Most Offaly people still adhere to the longstanding Catholic tradition of not eating meat on Ash Wednesday. That is according to our poll, taken yesterday, which asked you that very question: Do you avoid eating meat on Ash Wednesday?
371 of you took part in our poll, the results of which reveal that 54% (172) of the Offaly public will still avoid eating meat on Ash Wednesday. That is despite the fact that we are in an age where the numbers, particularly young people, going to Mass is in decline. 46% (149) of you did say, however, that you do not mark Ash Wednesday by abstaining from eating meat products.
Tradition in Ireland dictates that we do not eat meat on Ash Wednesday or Good Friday in line with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Under the current rules for fasting and abstinence found in the Code of Canon Law, the governing rules for the Roman Catholic Church, Ash Wednesday is a day of abstinence from all meat and all foods made with meat for all Catholics over the age of 14.
In addition, Ash Wednesday is a day of strict fasting for all Catholics from age 18 to age 59. Since 1966, strict fasting has been defined as only one full meal per day, along with two small snacks that don't add up to a full meal. Those who cannot fast or abstain for health reasons are automatically dispensed from the obligation to do so.
Now we can see that Offaly is very much divided on the issue, but that the majority still maintain the tradition.