- The Republic of Ireland acknowledges the special role the Catholic Church occupies in Irish life. The 90 percent of the population who belong to the church participate in worship at higher rates than in other Catholic countries.In 1171, the Synod of Cashell established British supremacy over the Irish church. The Church of Ireland was gradually incorporated into the Church of England, and followed it in separation from Rome in the 16th century. However, opposition to British control went hand in hand with support for the Catholic Church, which was finally given legal status in 1829. The Church of Ireland, the Anglican Church in Ireland, was disestablished in 1869; today, it has only 300,000 members, two-thirds of whom live in Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom.In the 16th and 17th centuries, the British government encouraged large-scale immigration of Scots (mostly Presbyterian) into Ireland. While most settled in the north, some managed to introduce Presbyterianism into what is now the Republic of Ireland. Methodism was introduced to Ireland during its first generation in the 18th century. In 1827, John Nelson Darby left the Church of Ireland and launched his radically anticlerical movement, the Plymouth Brethren, in Dublin. The Jehovah's Witnesses date to the 1890s and are second in size only to the Church of Ireland among non-Catholic churches.Pentecostalism came to Ireland in the first decade of the 20th century with the Assemblies of God from England providing the major leadership. During the last decades of the century, the movement expanded and a number of new independent charismatic churches were formed.There is an Irish Council of Churches that serves member bodies in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. It is affiliated with the World Council of Churches. More conservative local congregations in Ireland may affiliate with the Association of Irish Evangelical Churches.Further reading:■ Jean Blanchard, The Church in Contemporary Ireland (Dublin: Clonmore & Reynolds,
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.