Ireland, Republic of

The prominent role of religion in the social life and structures of the Republic of Ireland has been a salient feature of the state ever since its creation. Ireland historically has had ambivalent relations with England and the United Kingdom, and developments in the 19th and early 20th centuries led to the identification of Irish nationalism with Catholicism. As a result of the partition of the island in 1921, the new state comprised an overwhelming Catholic majority. At that time, 26 counties were granted dominion status as the Irish Free State, while the 6 Protestant-majority ones in Northern Ireland elected to remain within the United Kingdom. Catholicism thus came to be closely associated with the dominant sense of Irish identity and with the state itself, ...

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