How is Religion Part of Irish Identity?

Friday 19th November 2021 16-18h online via zoom.

Ireland’s religious history manifests in its language (Dia duit, Dia is Muire duit and even Dia is Muire agus Padraig duit), in its landscape dotted with the ruins of churches and monasteries, and even in the national holiday of St Patrick’s day. The entwinement of church and state from the constitution, to the provision of education and healthcare, the restriction of reproductive rights, to the institutionalization of thousands of women and children in the twentieth century, continues to be deeply problematic in the Republic of Ireland. In Northern Ireland, sectarian divisions between Protestant and Catholic, seen by many to be healing since the Good Friday Agreement, now seem to once again be widening post-Brexit. What does this complex history of Christianity in particular, mean to those who call themselves Irish today?

Despite a rising secularism in the Republic of Ireland, most citizens (>90%) continue to describe themselves as belonging to some religious faith. While Catholicism is still the most widely practiced religion, its numbers are declining. Conversely, the Anglican, Jewish, and Muslim communities are growing, as are the number of people professing no religious affiliation at all. What does this changing religious landscape say about Ireland today? How can religious inclusivity be part of a progressive understanding of what it means to be Irish today?

Join philosophers Felix Ó Murchadha (NUIG), Katherine O’Donnell (UCD), and Daniel Esmonde Deasy (UCD) to discuss these and related questions on the 19th November @16h.

This event is part of a series to be held in 2021 chaired by Dr Lisa Foran (Philosophy, UCD) hosted by The UCD Centre for Ethics in Public Life on what it means to be Irish today. The series is held in the context of Ireland marking centenaries of civil war and independence, establishing a new post-Brexit relationship with Britain and Europe, grappling with COVID-19 and its consequences, and facing the global threat of climate crisis. This series of events at the Centre for Ethics in Public Life, opens discussions on what ‘being Irish’ means in these tumultuous times and what it could mean in the future.

Further details can be found at:


Professor of Philosophy at the National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland, and President of the Irish Philosophical Society. 

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