Over the course of the pandemic, the Iona Institute has been commissioning opinion polls to ascertain what has happened to religious practice when public worship is not permitted, and how many people returned to church when it was permitted albeit with limits on numbers who can attend.
Similar research has been conducted in Northern Ireland, and Gladys Ganiel of Queen’s University Belfast, has been analysing the results. She has also been looking at numbers watching church services on TV and online.
In a new blog for RTE, she reports that “on the First Sunday in Advent, when churches were closed for worship, 93,800 tuned in for mass on RTÉ, nearly 20% of the available audience share.”
She says that at present the same number are tuning into daily Mass on RTE as were watching the Sunday TV Mass before the pandemic, that is 30,000 to 40,000 people each time.
She quotes results from the various Iona-commissioned polls showing, for example, that over a quarter of people have been tuning into religious services ever since the first lockdown in March.
Dr Daniel mentions that the June novena at Belfast’s Clonard Monastery attracted more than 50,000 viewers per day.
She concludes: “Despite the challenges [posed by Covid-19], Ireland’s Churches have adapted creatively, giving people a variety of online and in-person opportunities to ‘like and share’ their Christmas celebrations.”
You can read her blog here.