From Pontius to Pilates: Irish Catholic Devotion and the Spiritual Marketplace

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The rapid secularization of Ireland, accelerated by recent affluence and scandal, has led to the vanishing of Devotional Revolution-styled Catholicism, leaving a religious vacuum. The boom in New Age spirituality, both outside and inside the church, can be understood as a response to this post-Catholic crisis. If for over a century the central source of the Irish self was Catholic self-denial, new forms of “Irishness” and selfhood are now emerging, in a very different religious idiom. Two major features of the new spiritualism—the belief in an authentic core of self, and the equation of religion with relaxation—have found a welcome home in Ireland, no stranger to quests for authentic identity or to the value of the holiday industry. The decline in conventional Catholic practice has been matched by an exponential rise in spiritual pilgrimage tourism, which combines the language of self-discovery with that of discovering Ireland.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-272
Number of pages19
JournalBoundary 2: An International Journal of Literature and Culture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Feb 2018


  • New Age
  • Celtic spirituality
  • Religion
  • Pilgrimage
  • Irish Catholicism


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