History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Ireland since 1840
Brigham Young University
This thesis pertains to the efforts of the Mormons in establishing their Church among the Irish and is arranged to give a chronological account of activities there. A brief background of the establishment of Christianity in Ireland and a knowledge of numerous conflicts between Catholics and Protestants helps to understand the complex religious interaction occurring at the time Mormonism was introduced in that country. The difficulties encountered by the first Mormon missionaries in Ireland suggest reasons why the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did not expand as rapidly as it did elsewhere in Britain and other European countries.
Shortly after the missionaries arrived in 1840, a famine caused many Irish to emigrate to England and Scotland where some became Mormon converts. Many of the converted Irish emigrated to America, and several of them became prominent Irish Mormon Pioneers.
Mormon history in Ireland can be divided into three major campaigns. The first was from 1840 to 1849; the second from 1850 to 1867; and the third and permanent campaign began 1884 and has continued to the present (1968). Each campaign is discussed in the thesis, and one chapter is devoted entirely to Irish opposition to Mormonism. Those who desired that the new religious doctrine not be taught in Ireland employed a variety of means to try and achieve their objective.
After the turn of the century, the image of the Mormon Church in Ireland gradually changed from negative to positive due to many factors. Foremost was the fact that the worldwide image of the Church experienced a similar change. During the twentieth century there was a slow though gradual increase in membership among the Irish until World War II when Mormon missionaries were withdrawn. Due to their absence, a sharp decrease in activity occurred, but after their return in 1946, conversions and the membership both have steadily increased.
Until 1962, missionary work in Ireland had been supervised from England to Scotland, but in that year Church leaders organized a separate Irish Mission. Within a year the number of missionaries increased from the usual eight or ten to well over 150. Consequently, the Church membership rose from about 600 to nearly 3700 by 1967, and four new chapels have been built during the same period to accommodate the increased membership. The thesis includes statements of mission presidents describing the significance of recent growth.
The concluding chapter indicates that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Ireland ranks eleventh among sixty-seven religious denominations according to the number of members. Other statistics point to factors which could influence Church growth. The appendices contain a statistical report of the year by year conversions and membership of the Church in Ireland. Also included are over one thousand names of Mormon missionaries who have served in Ireland since the work commenced there.