Ireland is globally recognised for its long history of Christianity. There is debate over when people in Ireland first became Christian in large numbers, but most sources agree that Christianity had made inroads by the early 5th century AD, during the lifetime of Augustine of Hippo. Over the centuries, Ireland’s religious reputation was further formed by its monasteries, missionaries and Roman Catholicism. The Republic of Ireland emerged during the 20th century as one of the most Catholic countries in Western Europe.

Religion in Ireland is changing, however, as a global shift toward secularism gradually and inevitably makes an imprint on a population where Christianity has long been the dominant religion. One example: “Regular mass attendance has fallen signicantly since the early 1980s, when some parishes recorded rates of up to 90 percent,” reports The Irish Times. “In some of the poorest areas of Dublin, it has fallen as low as 2 percent, while in more middle-class areas it is between 30 and 40 percent.” Barna has observed similar phenomena in studies conducted on primary faith segments in England and Scotland: While many remain very and sincerely engaged with the majority religion, others maintain it merely as a social or nominal faith—meaning, in the context of Ireland, a large body of Irish Christians are Catholic in name only.

In the midst of these changes is a young generation that is anxious and searching. This report, based on qualitative and quantitative studies conducted in partnership with Christ in Youth, examines young people in the Republic of Ireland between 14 and 25 years old, with a specific emphasis on their faith, worries and perceptions of Christianity.


These initial events are just the beginning. We imagine that there will be various events throughout churches and towns and villages across Ireland. Our hope is that little gatherings of people who have a passion to see God impact young people today take this research and commit to try and meet and serve the needs of young people in their communities. We believe this can be best done through the local church.

If you want to book Jasper to come and speak and dialogue about these findings please contact him on


Attend some type of Christian study or community group


Wade Landers

Senior Director of Global Expansion, Christ In Youth

Jayson French

Vice President of Programming, Christ In Youth

Jasper Rutherford

European Director, Christ In Youth

Thanks to the team at Christ in Youth, sponsors and partners in this research, specifically: Jasper Rutherford, Wade Landers and Jayson French. Additionally, we’d like to acknowledge Summer Madness and J33 for their support of this study.

This monograph would have been impossible without the many youth workers, interviewees and expert readers from Ireland whose insights helped shape this report. We’re especially grateful for the responses of Ruth Garvey- Williams and Gerard Gallagher and the reviews of Peter Rigney and Dominic Perrem.

The research team for this study is Brooke Hempell, Traci Hochmuth and Susan Mettes. Under the editorial direction of Roxanne Stone, the writing team includes Susan Mettes and Alyce Youngblood. Annette Allen designed and laid out the monograph. Brenda Usery managed production.

Additional thanks to our Barna colleagues: Amy Brands, Chrisandra Bolton, Matt Carobini, Joyce Chiu, Inga Dahlstedt, Bill Denzel, Aly Hawkins, David Kinnaman, Elaine Klautzsch, Steve McBeth, Elise Miller, Lisa Schoke, Caitlin Schuman, Sara Tandon, Jess Turner and Todd White.