8 fun facts about the LDS Church in Ireland

(Photo by Kenneth Allen, via Wikimedia Commons.)

(Photo by Kenneth Allen, via Wikimedia Commons.)

In March, more than at any other time of year, Ireland basks in the spotlight. St. Patrick’s Day is time to keep a green shirt handy, dust off the green food coloring for festive treats, and maybe learn a thing or two about the Church’s history in the largely Catholic country. Here are a few things you might like to know as you celebrate Ireland’s time in the limelight.

1. The first missionaries arrived in 1840

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was only 10 years old when the first missionaries arrived in what is now Northern Ireland. However, it was another 10 years (in 1850) before missionaries arrived in Dublin, Ireland’s capital city. Ireland’s first branch was established in Dublin in 1850 by missionary John Sunderland.

2. An early Irish convert became an apostle

Charles A. Callis was born in Dublin in 1865. He and his family joined the Church after meeting missionaries in Liverpool, England, then emigrated to the United States in 1875 and settled Utah’s Davis County. He served several missions and was ordained an apostle in 1933 by Heber J. Grant.

3. No branches of the Church existed in Ireland from 1863 to 1900

By 1863, most Irish converts had either lost interest or emigrated to the United States to join the Saints in Salt Lake City. Because of this, the existing branches were dissolved. A branch in Dublin was organized in 1900, made up mostly of German immigrants.

4. One of Ireland’s first missionaries was a professional soccer player

Fred Horlacher, who was a Latter-day Saint descended from the German immigrants who joined the Church earlier, was an international soccer player prior to his missionary service. He and Harold B. Mogerley were called to serve missions in 1936. They were Ireland’s first missionaries to serve outside the country.

5. Steven R. Covey was Ireland’s first mission president

The Irish Mission was formed on July 8, 1962, with Steven R. Covey—popular educator, author and businessman—as president. Prior to this organization, Ireland was part of the Scottish-Irish Mission for about one year.

President and Sister Covey presented Eamon de Valera, Ireland’s president, with several Church books in December 1964. Two branches were also formed in Ireland that year.

6. Neal A. Maxwell dedicated Ireland for the preaching of the gospel

Though missionary work had already been happening in Ireland for 24 years, Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve dedicated Ireland for the preaching of the gospel on Oct. 23, 1985. The dedication took place in County Down, Northern Ireland. A second district in Ireland was created less than a month later.

7. Ireland has been in two temple districts during its history

Ireland was assigned to the London England Temple district upon the temple’s completion in 1958. It was then assigned to the Preston England Temple district upon its completion in 1998.

8. The Ireland mission is combined again with Scotland

The first missionaries were called to Ireland in 1961 as part of the Scottish-Irish Mission. Though Ireland was its own mission for several years, the mission in Ireland was again combined with the one in Scotland to form the Scotland/Ireland Mission in 2010. Mission headquarters are in Edinburgh.

Source: “Ireland,” Deseret News 2013 Church Almanac, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 500-501.


Breanna Olaveson worked in the magazine industry before taking her writing from full-time to nap time with the birth of her first daughter. Her work has appeared in the Ensign, Liahona and New Era magazines, as well as Utah Valley Magazine, Utah Valley BusinessQ, Utah Valley Bride and the Provo Daily Herald. She lives in Utah county with her husband and three children. She blogs at www.breannaolaveson.com.

One Comment

  1. AvatarJohn Connolly Reply

    The dedication of Ireland in 1985 was, at the article states, carried out in County Down. Specifically, it was at Loughbrickland; the recent for this choice of venue was that the first baptism of this dispensation in Ireland took place there in the summer of 1840. John Taylor, later President of the Church, performed the ordinance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *