Virgin Mary and baby Jesus. Credit: Montserrat H. Vargas (flickr)

Virgin Mary and baby Jesus. Credit: Montserrat H. Vargas (flickr)

The number of people in Ireland who are of “no religion”  has increased by 73.6% since 2011, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The first part of the results from Census 2016 were published this morning by the CSO  and show that in 2011, 269,800 people identified as having no religion, whereas that number has increased to 468,800 in 2016.

In 1961, 1107 people identified has being non religious. That number had increased to 39,572 in 1981. The number began to increase significantly as the 20th century drew to a close and by 2002, 138,268 didn’t consider themselves as religious.


Michael Nugent, of Atheist Ireland, although welcoming the results, stated that : “We believe that these figures still greatly overestimate the strength of religion, and particularly Catholicism, in Ireland.”

Mr Nugent also added: “Census forms are frequently filled in by a parent, who may fill in a religion for other family members who are not in fact religious. The evidence of day to day life, including Church attendance, indicates that far more than one in ten Irish people are not religious.”

Non religious people are now the second largest group in Ireland, behind Roman Catholics.

Roman Catholicism is still the largest religion in Ireland with 78.3% of the population identifying as Catholics – a 3.4% drop from 2011.