Farmers are bucking the national trend of falling Mass attendances, with seven out of 10 saying they go to Mass every week — more than twice the national average.
The Irish Examiner/ICMSA survey found, although there is considerable division on the continuing influence of the Catholic Church, 71% farmers still attend Mass every week.
The survey clearly highlights farmers as being far more religious than much of the rest of the population, where weekly Mass attendances are far lower.
A national poll Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI last year found just 34% of Catholics in Ireland go to Mass every week. An Amárach conducted for the Association of Catholic Priests put weekly Mass attendance marginally higher at 35%.
The farming survey found Mass going was strongest among over 65s, where 89% said they still attend Mass every week. Those who attended the least were in the under 35 age bracket at 47%. It is worth noting that this is still well above the national average of 34%.
Strongest Mass attendance was in Cappamore in Limerick where 91% of farmers surveyed said they attended weekly. This contrasted starkly with Tinahealy in Wicklow where just 55% said they were regular Mass-goers — the lowest of any regions surveyed, but still well in excess of the national average.
The most religious farmers in terms of political affiliation are Independent/Others voters, of whom 85% said they go to Mass every week.
They were followed by Fine Gael voters at 79%, Labour at 78% and Fianna Fáil voters at 74%. Sinn Féin voters were by far the least religious at just 43% stating that they attend Mass weekly.
Despite being such strong Mass-goers, farmers are somewhat divided on whether or not the Catholic Church remains a dominant force in Ireland.
Just over half agreed that it was, but 37% disagreed.
Interestingly, 62% of women felt the Church still played a dominant role in Irish life compared to 49% of men. Farmers over the age of 65 also were also more likely to agree that the Church still held a dominant position in society.
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