Census 2016 & Religion

Census 2016Its been 5 years since a Census was last done in Ireland and on April 24th we will be filling out the 45 questions about ourselves and our households to help Government Departments plan for the future. (2017 Edit: Post on Preliminary Results on Census 2016 & Religion)

While for many the census is an opportunity to find out the population of the country at that particular time, it can also give an insight into the social and religious life of a country based on the results. Looking at the results of the last census from 2011, we can make a number of judgements. While most religions are growing along with the population, the largest growth in a religion in Ireland was recorded by the Orthodox faith which grew by 117.4% between 2006 and 2011. This included the Russian, Greek, Coptic Orthodox faiths. The fastest growth in a non-religious community was those who marked ‘Atheist’ who grew by an astonishing 320.3%.

Meanwhile the Methodist faith recorded a drop in adherents falling by nearly half (43.7%) in the five years and those describing themselves as Evangelicals dropped by 20%. Have these declines continued in the last five years?

The full numbers from the 2011 census

Religion Population Growth (%)
Roman Catholic 3,861,335 4.9
Church,of Ireland, England, Anglican, Episcopalian 129,039 6.4
Muslim (Islamic) 49,204 51.2
Other Christian religion, n.e.s. 41,161 40.9
Presbyterian 24,600 4.5
Apostolic,or Pentecostal 14,043 73
Hindu 10,688 75.7
Buddhist 8,703 33.6
Methodist,,Wesleyan 6,842 -43.7
Jehovah’s Witness 6,149 19.4
Lutheran 5,683 7.7
Protestant 5,326 22.3
Evangelical 4,188 -20.6
Atheist 3,905 320.3
Baptist 3,531 5.8
Agnostic 3,521 132.4
Jewish 1,984 5.4
Pagan, Pantheist 1,940 14.7
Mormon 1,284 3.8
Lapsed (Roman) Catholic 1,279 136.9
Society,of Friends (Quaker) 925 4.9
Baha’i 520 3.2
Brethren 336 -7.9
Other stated religions 14,118 64.6
No religion 269,811 44.8
Not stated 72,914 3.7

This year the Census Question on religion will be Question 12 and will look like this:

Census Question on Religion

The Humanist Association of Ireland (HAI) have launched a campaign to get people to tick “no religion” if they consider themselves Atheist, Agnostic or Humanists.

From the HAI Website

We ask you consider seriously the question, ‘What is your religion?’ In response mark the box that reflects how you see yourself now. If you do not have a religion or you do not practise one even if you once did, then tick the ‘No Religion’ box. Answering this way will assure that your current status is reflected in how Ireland has changed for the better.

The HAI appreciates that some people may want to identify themselves as Atheist, Agnostic or Humanist or even leave the question unanswered. Marking ‘No religion’ is better because in doing so your count is added with others to show the true number of those with no religion

tick no religion

According to the HAI there are 5 reasons to tick “No Religion” if it applies to you. These include reasons around provision of schooling as well as wider Government planning such as supports for non-religious chaplains in hospitals.


We at Spirituality Ireland encourage everyone to be honest on their census form and fill it in in a way that correctly describes your beliefs.  For the census to be worth its while accurate data is needed. If you are going to tick “Roman Catholic” but don’t go to mass, don’t believe in the church teachings and don’t believe in god, then do tick “No Religion”. If you identify as spiritual and not religious tick “No Religion” or write down Spiritual or something that best sums up your beliefs.

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