Several Catholic bishops have released statements confirming the cancellation of masses across their dioceses.

Bishop of Raphoe Alan McGuckian said no further masses with congregations would take place until March 29.

However, churches will be open during the day and he said "everyone is encouraged to go in and pray".

"Confirmations will be cancelled until further notice," added the bishop.

"Where funerals, weddings and baptisms take place, we ask that only the immediate family attend. In keeping with government guidelines, it must be less than 100 people."

Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan of the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore said: "Masses throughout the diocese will take place without the congregation physically present, therefore no public masses.

"Your local priest will celebrate daily Mass offering it up for your intentions and indeed for the whole country.  Please check our diocesan website for various resources you can use each day."

The Bishop of Limerick, Brendan Leahy, said that "care for one another, solidarity, creativity and prayer will guide us through [this] unprecedented challenge of modern times".

He confirmed all Sunday masses across the diocese will be cancelled for the next three Sundays or until further notice beyond that.

Bishop Leahy said that the measure is necessary as the Church puts its shoulder behind the national effort to protect the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

Attendance at funeral services would be limited to close relatives and must not exceed 100 attendees. "Every Catholic is entitled to a dignified Christian burial," he said.

In a statement, the Archbishop Cashel and Emly, Kieran O'Reilly, SMA, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly said: "While the cancellation of all Masses is regrettable, it communicates to our parish communities the serious impact of Covid-19.

"The obligation to be physically present at Mass on Sundays and Holy Days (including Saint Patrick's Day) is suspended for everybody until further notice.

"Parishioners are encouraged to visit their local church for prayer, and also to pray at home: praying for the sick, for those who are caring for the sick and for all who are working so hard to protect us."