Crossing The Borders: What About the Protestants? (Episode 4)

Crossing The Borders: What About the Protestants? (Episode 4)

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Burt, Co. Donegal, Co. Dublin, Cork, Kilkenny, Lucan




May 1997


24min 18sec







Digitised as part of the UTV Archive Partnership Project (ITV, Northern Ireland Screen and PRONI)


Department for Communities, ITV, Northland Films ltd, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

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Presbyterian Minister John Dunlop crosses to the south of Ireland, examining shifting and multi-faceted notions of identity and nationhood. In his meetings and conversations with a variety of individuals, he seeks to learn about the past, present and future of those who live on the other side of the border divide.

Prof. Joe Lee (Cork Historian), proposes possible reasons behind the fall in the Protestant population of Ireland since Irish independence. He states that despite what many think, numbers really started to fall in 1911 and then continued to fall with WWI and WWII. James Buchanan from Burt, Co. Donegal remembers stories his father told him about the sharp decline in numbers in their congregation after the end of the war. 

Another reason posited for the declining Protestant numbers is intermarriage. In such instances, the Catholic Church required the resulting children to be raised Catholic. This is illustrated in a story told by Sister Geraldine Smith (Irish School of Ecumenics, Dublin). 

Victor and George Harper, from Kilkenny, recount the moment when Ireland became a Republic and Rev. John Faris (Cork) speaks about the effect this historic event had on the local Cork Presbyterian community. 

Despite the falling numbers of Protestants in general, the Methodist Church is still a sizeable congregation and one that has slowly been growing. Dr. Edgar Ritchie (Cork) on why the Methodist Church appeals to people from all backgrounds. Rev. John Woodside from Kilkenny also believes that members from various backgrounds, and other than Protestantism, attend his services. 

The programme concludes with Rev. Dr. Trevor Morrow from Lucan, Co. Dublin explaining the obstacles the Presbyterian Church would face if it was perceived as an embassy of Unionism, or as representing the British presence in Ireland. A perception he repudiates.


Reverend John Dunlop, is a retired former Presbyterian minister. He has been one of the most significant figures in Irish Presbyterianism, from the latter-half of the twentieth century to the present day.


Digitised as part of the UTV Archive Partnership Project (ITV, Northern Ireland Screen and PRONI) 

A Northland Films production for UTV.

Presented by John Dunlop




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