A Critical Sociological Account of the Role of Religion in Contemporary Irish Society – Term Paper Example

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The paper "A Critical Sociological Account of the Role of Religion in Contemporary Irish Society"  is an outstanding example of a term paper on sociology. Religion is customary to all cultures. For a long time, religion contributes to society by playing various social roles. Some communities can even be described as religious because of the adoption of a single or related religious outlook in social norms, beliefs, and values. The traditional Irish society is one such social amalgamation in which religion defines the day-to-day way of living. This essay will give a critical sociological account on the role of religion in contemporary Irish society.

It will begin by giving an overview of religion(s) in the Ireland society, and this will be followed by sub-topics relating to the interaction of the society with religious themes. The research will draw on academic data retrieved from peer-reviewed journals, articles, and books with content relevant to the topic. The aim is to draw out the relationship between religion and social life in Ireland with the intent of finding out the role that religion plays in this society. Religion in Ireland Religion is recognized on the basis of theology, faith, and culture (Doyle & Gallagher, 2006).

Clifford Geertz an anthropologist defined religion as an ideology of symbols which act to put a powerful, pervasive, and eternal moods and motivations in humans by establishing conceptions of a particular order of existence and clothing these concepts with a factual aura such that the moods and motivations are perceived as realistic in a unique way (Bruce, 1995). Christianity is the predominant religion in Ireland, with Roman Catholic being the largest sub-sect in both the Republic and Northern Ireland.

About 84.2 percent of the Republic of Ireland population identified as Roman Catholic in 2011. This is because initially, the 1936 Constitution was made in such a way that it guaranteed the Catholic Church a herald position as the one for the majority although there is freedom of religion for other denominations. Notable religions from the Protestant sub-sects include The Church of Ireland (Anglican), The Presbyterian Church, and The Methodist Church. Actually, many people assume Ireland to be a Catholic country, and although Catholics are the largest group, this assumption is not referenced in the Constitution (Whelan, 1994) The contemporary Irish society has faced an increase in other religious denominations including Muslim, Jewish, Jehovah’ s Witnesses, and Hindu as a result of intensity in immigration in the current global environment (Whelan, 1994).

Also, as a result of increased secularization in the present, the country has also seen an increased number of people describing themselves as agnostics and atheists. Ways in which religion may be seen to have a unique position in Irish society Religion usually has several various aspects from personal spiritual beliefs to institutional structures such as hospitals and schools, and even to the extent of religious groups to influence the legislation of a land (Doyle & Gallagher, 2006).

There is the religious reference in the Ireland Constitution which emphasizes that the terminologies “ In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from whom all authority and to whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and states must be referred” (Billings, 2004, p. 15). When the ecumenical movement gained significance in Ireland, it led to an alternative to denominational attitudes, and this led to mainstream Christianity being partly endorsed by Ireland’ s 1944 Education Act.

Some of the Act’ s provisions included that every school day begins with a parade and an act of worship in which religious instruction is provided in accordance with an already agreed syllabus made available to all pupils. However, the Act did not avail provisions for other religious traditions, although it also did not specify the form of instruction or worship. The perpetual effect of the Act was to weaken the attachment of mainstream Christianity to British society.

It was believed that non-denominational teaching and worship would become sensible when co-related with more specific Church teaching that it believed children would have. However, this belief did not come through; instead, the education in Ireland came to be affected differently as the Catholic religious beliefs became dominant while the Protestant became a minority.


Billings, A. (2004). Secular lives, sacred hearts. UK: SPCK

Brewer, J.D. (2005). Ensuring equality of religion and belief in Northern Ireland: New challenges Public lecture to the ESRC/Northern Ireland Equality Commission joint seminar.

Bruce, S. (1995). Religion in the modern world. London: Routledge.

Darby, S. (1976). Conflict in Northern Ireland: The development of a polarized community Dublin: Gill and Macmillan.

Doyle, J., & Gallagher, C. (2006). In a changing Ireland, has social care practice left religious and spiritual values behind?” Dublin: Proceedings of Seminar

Harris, M., & Fallon, B. (2011). “Ireland: Culture and religion, 1912-49”, Multitext Project in Irish History, Retrieved April 25 from http://multitext.ucc.ie/d/Ireland_culture__religion_1912-49.

O’Leary, R. (2001). “Modernization and inter-religious marriage in the Republic of Ireland”, The British Journal of Sociology 52(4), 647.

Whelan, C., T. (1994). "Religious and moral values," pp. 7-44 in Christopher T. Whelan (ed), Values and Social Change. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan.

White, T. (2000) Celts, conquest, and conflicting identities in Ireland. Ireland: Celtic Cultural Studies.

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