Troubled Geographies: Two centuries of religious division in Ireland
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Identifier AH/F008929/1
abstract The availability of data on religion from the Irish censuses provides us with a unique opportunity to study long-term geographical change in the relationship between religion and society in a country where the impact of religion has been profound. We are fortunate that the ESRC has already funded the digitisation of Irish census data, North and South after Partition, in the form of the Database of Irish Historical Statistics. This existing resource is central to the project as it tells us about the relationship between religion and a broad range of socio-economic indicators. Combining this with contemporary censuses provides enough data to let us analyse the period from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. We will add a GIS to it to allow us to map these data and explore the spatial and spatio-temporal patterns that they contain. \n\nUnder a grant to the ESRC's Research Method's Programme Drs Gregory & Ell developed 'areal interpolation' techniques that allow us to explore change over time using data standardised onto a single set of administrative boundaries. This allows us to explore detailed patterns of spatio-temporal change without resorting to highly aggregate units such as counties. To complement these methodologically innovative approaches we will also use traditional narratives to add detail about specific places and themes. This will be assisted by our recent JISC grant that is digitising a wide range of journals, monographs and other material related to Irish studies, and by two previous AHRC grants that digitised Irish parliamentary papers. These resources provide us with unrivalled access to material on the island of Ireland and its constituent places. Thus, the GIS allows us to identify the broad stories of the changing patterns of religious identity, while the narrative allows us to tell specific stories about specific places in more detail. \n\nWe will be exploring two key topics. The first is concerned with the long-term relationship between religion and identity, community, welfare and prosperity over the island of Ireland from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. Every census since 1861 provides information on religious denominations. We will also include information from the 1834 Commissioners of Public Instruction which provides some information on religion in the period prior to the Famine of the late 1840s. We will use this to explore the changing relationship between religious identity and factors such as age, gender, class, language, migration, health, education, and social and economic welfare. This allows us to research the spatial, demographic and cultural relationships between religious groups and social and economic marginalisation, the development of social capital, social integration, and health outcomes. One particular aspect that we can explore is the extent to which changes in these have been sudden responses to shocks such as the Civil War and Partition, the start of the Troubles, and the Famine, or whether they have been more gradual long-term changes. In addition to Catholics, Church or Ireland, and Presbyterians, we will also explore more minor Protestant denominations, Jews, and the religions of recent immigrant groups. \n\nOur second, related topic is enabled by the availability of grid square data which allows us to explore the connections between religion and society in more detail for Northern Ireland over the period of the Troubles. In addition to the themes described above, we will also explore the relationship between religion, society, and killings during the Troubles, and how these changed from the late 1960s to the early 2000s. \n\nWe will disseminate to an academic audience using journal articles and presentations. There is also a much broader audience with an interest in Ireland including community leaders, journalists, family historians and lay researchers. We will research these through our electronic atlas and a contemporary paper version of this.
Type Project
Label Troubled Geographies: Two centuries of religious division in Ireland
Title Troubled Geographies: Two centuries of religious division in Ireland
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Has co-investigator
Has principal investigator Ian Gregory

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Lancaster University Of
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