12 Slices
Medium 9780253009661

12 Conclusions: Ireland's Religious Geographies— Stability or Change?

Ian N. Gregory Indiana University Press ePub

12

Figure 12.1 shows the distribution of Catholics in 1834 and compares this with their distribution in 2001/2002 as interpolated onto 1834 Church of Ireland dioceses. In many ways very little has changed: Catholics make up the vast majority of the population over much of the island with the exception of Ulster, especially east Ulster, where they are often a minority, Dublin and the Pale, and parts of the south, especially around Cork. In these areas there are significant Protestant populations. These two maps actually understate the degree of long-term spatioreligious stability—while 1834 gives us the first detailed head counts, these geographies were actually laid down in the plantation period over two centuries earlier. This period of emigration and colonization from Britain into Ulster, Dublin and the Pale, and Munster left the geographies that are still clearly apparent today. It also left a legacy of economic and social division and interdependence between the two groups and an intertwining of religion, ethnonational identity, and political opinion that has periodically flared into violence. Conversely, these maps may also overstate the degree of stability, because dioceses are very aggregate units. The maps can and do conceal patterns of concentration and more localized change that more detailed geographies, were they available, might reveal. Nevertheless, this degree of stability appears remarkable. From 1834 to 2001/2002 only three dioceses containing approximately 7.5 percent of the population at both dates saw the Catholic proportion of their population change by more than ten percentage points. Of these, Raphoe and Derry in west Ulster saw their Catholic populations rise from 70 percent to 86 percent and 54 percent to 65 percent, respectively, while the tiny diocese of Kilfenora on the southern shore of the west coast’s Galway Bay saw its Catholic population decline from 99 percent to 84 percent.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253009661

8 Toward the Celtic Tiger: The Republic, 1961 to 2002

Ian N. Gregory Indiana University Press ePub

8

Up to this point the story of the south of Ireland’s economic fortunes has been characterized by an agricultural economy blighted by stagnation and failure. From the beginning of the 1960s a series of policy changes would occur in the Republic that would have profound consequences for the state not simply in the economic sphere but in the social, political, demographic, and even religious realms. It may, at first glance, be tempting to view the period from 1961 to 2002 in terms of a linear path toward economic and social maturity, but such a simplistic teleological interpretation bears little resemblance to what was an extremely turbulent period in the state’s short history.

The 1950s in the Republic of Ireland has come to be seen as a time of economic and social stagnation. By that time people could reflect on the bitter reality that over the thirty years since independence, the state had failed in its primary obligation—to provide the economic means for people to remain living in their own country. De Valera’s 1943 dream of a land of cozy homesteads was instead a place of empty homesteads, much of the “sturdy youth” having departed for New York, London, or Manchester.1 More than four hundred thousand people left the south of Ireland between 1951 and 1961, most of them because of economic necessity.2 Yet it was the sense of failure that crystallized in this decade that led to a renewed determination to resolve the Republic’s ongoing population crisis.3

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253009661

9 Stagnation and Segregation: Northern Ireland, 1971 to 2001

Ian N. Gregory Indiana University Press ePub

9

The late twentieth century saw a stark contrast between the experiences of the Republic of Ireland, described in the previous chapter, and those of Northern Ireland over the same period. While the Republic saw rapid economic progress and a decline in religious divisions, the situation in Northern Ireland was almost the reverse. Between 1971 and 2001 Northern Ireland saw rapid economic change as its traditional industries declined. At the same time it experienced a prolonged sectarian conflict in the form of the Troubles, during which more than three thousand people died. The complexity of the situation means that the next three chapters will be devoted to covering Northern Ireland over this period. chapter 9 looks at demographic, economic, and social change, stressing that in many ways Northern Ireland’s experience was typical of declining heavy industrial regions, albeit with a unique spatioreligious undertone. chapter 10 then moves to exploring the patterns of violence that occurred during the Troubles, which started in the late 1960s and ended with the various ceasefires of the late 1990s. chapter 11 draws these two threads together, focusing on Belfast, the area in which these themes had their largest impacts.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253009661

7 Division and Continuity, 1920s to 1960s

Ian N. Gregory Indiana University Press ePub

7

The Boundary Commission of 1925 confirmed the territorial settlement of Partition. Ireland would remain divided. In many ways Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State had the same central problem at the start of this period: the 1921 treaty had created two states, but it had not created two nations.1 Religious geographies had determined the spatial extents of both jurisdictions, but the choice for both the north and south was how to forge their own identities and the extent to which these identities would be defined by the sectarianism of their geneses. The new formalized division of Ireland was, as we have seen, about more than just religion—it closely reflected the social and economic divisions of the island as well. A second challenge was thus to develop their separate economies. A final question was whether Partition would mark a new beginning for Ireland or whether it would simply continue the trends that had been developing since the mid-nineteenth century.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253009661

11 Belfast through the Troubles: Socioeconomic Change, Segregation, and Violence

Ian N. Gregory Indiana University Press ePub

11

The city of Belfast provides an illustration of much of the division and interdependence that have taken place in Ireland over the last two centuries. Belfast’s success as an industrial city did much to separate the economy and outlook of the Protestant northeast of Ulster from the rest of Ireland. That success had much to do with developing strong links between this part of Ireland and Britain, but it also brought many Catholics from elsewhere in Ireland to the city in search of jobs. This left Belfast with complex spatioreligious patterns that, when the Troubles started in the late 1960s, were particularly contested, resulting, as chapter 10 identified, in the city being the focus for much of the ensuing violence. Over the same period, as described in chapter 9, Belfast went through a period of rapid deindustrialization. Against this background, this chapter first examines the evolving religious geography of the city and related developments in residential segregation. Second, it considers how Belfast has changed socially and economically over the thirty-year period between 1971 and 2001. Third, it looks at the patterns of violence within the city. Finally, the chapter draws these themes together to show how changing spatioreligious patterns and levels of residential segregation are related to wider socioeconomic trends, thereby trying to set Belfast’s experience within the broader context of urban change as observed in other societies.

See All Chapters

See All Slices