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Word count: 3000
Why did Irish national identity come to be equated and linked with a Catholic religious identity? This article builds upon previous scholarship that explores the relationship between national and religious identity. However, my argument focuses on the effects of British imperialism rather than other approaches emphasized in previous studies. I posit that the best way to understand how Catholicism became so linked with Irish identity is by focusing on the colonial experience. This approach builds upon a tradition of scholarship that emphasizes the social construction of identities1. My analysis recognizes that Irish nationalists needed to construct or invent their identity2. When discovering or creating their identity in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, they emphasized those aspects of and events in history that supported their narrative. According to traditional Irish nationalist interpretations, the British, while intending to create a single dominant religious tradition loyal to the British crown, inadvertently created competing religious traditions in Ireland and a fusion of Catholic and nationalist identities. Hence, this paper focuses primarily on the colonial experience to explain the strength, nature, and evolving relationship of Catholicism and Irish nationalism.