Civil marriages overtake Catholic marriages for the first time

Census figures released today show yet again that Ireland is no longer a Catholic country. Our laws must catch up with this reality, and stop giving privilege to the Catholic Church.

For the first time ever, in 2020, there were more Civil marriages than Catholic marriages in Ireland. 42.1% of marriages were Civil, compared to 34.6% that were Catholic.

Yet most of the children of these couples will have to attend a state-funded school run by the Catholic Church, where they will be taught Catholic doctrine about marriage, including that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

Marriages by all traditional Churches, including Christian and others, are now an overall minority at 43.4%. This includes 42.1% Catholic, 1.2% Church of Ireland, and 7.6% other religions.

Of the other 14.3% of marriages, 7.8% were humanist and 6.7% were spiritualist. Legally, humanist marriages are counted as secular while spiritualist marriages are counted as religious.


Atheist Ireland


  1. Avatar
    Eoin May 09, 2021

    2020 was certainly not a normal year, but the increase in non-religious marriages was in line with the trend of recent years. Many people who have a spiritualist marriage are non-religious – HSE has restrictions on when and where you can have a civil marriage with a HSE celebrant, and there is a shortage of humanist celebrants. It’s possible to have a spiritual marriage ceremony with no mention of religion at all. We’re looking at over 50% non-religious marriages anyway, even if counting all spiritualist ceremonies as religious.

    So… where are the non-church schools for the kids resulting from these non-church marriages….?

    • Avatar
      Eoin May 09, 2021

      Back in 2004 when I proposed to my non-religious future wife (she didn’t call herself an atheist then, she does now – battle-hardened by our education system and Repeal the 8th!) she was not aware that civil marriages even existed. Then her friend got married in a civil marriage and it was like – poof – yes it’s possible to go through all of life’s events in a manner of your own choosing and with no involvement of any church. It was unusual then, it’s not unusual now. Sign of the times and all for the good. Leave the religous stuff to those who actually believe in it. So, we are back to schools again…