Ulster Irish in United Kingdom

Ulster Irish
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People Name: Ulster Irish
Country: United Kingdom
10/40 Window: No
Population: 932,000
World Population: 932,000
Primary Language: English
Primary Religion: Christianity
Christian Adherents: 92.00 %
Evangelicals: 14.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Anglo-Celt
Affinity Bloc: Eurasian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Ulster-Irish people comprise residents of Northern Ireland, mainly from a Protestant background, who generally identify as Northern Irish or British rather than Irish. They are mainly descended from English and Scottish settlers who moved to Ireland during the Plantation of Ulster, in the 17th Century.

The settlers’ religious affiliation was Protestant and they lived alongside the existing Roman Catholic Irish population in Ulster. A strong British and Protestant identity was subsequently affirmed through the establishment of the United Kingdom (in 1801) and the development of the British Empire. Ulster’s economy was also influenced by the Industrial Revolution and therefore developed in a more industrialized way than the rest of Ireland.

Northern Ireland was formed when the island of Ireland was partitioned in the early 1920s and six counties of Ulster remained within the United Kingdom. The region was governed by a Protestant and unionist administration until the late 1960s, when an intense and prolonged 30-year conflict – known as the Troubles – began. National identity in Northern Ireland is a contested issue but relationships have improved through a successful peace process and the formation of a cross-community government.

What Are Their Lives Like?

English is the everyday language. Family life is important and brothers and sisters are close, often living nearby. A relatively large number of people in Northern Ireland continue to live in rural areas and are involved in agriculture; its economy is mainly comprised of government services and relatively small businesses, and tourism is a major source of income. Rugby and soccer are popular sports, and Northern Irish people – from both main communities – are well-known for their hospitality and creativity.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Christianity was established in Ireland by Patrick in the 5th Century AD; most Ulster-Irish people identify as Protestant although many are nominal in their faith and have not yet encountered Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Many are evangelical and share in a long Christian heritage marked by Patrick’s mission to Ireland, the Reformation, and the Ulster Revival of 1869 which strongly influenced the theology of most Protestant denominations in the region.

All towns have a range of churches from several Protestant perspectives; churches dedicate significant resources to evangelism and holiday Bible clubs for children and young people are a regular part of church life, especially in rural areas. Support for global mission is strong – a large number of evangelical missionaries from Northern Ireland have served, and continue to serve, around the world.

The cities of Belfast and Derry/Londonderry are notably more secular and, throughout the region, a Protestant identity is often viewed as interchangeable with a unionist political identity. There remains a considerable need for the building (and rebuilding) of good relationships between Protestant and Catholic communities, and across the island of Ireland – many churches and individual Christians seek to make a difference in this area.

What Are Their Needs?

There is a history of tension between Protestant and Roman Catholic communities in Northern Ireland, which can be greater in areas affected by the recent Troubles, although considerable progress has been made in reconciliation since the 1990s.

Many Ulster-Irish people have a good understanding of Christian beliefs through their neighbours, their upbringing, or the influence of churches in the education system. However, church attendance and participation has decreased in recent decades.

Religious tradition is a significant influence with individuals and families often identifying with their denomination – or Protestantism in general – rather than expressing personal faith in Jesus. As with the UK and Ireland in general, society is becoming more secular and there is a great need for people to find their real purpose and direction in life, through Jesus.

Prayer Points

Scripture Prayers for the Ulster-Irish in UK
Ask for continued commitment to Jesus and the gospel by believers.
Pray that nominal and secular Protestants will give their lives to Jesus Christ.
Pray for continued political and economic stability.
Pray for wisdom as Christians navigate through change in society.

Text Source:   Peter Cheney