While 63% of respondents agree that they attend Mass on a weekly basis, there has been a sharp decline in the number of people who strongly agree that they attend mass every week, from 56% in 2013 to 43% in 2015.
A total of 23% of respondents said that they did not attend Mass regularly. As for those who strongly disagreed when asked if they attended Mass weekly, the figure is now 14% compared with 9% in 2013.
Women in farming households are also more likely to be regular Mass-goers than men — 69% of women respondents said they go every week compared with 62% of men questioned.
There is also a pronounced sliding scale of Mass attendance from the eldest to the youngest. So, while 78% of those aged 65 and over attend Mass weekly, this falls to 74% for those aged 55 to 64 years, while 67% of those aged 45 to 54 attend weekly.
In the 35 to 44 age group, 55% attend Mass every week, and as for those aged 34 and under, just 44% agreed that they go to Mass every week.
Mass attendance appears to have a bearing on social attitudes — as evidenced in some of the findings from the poll to be disclosed later in the week.
ICMSA president John Comer said: “We would see no reason to distinguish farmers from the general population [on this issue] — certainly the wider rural population.
“There was an element of truth in the old classification of farmers as more conservative than other elements of the population, with the implications for religious observance that entailed. But that might be over-stated and it would seem that the socio-cultural shifts evident everywhere in our society are now apparent within the farming community also.
“It’s worth noting the phenomenon of country parishes without any resident priest or having to ‘pool’ clergy with neighbouring parishes might be contributing to where Mass is not the custom it so recently was.”
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