More than a third of Irish people plan to attend Mass this Christmas, when Covid-19 restrictions are lifted according to new research.
In news that will bring cheer to priests and parishioners alike, almost a quarter of 18-24-year olds say they expect to attend a religious ceremony over Christmas while for older people this rises to almost a half, meaning fears that some would stay away due to coronavirus concerns may be unfounded.
The polling – carried out by Amarach Research on behalf of The Iona Institute – shows that 36% of Irish adults plan to attend a church service over Christmas. The figure is 22% among the 18-24-year olds and rises to 47% among the over 55s.
The poll of 1,000 adults, conducted earlier this month also found that 26% of Catholics were attending Mass regularly before the pandemic began. Almost half (47%) of this group had returned to regular attendance before public worship was stopped again on October 7. This was a rise from the 36% recorded in August indicating that people were becoming more confident that it was safe to attend religious services.
Some 54% of Catholics who were attending Mass regularly before the start of the pandemic in March say that would go back to Mass today if this was permitted while more than a quarter (26%) are tuning into religious services during the second lockdown. This is identical to the figure in the first lockdown.
Commenting on the findings, David Quinn of The Iona Institute said: “Churches will be encouraged that so many people would like to attend Mass and other religious services over the Christmas period.
“As usual it is considerably higher than during the rest of the year, even if it will be much less than a normal Christmas because of the pandemic,” Mr Quinn said.