Ireland’s population grew by almost four per cent over the past five years but net migration levels meant that it was the slowest increase for two decades.
The latest figures published by the Central Statistics Office showed that 22,500 more people left Ireland than came in during the period between 2011 and 2016.
Co. Mayo and Co. Donegal experienced small decreases in population while the trend of moving to cities continued as Dublin, Cork and Galway saw their populations go up by 5.8, 4.6 and 4.2 per cent, respectively.
Of those coming to Ireland, many were born outside of the State. The statistics showed that almost one fifth of the population fell into this category. Of the 82,000 people who came to Ireland during the year leading up to the census, 28,000 were Irish-born whereas 54,000 were non-Irish.
However, the increase in dual-citizenships meant that the proportion of non-Irish citizens fell by 8,882 to 535,475.
Polish people remain the second biggest nationality in Ireland after Irish people but their levels remained virtually unchanged since 2011 at 122,515.
In terms of UK nationals, the number living in Ireland fell by just over 9,000 to 103,113. And there was an increase of roughly five per cent when it came to Irish Travellers in the country, with Co. Longford experiencing the biggest jump at 41 per cent.
Ireland’s population is evidently aging, with its average age now standing at 37.4 years compared to 36.1 years five years prior. Furthermore, there was a 19 per cent increase in the number of people aged 65 and over.
Co. Kerry, Co. Mayo and Co. Leitrim represent the ‘oldest’ areas, while Co. Kildare, Co. Meath and Fingal in north Co. Dublin boast younger populations.
In spite of this aging population, Irish people are becoming increasingly disenchanted with Roman Catholicism – and religion in general. It remains the dominant faith, with some 78 per cent of the population – 3.7 million people – declaring themselves as Catholic.
However, this represents a reduction of 132,220 and a fall of six per cent from 2011. What’s more, the percentage of those who consider themselves to hold no religious affiliation leapt from six per cent to one in ten.
The ‘non-religious group’ is now the second-largest religious category and is up by nearly 200,000 from five years ago.