Ireland in 1850 was full of empty potato fields and people that were closer to death than their next meal. The country was in the throes of one of the worst famines in history. The Irish Potato Famine decreased the population of Ireland by 20-25% between 1845 and 1851. Despite the bleak time in the country's history, missionaries of different religions continued to flock to Ireland in hopes of converting the dwindling population. Missionaries were almost always met with resistance from both the largely Catholic population and the minority Protestant population. These denominations had a long history of conflict with one another and did not want to lose followers to foreign missionaries. Religion was also deeply rooted in the culture and daily lives of the Irish people, so conversion was no easy task. It often meant losing family, friends, neighbors, and the respect of the community. These were the type of obstacles Mormon missionaries faced when they arrived in Ireland during the late 1830s. Despite the persistence of these missionaries, they were ultimately unsuccessful in converting the Irish population to the Mormon church. This paper argues that the low conversion rates among the Irish can be attributed to deep social ties to the Catholic Church, the failure to offer spiritual or material aid during the recent potato famine, and the emigration of converts to the United States.
Date of Publication or Presentation
Undergraduate Research Project
College or School
Weber, Hadleigh F., "The Failure of Religious Conversion: Mormon Missionaries in Ireland between 1850 and 1870" (2022). Student Research Projects. 29.