Best Irish FactsFacts on Ireland and the Irish

Church of Ireland

Christ ChurchThe Church of Ireland is an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion.

The Anglican Communion is an international association of national and regional Anglican Churches in full communion with the Church of England.

The Church of Ireland is Catholic in that its beliefs and practices can be traced back to the early Church.

The Church of Ireland is Reformed in that it does not accept the universal jurisdiction of the Pope.

Up until the 11th century the Church in Ireland was monastic.

Pope Adrian IV issued a Papal Bull, Laudabiliter, which gave Henry II the right to invade Ireland and reform the Church there.

After the Norman invasion there were major reforms in the Irish Church.

Four Synods were convened in the 12th century and the decrees that they issued were in line with Gregorian Reform.

This was the reform insisted upon by Pope Adrian IV.

The Four Synods were held at Cashel, Rathbreasail, St Patrick’s Island, and Kells-Mellifont.

The Synod of Rathbreasil marked the transition of the Irish Church from monastic to one based on parishes and dioceses.

In 1536 the Irish Parliament declared Henry VIII the Supreme Head of the Church on earth.

This meant that he became Head of the Church of Ireland.

In 1541 the Irish Parliament changed the status of the country from Lordship to Kingdom.

Henry VIII assumed the title King of Ireland.

Previous Monarchs had the title King of England and Lord of Ireland.

If Henry VIII assumed this title then it implied that he accepted Ireland as a Papal fief as decreed by the Papal Bull, Laudabiliter.

That was never going to happen.

The dissolution of the monasteries in Ireland was less successful than in England.

Henry’s son, Edward VI, established Protestantism as the State religion.

He only reigned for six years.

Most of his reforms were reversed by his sister, Mary I, as she was a Roman Catholic.

The Elizabethan Religious Settlement of 1559 was set out in two Acts of Parliament.

The Act of Supremacy re-established the Church of England’s, and Ireland’s, independence from Rome.

The Act of Uniformity set out what form the Church of England, and Ireland, would take.

Despite these reforms the Church of Ireland largely served the Pale and the English speaking minority.

The Irish speaking majority remained faithful to the Roman Church.

Following the Act of Union the Church of England was united with the Church of Ireland to form the United Church of England and Ireland.

One Archbishop and three Bishops were given seats in the House of Lords on a rotating basis.

As the established Church, the Church of Ireland was partially funded by Tithes.

Tithes were required to be paid by law by all subjects of the Crown, irrespective of the fact that they may not be a member of the Church.

The Irish Church Act 1869 took effect in 1871 and the Church of Ireland was disestablished.

This Act ended the role of the Church of Ireland as the State Church.

The Church of Ireland also lost its seats in the House of Lords as a result.

State support and Parliament’s role in the governance of the Church was ended and the State took ownership of much of the Church’s property.

Since 1870 the Church of Ireland is self-governing and is led by a General Synod.

The General Synod consists of the House of Bishops (12 members) and the House of Representatives (216 clergy and 432 laity).

The Church of Ireland was the second province of the Anglican Communion to adopt this type of governance.

The Church of Ireland began ordaining women to the priesthood in 1991.

The Church of Ireland has two cathedrals in Dublin.

Christ Church Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Dublin.

St Patrick’s Cathedral is the National Cathedral.

The Archbishop of Dublin is the Primate of Ireland.

The Archbishop of Armagh is the Primate of All Ireland.

The Church of Ireland has 3 orders of ministry.

These are Deacons, Priests, and Bishops.

The Church of Ireland is divided into two Provinces.

These are the province of Armagh and the province of Dublin.

The head of the Province of Armagh is the Archbishop of Armagh.

The head of the Province of Dublin is the Archbishop of Dublin. 

There are 12 dioceses in the Church of Ireland.

There are 5 dioceses in the Province of Dublin.

There are 7 dioceses in the Province of Armagh.

Each diocese is headed by a Bishop.


The dioceses in the Province of Armagh are:

Diocese: Armagh.

Bishop: Most Rev. Alan Harper. Primate of All Ireland.

Diocese: Clogher.

Bishop: Rev. John McDowell.

Diocese: Derry and Raphoe.

Bishop: Rev. Ken Good.

Diocese: Down and Dromore.

Bishop: Rev. Harold Miller.

Diocese: Connor.

Bishop: Rt Rev. Alan Abernethy.

Diocese: Kilmore, Elphin, and Ardagh.

Bishop: Rev. Ken Clarke.

Diocese: Tuam, Killala, and Achonry.

Bishop: Rev. Patrick Rooke.


The dioceses in the Province of Dublin are:

Diocese: Dublin and Glendalough.

Bishop: Most Rev. Dr Michael Jackson. Primate of Ireland.

Diocese: Meath and Kildare.

Bishop: Most Rev Dr Richard Clarke.

Diocese: Cashel, Waterford, Lismore, Ossory, Ferns, and Leighlin.

Bishop: Rt Rev Michael Burrows.

Diocese: Cork, Cloyne, and Ross.

Bishop: Rev. Paul Colton.

Diocese: Limerick, Ardfert, Aghadoe, Killaloe, Kilmacduagh, and Emly.

Bishop: Rev. Trevor Williams.

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