Irish Catholics Vs Roman Catholics

by | Jul 24, 2023 | Catholic | 0 comments

Irish Catholics refer to the Irish Individuals who are Catholics. Catholicism hit the shores of Ireland in the 5th century when the nation was mostly pagan. However, the efforts of Saint Patrick and other missionaries saw catholicism grow in the country and today, Christianity is the main religion in Ireland. 

Over time, Irish Catholics have gone through various setbacks including political tensions with the protestants, religious discrimination, etc. However, they have stood the test of time and Irish catholicism is one of the leading denominations in Ireland. On the other hand, Roman Catholics refer to the followers of the Roman Catholic rite. The term Roman Catholic is often used to refer to Catholics who follow the Roman rite as a way of distinguishing them from those that follow Eastern or other rites in the catholic church. 

The first obvious difference is geographical location. More importantly, however, Irish catholicism has been largely influenced by Irish culture and customs. On the flip side, Roman Catholicism has remained consistent with the Roman rite and has therefore remained relatively unchanged by different cultures. 

Liturgical Practices and Traditions

Irish Catholic Liturgy

  •  Distinctive Mass Celebrations

Irish Catholic liturgy is characterized by elaborate mass celebrations that portray the integration of Irish culture and traditions. These masses typically contain elements that connect with the Irish people and thereby create a unique experience. Some of these elements include traditional Irish hymns and music as well as Ireland-specific rituals that help to reinforce the close relationship between the Irish and catholicism.

  • Importance of Irish Gaelic in Worship

Using Irish Gaelic is another element that makes Irish Catholics unique. It is a means of preserving the Irish language, promoting cultural identity while at the same time enriching their spiritual experience. It is not uncommon for Irish Catholics to conduct prayers, read scriptures and sing hymns in Irish Gaelic. This approach creates a unity expression of catholicism that is unique to Ireland. 

  • Religious Festivals and Celebrations

Irish catholicism emphasizes some important religious festivals and celebrations which hold a lot of historical and cultural significance in Ireland. For instance, Saint Patrick’s Day is commemorated to remember the patron saint of Ireland. Even though this is a global event, it holds more weight in Ireland as well as among Irish people in the diaspora. There are also several holy sites in Ireland such as Croagh Patrick and Lough Derg where Catholics hold pilgrimages to.  These pilgrimages and other celebrations bring the different communities together and which helps to strengthen their bond with their faith and shared cultural heritage.

Roman Catholic Liturgy:

  • Standard Mass Celebration

Unlike their Irish counterparts, Roman Catholics have distinctive mass celebrations that follow the Roman Catholic liturgy. The order, structure, as well as components of the Mass, are uniform as per the liturgical guides of the Roman Catholic rite. This creates some form of order and unity across all the Roman Catholic worship services globally. 

  • Use of Latin in Traditional Services

Latin has a lot of significance in Roman Catholic liturgy. Granted, liturgical books have been translated and vernacular languages are now commonly used in Masses. However, Latin is still retained for certain settings. For instance, the solemn high masses, papal liturgies, and special occasion masses are typically conducted in Latin. The retention and use of Latin are believed to provide continuity to the ancient traditions of the church.

  •  Liturgical Calendar and Observances

Roman Catholicism follows a global liturgical calendar that marks several religious festivals throughout the year. Some of the important festivals and events include Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, and the feasts of saints. These are celebrated by all Catholics that observe the Roman Catholic rite irrespective of their geographical location or background. This liturgical calendar offers a structured rhythm to the life of the Roman Catholic church. 

Ecclesiastical Structure and Governance:

Irish Catholic Church Hierarchy:

  • The Role of Bishops and Archbishops

Bishops and Archbishops play a vital leadership role in the Irish catholic church. Bishops are the highest-ranking ordained ministers and they are in charge of dioceses. A diocese is a geographical area that has several catholic churches under it. A bishop ensures that congregations are adhering to the teachings and doctrine of the church and they also help in the administration of sacraments within their respective diocese. An Archbishop is higher than a bishop and he therefore is in charge of several dioceses which make an archdiocese. Archbishops offer guidance and support to other bishops in the archdiocese. 

  • Influence of Monasticism:

Monasticism refers to the practice of setting yourself apart to live a life of contemplation, prayer, and community in a monastery. Monasticism has traditionally held significant influence in the Irish Catholic Church. Irish monasteries were established in the early centuries and they became important centers of scholarship, prayer, and religious devotion. Irish monks and nuns were very instrumental in preserving ancient texts as well as spreading the gospel. Granted, the influence of monasticism on Irish catholicism has evolved over time but its influence on Irish catholicism, spirituality, and education remains unparalleled. 

Roman Catholic Church Hierarchy:

  • The Pope 

The pope, who is situated at the Vatican, is the ultimate spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic church. Even though he is referred to as the Bishop of Rome, his authority extends far beyond Rome as he is considered the vicar of Christ on earth. 

  • Cardinals and Bishops:

A cardinal is a senior prelate who is appointed by the Pope. Cardinals help the pope in governing the church. The College of Cardinals plays a crucial role in electing a new pope when the current one retires or dies. Bishops on the other hand oversee dioceses by offering spiritual counsel as well as admisntering of sacraments.  The combination of cardinals and bishops forms the hierarchy of Church leadership that supports the Pope’s guidance and decisions.


In conclusion, Roman Catholics and Irish Catholics have a common faith in catholicism. However, they differ in the sense that Irish Catholics have been greatly influenced by the culture of Ireland and have incorporated several Irish cultures that make the faith unique to Ireland. Roman Catholicism on the hand upholds the dictates of the Roman rite which makes it uniform across the different geographical locations. 

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About: Ronie

Ronnie Amaya has been actively involved in ministry since his high school and university days where he served as a Christian union leader. After graduation, he worked as an itinerary minister preaching in Schools, Universities, Street Evangelizations, and Churches. In 2018, he led a team in planting a new church in Nairobi, Kenya where he is currently serving as the lead pastor.
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Ronnie Amaya has been actively involved in ministry since his high school and university days where he served as a Christian union leader. After graduation, he worked as an itinerary minister preaching in Schools, Universities, Street Evangelizations, and Churches. In 2018, he led a team in planting a new church in Nairobi, Kenya where he is currently serving as the lead pastor.

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