Features

Feature | 40 years of Social Research

title
2010 marks forty years since the foundation of the research office of the Bishops’ Conference. To celebrate this milestone, the Council for Research & Development has published online highlights of its social research projects over the years.


Introduction

In this interview, Archbishop Dermot Clifford, Chair of the Council for Research and Development, discusses how social research supports the mission of the Church and the importance of research in the renewal of the Church in Ireland:

[videoplayer]interview_archbishop_clifford_191010.flv|Get Online|archbishop_clifford_research_still.jpg[/videoplayer]


In the following video interview, Eoin O’Mahony, Social Researcher with the Bishops’ Council for Research & Development, talks about the current work of the Council, its plans for the future, and the resource that it has produced to celebrate 40 years of research in the Church:

[videoplayer]interview_eoin_o_mahony_191010.flv|Get Online|eoin_omahony_research_still.jpg[/videoplayer]

New resource

Highlights of social research projects commissioned by the Bishops’ Conference. These projects have contibuted to the mission of the Catholic Church and the development of social science in Ireland.

research_image_2In 1970, the Irish Episcopal Conference set up a special unit within the Catholic Communications Institute. The purpose of this unit was to research and report on every aspect of religion in Ireland with a view to pastoral planning. At the time, Ireland was going through some significant social and cultural changes and the Conference wished to “monitor the changes…which impinge on religious belief and practice” (Ten Years of Research and Development). It would be 1974 before the Council’s work became more publicly-known, following the publication of Religious Practice in Ireland, Ireland’s first social scientific survey of Catholic practice. In the 1970s, the Council for Research & Development became known for producing quality social scientific research, although as some of the contributors here recall, not always informing pastoral planning.

research_image_4This resource is an attempt to show some of the work that has been completed by the researchers of the Council for Research & Development since that time. Below are contributions from some past researchers who recall the efforts made to complete their projects and place their work in a larger context. Their contributions are placed alongside the projects they worked on and, below these, other notable reports are listed. These projects have been made available here for the first time, as PDFs. In the coming months, and leading up to 2013, the Council for Research & Development will be marking four decades of research in the Catholic Church in Ireland. If there are particular projects that interest you and would like to know more about them, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Eoin O’Mahony
Social Researcher with the Bishops’ Council for Research & Development
eoin.omahony@iecon.ie

Contributions from past researchers

Anne Hanley, member of the Council for Research & Development of the Irish Bishops’ Conference, writes about ‘The Work of the Council for Research and Development in the 1990s’

The years that I served as Director of the Council for Research and Development were years in which the nature of Irish society – and the work of the Council – underwent significant changes. Indeed, it is arguable that we are only now beginning to understand the significance of the transformation that Ireland underwent in the 1990s. More …


Brian Conway, Lecturer at the Department of Sociology, NUI Maynooth and a member of the Council for Research & Development of the Irish Bishops’ Conference, offers ‘Some Reflections on Membership of the Council for Research and Development’

My involvement in the work of the Council for Research and Development goes back to 2006. As a result of my research interests in the sociology of religion and my training as a sociologist at the University of Notre Dame, I felt that I could be of some service to the church’s research body. More …


research_image_1Tom Inglis, Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology, UCD, remembers his time in the Research & Development Office of the Irish Bishops’ Conference

There were times during the fieldwork for the national survey of religious beliefs, practices and attitudes in 1973/74 that I thought it was going to fall apart. We were relatively young, quite inexperienced team of researchers. I was 22 years old. I had completed my BSocSc the previous Autumn. More …


Máire Nic Ghiolla Phádraig, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Sociology, UCD, writes about her time directing the first national survey of religion in Ireland

This study was labelled the first national survey of religion in Ireland and has been used as a baseline for subsequent studies. The then Research and Development Unit (R&D) had decided that such a study was needed and approached Fr. Donal O’Donohue to direct the study. Fr. O’Donohue was a priest of the Dublin archdiocese who had completed his MA in Sociology at Loyola and had lectured in UCD (where he tutored my social survey methods workshop). He was then Director of the Dublin Institute for Adult Education and it was on returning from a conference in Sligo through the North that he was killed by a British Army vehicle. This was a huge loss to Irish Sociology and it was a great privilege for me (then Research Officer with R&D) to be allowed to take on the planning and direction of the study in his place. More …

Other notable reports

  • A Survey of Senior Students’ Attitudes Towards Religion, Morality and Education by Anne Breslin SSL and John Weafer, Council for Research and Development, St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, 1982. Download pdf … ( warning: large file)

  • The Changing Direction of Irish Seminaries, a Survey Report by Liam Ryan, Professor of Sociology, St Patrick’s College, Maynooth. Research conducted by the Research and Dvelopment Unit of the Catholic Communications Insitute of Ireland. Download pdf … ( warning: large file)

  • Irish Catholic Clergy and Religious, 1970 – 1981, Report compiled by John Weafer and Anne Breslin, Council for Research and Development, 1983. Download pdf … ( warning: large file)

  • Parish Missions, Parish Retreats and Priests’ Retreats, a Report on the Survey of Attitudes of Irish Diocesan Clergy, 1972. Research conducted by the Research and Dvelopment Unit of the Catholic Communications Insitute of Ireland. Download pdf … ( warning: large file)

  • Religious Belief, Practice and Moral Attitudes, a comparison of two surveys: 1974-1984, Council for Research and Development. Download pdf … (warning: large file)

  • Religious Practice and Attitudes in Ireland, Report of a Survey fo Religious Attitudes and Practice and Related Issues in the Republic of Ireland, 1988-1989, by Mícheál MacGréil, Survey and Research Unit, Department of Social Studies, St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, 1991. Download pdf … (warning: large file)

  • Ten Years of Research and Development, 1971-1980, Council for Research and Development, 1981. Download pdf … (warning: large file)

  • The Sunday Homily, a National Survey, Council for Research and Dvelopment, 1988. Download pdf … (warning: large file)

  • Vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life, Attitudes of Students and Parents in the Diocese of Killaloe, Council for Research and Development, St Patrick’s College, Maynooth. Download pdf … (warning: large file)


Related links and useful information

Feature 6 November 2008 | Researching in the Church in Ireland …

More about the Council for Research & Development …

The IEC provides external links as convenience to our users. The appearance of external links does not constitute endorsement by IEC of the information, products or services contained therein.