Added on 09/02/2009
L-R: Malcolm Macourt (author), Lady Eames, The Rt Revd the Lord Eames of Armagh, OM, Dr Kenneth Milne (Chairman, Literature Committee)
(Picture: Ulster Tatler/Ian Campbell, with kind permission)
FIRST BOOK ENQUIRING INTO RELIGION IN IRISH CENSUS LAUNCHED
'COUNTING THE PEOPLE OF GOD? THE CENSUS OF POPULATION AND THE CHURCH OF IRELAND'
BY MALCOLM MACOURT
Church of Ireland Publishing has launched a new book by Social Statistician Malcolm Macourt: 'Counting the People of God? The Census of Population and the Church of Ireland' focusing on the Church of Ireland, the second largest Christian denomination on the island of Ireland. It is the first book of its kind, offering specific inquiry into religion in the Irish Census. The publication, which will have broad appeal to general readers and specialists with interests in religion, social and cultural history and geography, was launched by the Rt Revd Lord Eames of Armagh, OM, at a convivial evening event in Belfast's historic Linen Hall Library on (a very wintry) Friday 6th February.
Author Malcolm Macourt commented: 'The first time religion was asked about in the Census was in 1861 – a mere 15 years after the Famine and while the Church of Ireland was still the Established Church in Ireland. The long-term decline in the population of the island had, however, already begun, and continued far into the 20th century. Since 1991 there appears to have been a recovery in the Church of Ireland in the Republic of Ireland – by 2006 it had increased from less than 85,000 to over 115,000, but that increase needs to be carefully considered, and this study seeks to do that.'
As for Northern Ireland, Macourt's book offers interesting insights, such as showing that it is possible to identify where the ‘peace lines’ were placed just by looking at the maps of 'Census Output Areas'.
The author continued, 'The Census is an amazing record of the state of the people, a snapshot taken from time to time. The people of the Church of Ireland have changed a lot – but they are not alone in that. Who answers 'Church of Ireland' in Censuses in the new millennium? Both church-goers and those on the periphery of the church – but also those whose 'heritage' is Church of Ireland.'
Malcolm Macourt is a Social Statistician and a son of the Church of Ireland. He was a lecturer in the Universities of Dundee, Durham and Northumbria. Since 2003 he has been an Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for Census and Survey Research, Manchester University.
The book is available from the Good Bookshop, Donegall Street, Belfast and the Resource Centre, Rathmines, Dublin, price £18 or €22.
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