patrick, Carlow; St. Jarlath, Tuam; St. John's, Waterford; St. Peter's, Wexford; St. Colman's, Fermoy; St. Patrick's, Armagh; St. Patrick's, Thurles; St. Kvran's, Kilkenny; St. Mel, Longford; All Hallows (devoted exclusively to prepare priests for foreign missions), and Clonliffe, Dublin, all supported by voluntary contributions.

There are also for the education of Irish priests two colleges in Rome, the Irish College and the College of St. Isidor, and one in Paris. The number of religious communities of men has decreased during the last hundred years. The Dominicans, at the time of Benedict XIV, had 29 houses, in 1890 only 13 houses, with about 50 monks'; the Augustinies had formerly 28, now 11 convents; the Carmelites have 19 houses, formerly 167; the Jesuits 5 colleges, 1 home and 70 members; the Lazarists, Passionists, and Redemptorists 2 houses each; the brothers of the Christian Schools have a large number of institutions.

The following is a statistical summary of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland in 1889:

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Ireland'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​i/ireland.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
Ads FreeProfile