Dissolving the ‘Sacred Union’? The disestablishment of the church in Ireland

Stewart J. Brown*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In 1869, Parliament disestablished the Church of Ireland, dissolving what Benjamin Disraeli called the ‘sacred union’ of church and state in Ireland. Disestablishment involved fundamental issues – the identity and purpose of the established church, the religious nature of the state, the morality of state appropriation of church property for secular uses, and the union of Ireland and Britain – and debate was carried on at a high intellectual level. With disestablishment, the Church of Ireland lost much of its property, but it recovered, now as an independent Episcopal church with a renewed mission. The idea of the United Kingdom as a semi-confessional Protestant state, however, was dealt a serious blow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-160
Number of pages16
JournalBulletin of the John Rylands Library
Issue number1
Early online date10 May 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 May 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Act of Union
  • church
  • disestablishment
  • state
  • United Church of England and Ireland


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