Struggle with church continues after emigrants leave Ireland


“We tend to focus on things that are financially productive,” Lydon said. “Language doesn’t fit under that perception. It’s more of an irritation.”

So the chances of emigrants recapturing their Catholic faith diminish as they head to countries such as America, Australia or Canada. In a sign of their secularization, those developed, Westernized countries have twice the proportion of atheists as some countries in Latin America or Asia, according to a 2009 compilation of data by Pitzer College professor Phil Zuckerman.

To add on, the younger Irish generation plans a comeback. Kirby said recent emigrants see emigration as a temporary solution because they tend to be more skilled. As a result, they are poised to further secularize Irish culture upon their return.

“People who see a bit of the world for a couple of years and see some diversity, they come back and don't want to have every little thing in life center around the church,” Corr said.

Corr was at Sonny McLean's, an Irish pub in Santa Monica, Calif. on a recent Friday night to hear an Irish band touring Southern California. Chatting with members of the band only deepened his urge to return to Ireland once his family's farming business is able to sustain the whole family.

“It'd be nice,” he said.