There was a time when it was not uncommon to see priests from Ireland serving American parishes, or parishes around the world, for that matter. The country produced so many vocations that they had to send them abroad as missionaries. Unfortunately, even though it took longer in Ireland, they appear to have caught up with the rest of Europe in the decline of faith.
The New York Times reports that only 8 priests were ordained for all of Ireland last year compared to 193 in 1990. Part of the problem is blamed on the Scandal, which struck particularly hard. But another element is the change in Irish society. As little as 50 years ago, many Irish lived without phone service or indoor plumbing or regular electrical service. It was still mainly an agrarian society. But much of that has changed. With the wealth of the Celtic Tiger economy and so many people, especially young people, moving into cities, many of the same secularizing influences that have affected the rest of the world have affected Ireland.