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The average daily number in receipt of relief of all kinds (except

outdoor relief) during the same years was as follows: 1902, 41,163; 1903, 43,600; 1904, 43,721; 1905, 43,911. The percentage of

indoor paupers to the estimated population in 1905 was 1.00.

Congested Districts Board.—This body was constituted by the Purchase of Land Act 1891, and is composed of the chief secretary, a member of the Land Commission and five other members. A considerable sum of money was placed at its disposal for carrying out the objects for which it was created. It was provided that where more than 20% of the population of a county lived in electoral divisions of which the total rateable value, when divided by the number of the population, gave a sum of less than £1, 10s. for each individual, these divisions should, for the purposes of the act, form a separate county, called a congested districts county, and should be subject to the operations of the board. In order to improve the condition of affairs in congested districts, the board was empowered (1) to amalgamate small holdings either by directly aiding migration or emigration of occupiers, or by recommending the Land Commission to facilitate amalgamation, and (2) generally to aid and develop out of its resources agriculture, forestry, the breeding of live-stock, weaving, spinning, fishing and any other suitable industries. Further provisions regulating the operations of funds of the board were enacted in 1893, 1896, 1899 and 1903; and by its constituting act the Department of Agriculture was empowered to exercise, at the request of the board, any of its powers and duties in congested districts.

Religion.—The great majority of the Irish people belong to the Roman Catholic Church. In 1891 the Roman Catholics numbered 3,547,307 or 75% of the total population, and in 1901 they numbered 3,308,661 or 74%. The adherents of the Church of Ireland come next in number (581,089 in 1901 or 13% of the population), then the Presbyterians (443,276 in 1901 or 10% of the population), the only other denomination with a considerable number of members being the Methodists (62,006 in 1901). As the result of emigration, which drains the Roman Catholic portion of the population more than any other, the Roman Catholics show a larger proportional decline in numbers than the Protestants; for example, between 1891 and 1901 the Roman Catholics decreased by over 6%, the Church of Ireland by a little over 3%, the Presbyterians by less than 1%, while the Methodists actually increased by some 11%. The only counties in which the Protestant religion predominates are Antrim, Down, Armagh and Londonderry.

The Roman Catholic Church is governed in Ireland by 4 archbishops,

whose sees are in Armagh, Dublin, Cashel and Tuam, and 23 bishops, all nominated by the pope. The episcopal emoluments arise from the mensal parishes, the incumbency of which is retained by the bishops, from licences and from an annual contribution, varying in amount, paid by the clergy of the diocese. The clergy are supported by fees and the voluntary contributions of their flocks. At the census of 1901 there were 1084 parishes, and the clergy numbered 3711. In addition to the secular clergy there are several communities of regular priests scattered over the country, ministering in their own churches but without parochial jurisdiction. There are also numerous monasteries and convents, a large number of which are devoted to educational purposes. The great majority of the secular clergy are educated at Maynooth College (see below).

The Protestants of Ireland belong mainly to the Church of Ireland (episcopalian) and the Presbyterian Church. (For the former see

Ireland, Church of).
The Presbyterian Church, whose adherents are found principally

in Ulster and are the descendants of Scotch settlers, was originally formed in the middle of the 17th century, and in 1840 a reunion took place of the two divisions into which the Church had formerly separated. The governing body is the General Assembly, consisting of ministers and laymen. In 1906 there were 569 congregations, arranged under 36 presbyteries, with 647 ministers. The ministers are supported by a sustentation fund formed of voluntary contributions, the rents of seats and pews, and the proceeds of the commutation of the Regium Donum made by the commissioners under the Irish Church Act 1869. Two colleges are connected with the denomination, the General Assembly’s College, Belfast, and the Magee College, Londonderry. In 1881 the faculty of the Belfast College and the theological professors of the Magee College were incorporated and constituted as a faculty with the power of granting degrees in divinity.

The Methodist Church in Ireland was formed in 1878 by the Union of the Wesleyan with the Primitive Wesleyan Methodists. The number of ministers is over 250.

Education.—The following table shows that the proportion per cent of the total population of five years old and upwards able to

read and write has been steadily rising since 1861:—
  Proportion per cent.

 1861.   1871.   1881.   1891.   1901. 

 Read and write 41 49 59 71 79
 Read only 20 17 16 11  7
 Neither read nor write  39 33 25 18 14
Further details on the same subject, according to provinces and religious denominations in 1901, are subjoined:—
   Leinster.   Munster.   Ulster.   Connaught. 

 Roman Catholics—        
Read and write 80 80 70 72
Read only  7  5 11  7
Neither read nor write 13 15 19 21
 Protestant Episcopalians—         
Read and write 95 95 81 93
Read only  1  2  9  3
Neither read nor write  4  3 10  4
Read and write 97 96 88 95
Read only  1  2  7  3
Neither read nor write  2  2  5  2
Read and write 97 97 90 96
Read only  1  1  5  2
Neither read nor write  2  2  5  2
Read and write 91 91 90 94
Read only  2  2  6  1
Neither read nor write  7  7  4  5
Read and write 83 81 79 72
Read only  6  5  9  7
Neither read nor write  11 14 12 21
Language.—The number of persons who speak Irish only continues

to decrease. In 1881 they numbered 64,167; in 1891, 38,192; and in 1901, 20,953. If to those who spoke Irish only are added the persons who could speak both Irish and English, the total number who could speak Irish in 1901 was 641,142 or about 14% of the population. The purely Irish-speaking population is to be found principally in the province of Connaught, where in 1901 they numbered over 12,000. The efforts of the Gaelic League, founded to encourage the study of Gaelic literature and the Irish language, produced results seen in the census returns for 1901, which showed that the pupils learning Irish had very largely increased

as compared with 1891.

The university of Dublin (q.v.), which is for practical purposes identical with Trinity College, Dublin, was incorporated in 1591. The government is in the hands of a board consisting of the provost and the senior fellows, assisted by Universities and colleges. a council in the election of professors and in the regulation of studies. The council is composed of the provost (and, in his absence, the vice-provost) and elected members. There is also a senate, composed of the chancellor or vice-chancellor and all doctors and masters who have kept their names on the books of Trinity College. Religious tests were abolished in 1873, and the university is now open to all; but, as a matter of fact, the vast majority of the students, even since the abolition of tests, have always belonged to the Church of Ireland, and the divinity school is purely Protestant.

In pursuance of the University Education (Ireland) Act 1879, the Queen’s University in Ireland was superseded in 1882 by the Royal University of Ireland, it being provided that the graduates and students of the former should have similar rank in the new university. The government of the Royal University was vested in a senate consisting of a chancellor and senators, with power to grant all such degrees as could be conferred by any university in the United Kingdom, except in theology. Female students had exactly the same rights as male students. The university was simply an examining body, no residence in any college nor attendance at lectures being obligatory. All