The RTE documentary, Rome V Republic, examined how the church got such a strong hold over every aspect of the nation’s life after the foundation of the state. It reveals that the famine unexpectedly strengthened the influence of the Catholic Church in Ireland. The documentary, presented by former Justice Minister Michael McDowell, found Irish people in the late 1700s and early 1800s had a much laxer attitude towards mass-going. “We know people wouldn’t have gone to mass every Sunday but this is not to say they weren’t religious in their own way”, said Dr. Sarah Roddy from the University of Manchester. “But I suppose the church might have seen as a kind of unorthodox religion which combined going to mass every now and then but also doing things which had ancient pagan roots as well.” Daniel O’Connell’s campaign for Catholic emancipation energised the country’s Catholics in a mass movement in the early 19th century. But Professor Mary Daly from UCD said the famine had an unexpected effect on the Catholic church in Ireland. The population went from just under 8.2 million in 1841 to just under 5.8 million in 1861. Professor Mary said the dramatic population decline disaster gave the… Read full this story
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