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Church of Ireland

Church of Ireland. Building on 4th-cent. traces, Patrick evangelized Ireland (c.432) and developed a distinctively Celtic Christianity, but with the partial Anglo-Norman conquest of Ireland the church again joined mainstream western Christendom. Though Henry VIII established the Church of Ireland after his Irish break with Rome (1536), the Reformation was less popular than in England. Despite parliamentary suppression of the monasteries (1537), they continued in Gaelic areas, friars pursued their ministry, and Jesuits arrived (c.1545). Elizabeth's Irish Parliament (1560), after hastily, but reluctantly, passing Irish Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity, was as hastily dissolved. The Reformation largely failed. Gaelic, which most Irishmen spoke, was forbidden in worship and the established church was inextricably associated with the colonizing offices of state. After 1580 missionary priests poured in, but Anglo-Scottish colonization of Ulster (c.1610) made it the bastion of protestantism, Ussher's 104 Irish Articles (1615) were Calvinistic in ethos and Cromwell further antagonized Irish opinion by confiscating catholic land and allowing protestants economic predominance. Despite the spirituality of some, such as Jeremy Taylor, the established church was increasingly associated with colonization, unpopular, and lacking vibrant spirituality. William III's promise of toleration (1691) was a dead letter until 1791. After the Anglican archbishoprics were reduced to two and bishoprics by eight (1833), the church, always predominantly evangelical, was disestablished (1869). Today with two archbishoprics and twelve dioceses, it has a total membership (1990) of 437,000 (340,000 in the North and 97,000 in the Republic).

Revd Dr William M. Marshall

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Ireland, Church of

Church of Ireland, Anglican church of both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. As a separate body the church goes back to the Reformation when the Irish church was officially reformed along the same lines as the church in England (see England, Church of). But the effects of the Reformation were superficial in Ireland and the Church of Ireland has always included only a small portion of the Irish population. It was disestablished as the state church in 1869. The church has about 410,000 members (1999), with its main strength in Northern Ireland.

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Church of Ireland

Church of Ireland Anglican Church in Ireland. It claims to be heir to the ancient Church of the island of Ireland. At the time of the Reformation, it ended papal jurisdiction and introduced doctrinal and disciplinary reforms similar to the Church of England. It is territorially divided into two provinces, Armagh and Dublin. The Archbishop of Armagh is Primate of All Ireland. The Church of Ireland was the legally established Church until 1869.

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