In 1922, Catholicism was the predominant Christian faith in Ireland. It comprised 92.6 per cent of the population of the new Irish Free State and 36 per cent of the population of Northern Ireland: Fermanagh, Tyrone, Derry, Armagh, Antrim and Down. In Northern Ireland, only two of the six counties were overwhelmingly Protestant, with the remaining counties 40-59 per cent Catholic. The Catholic Church was critical to the Irish national identity after years of Protestant suppression. Once the partition was imposed, the Catholic Church retained its hegemony in the new Irish Free State through the assertion of the doctrine Ne Temere, where children of mixed Protestant and Catholic marriages were to be brought up as Catholics. The conservatism of rural Ireland and its social conformity also bolstered the power of the Church. In 1922, there were only seven counties in the newly independent Ireland with less than an 89 per cent Catholic majority, while all the counties remained overwhelmingly Catholic. The Protestant population of the Irish Free State was a tiny minority.
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