LISTEN: How religious is Ireland? The Pat Kenny show investigates

The Friday panel saw Fr Alan Hilliard, Chaplain at DIT Bolton Street discuss the future of religion in Ireland with humanist, Brian Whiteside and theologian, Gina Menzies

LISTEN: How religious is Ireland? The Pat Kenny show investigates

Image: Ariel Schalit / AP/Press Association Images

This morning’s Pat Kenny Show took a look at the role of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

Newstalk reporter, Richard Chambers travelled to Monaghan and Dublin to gauge the attitudes of the faithful as mass attendances continue to drop and fewer men hear the call to join the clergy. 

While it is difficult to get definitive data on mass attendances, a report commissioned by the Dublin Council of Priests earlier this year projected that attendances would drop by a third over the next 15 years - which follows the 20% reduction which occurred between 2008 and 2014. 

The same report found that the number of priests in the city is expected to drop by over 60% in the next 15 years -and if religious congregations like the Redemptorists or Jesuits were to relinquish parish responsibilities the city would be left with just 111 priests by 2030 – a drop of 70%. 

These mass-goers in Monaghan view church services as an important part of their daily ritual: 

Hard data on the numbers of young people attending mass are relatively hard to come by - but findings from an exit-poll undertaken by RTÉ on Election Day earlier this year suggest the fall-off in attendance is now "gradual rather than precipitous." 

According to data from the poll, only 12% of 18 - 24-year-old's attend a service weekly with 13% of 24 - 35-year-old's in attendance. 

At 17%, Dublin voters were the least likely to attend a weekly service, although attendance rates were much stronger in other regions - with 37% in Leinster, 41% in Munster, and 47% in Connacht/Ulster. 

Richard spoke with three members of the Newman Society in University College Dublin to hear about the struggles of juggling Catholic and student life - and all the expectations that come with it:

While civil marriages are on the rise, weddings in a Roman Catholic Church still account for more than half of all marriages in the State each year.

Couples looking to marry in the church are obliged to undertake a pre-marriage course – with nine topics ranging from family of origin, to intimacy, natural family planning and fertility.

Richard spoke to Rachael, who had just finished the course. She enjoyed the experience but felt the system does need to be updated:

Following on from Richard's report, Pat was joined by Father Alan Hilliard, Chaplain at DIT Bolton Street, Brian Whiteside, director of ceremonies with the Humanist Association of Ireland and theologian, Gina Menzies for The Friday Panel: