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One in five has 'no religion' in town closely linked to Church

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St. Patrick's College, Maynooth. Some 17.9pc of people living in the Co Kildare town stated they had 'no religion' on their Census 2016 form. Stock picture

St. Patrick's College, Maynooth. Some 17.9pc of people living in the Co Kildare town stated they had 'no religion' on their Census 2016 form. Stock picture

St. Patrick's College, Maynooth. Some 17.9pc of people living in the Co Kildare town stated they had 'no religion' on their Census 2016 form. Stock picture

The town most associated with the Catholic Church in Ireland has among the highest proportion of non-religious residents.

Some 17.9pc of people living in Maynooth, Co Kildare, stated they had 'no religion' on their Census 2016 form. This was the second-highest level in the country after Greystones, Co Wicklow, where the figure stands at 18.3pc.

But an analysis of Census data from 2016 and 2006 shows that Roman Catholicism remains, by far, the dominant religion with 78.31pc of the population professing to be a member of the faith. This is an increase of almost 1.3pc, or just under 48,000 people, over the decade.

But the increase is more than surpassed by hikes in 'other stated religions', which are up 131,000, and in the numbers professing to have no faith.

Almost one in 10 of the population - 9.84pc - told Central Statistics Office (CSO) enumerators they had 'no religion' on their Census form in April 2016, a 151pc increase since Census 2006, or 282,103 people. In 2006, the numbers professing to have no faith stood at 186,318, which rose to 269,811 in Census 2011 and to 468,421 in Census 2016.

The data shows the changing make-up of religious communities across the State, and highlights how fewer people believe in a deity today than a decade ago.

Of the 4.76 million-strong population, just over 3.72 million are Roman Catholic; 131,823 are Church of Ireland, including Protestant; and 307,232 are 'other stated religions'. Just over 125,000 did not state if they had a religious belief.

The findings are based on Census data provided by the CSO, and analysed by the Irish Independent.

Of 207 towns for which data is available, 169 reported an increase in 'no religion'. The biggest rise was in Rathangan, Co Kildare, up 640pc or 160 people. The lowest percentage of the population reporting 'no religion' was Clones, Co Monaghan, at just over 2pc.

At least one in 10 of the populations of 61 towns reported having no religion.

Kilmallock, Co Limerick, has the highest proportion of Roman Catholics at 90.95pc of the population. In all, seven towns have rates above 90pc and they also include Banagher and Clara, Co Offaly, Templemore and Fethard, Co Tipperary, Millstreet, Co Cork, and Castleisland, Co Kerry.

The highest proportion of Church of Ireland and other Protestant faiths is in Convoy, Co Donegal, at 10.68pc. The sharpest fall was in Bantry, Co Cork, down 49.22pc.

Some 6.45pc of the population profess to be members of 'other stated religions', which is up 74.4pc or 131,055. The Muslim population increased from 32,539 in 2006 (0.7pc of all religions) to 63,443 in 2016 (1.3pc). The highest proportions are in Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, at 22.95pc and Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon, at 16.3pc.

In the cities, Cork is home to the highest proportion of Roman Catholics at 76.35pc of the population, still below the national average. Some 12.79pc are 'no religion'.

Dublin is home to the highest proportion of Church of Ireland/Protestant at 2.7pc of the population, up slightly.

Some 68.2pc are Roman Catholic, down by 47,230, and 14.79pc are 'no religion', up by 100,140 people.

The highest rate of 'no religion' is in Galway city at 16.19pc of the population, up 137pc or almost 7,500 people. The lowest rate is in Waterford at 10.11pc. Some 75pc of the populations of Waterford and Limerick city are Roman Catholic, a drop in both cities.

Irish Independent