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Irish Catholic

This article is about the cultural group. For the newspaper, see The Irish Catholic.
Irish Catholics
Total population
4.6 million Roman Catholics in Ireland
Unknown number of Roman Catholics of full or partial Irish ethnicity
Regions with significant populations
Template:Country data Republic of Ireland 3,861,335
23x15px Northern Ireland 738,033
Irish, English
Roman Catholicism
Related ethnic groups
Irish people

Irish Catholics are those who are both Roman Catholic and Irish (or of Irish ethnicity). This is not a separate creed or sect in the sense that "Anglo-Catholic" or "Old Catholic" might be. There is no Autonomous ("sui iuris") Particular Church/Rite, such as Greek Catholic or Chaldean Catholic.

Divisions between Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants (both those who would eventually be called the Protestant Ascendancy and those Protestants of more humble societal position, especially Ulster Protestants) have played a major role in the history of Ireland from the 16th century (especially the Reformation in Ireland) to the 20th century (especially the Home Rule Crisis and the Troubles). While religion broadly marks the delineation of these divisions, the contentions were primarily political and related to access to power. For example, while the majority of Irish Catholics saw themselves as having an identity independent of Britain and were excluded from power, a number of the instigators in rebellions against British rule were in fact Protestant Irish nationalists, although most Irish Protestants opposed separatism. During the Irish Rebellion of 1798 both Catholics and Presbyterians, who were not part of the established British state church, found common cause, as they both endured discrimination based on their "dissenter" status.

Irish Catholics can be found in many countries around the world, the English-speaking world especially. Emigration was often initiated by duress as was the case with the Great Irish Famine in the late 1840s, following which the population declined by over half in the following century (from over 8 million to just over 4 million) in the short term due to death from starvation and disease, but in the long term due to the pattern of emigration begun then. The term has currency in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Some of these nations had, or have, a majority of Protestants who are British or of British descent; thus, both aspects – being Catholic, and being Irish – at times separated them from the mainstream culture. In the United States, hostility to both these attributes was expressed through the Know-Nothing movement and Nativism in general.

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