Ireland’s population is at its highest for 150 years

Irish population high
Ireland’s Famine monument in Dublin’s docklands. Irish population high Photo: RollingNews.ie

The Republic’s population now at 4.75 million despite emigration

Ireland’s population is at its highest for 150 years in spite of high levels of emigration; the latest figures from Ireland’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) have shown, writes Adam Shaw.

The Republic now boasts a population of over 4.75 million, an increase of almost 170,000 from 2011. This is largely due to Ireland’s relatively high birth rate, resulting in a natural increase of approximately 200,000.

However, the net migration stands at -28,558, suggesting that more people are leaving Ireland than arriving on a permanent basis. Furthermore, the separate county data shows that there is a population shift towards the greater Dublin area since 2011, with decreases in the border and western regions.

The largest drop was seen in Donegal – a county which suffers some of the worst emigration trends – with its population down 1.5 per cent. Mayo and Sligo also suffered population decreases, at 0.2 and 0.1 per cent respectively.

The fastest population growth over the last five years was in the north Dublin area classed as Fingal, where there has been an 8.1 per cent increase. Other places which saw at least a five per cent spike were South Dublin, Kildare, Laois, Meath and Cork and Galway cities.

Census 2016’s preliminary results also revealed a continued fall in the sex ratio trend as there are now 978 men for every 1,000 women. In 1841, the population of what is now the Republic of Ireland was 6.5 million, but the impact of the Great Famine and mass emigration led to a sharp decline. The country’s population did not start to rise again until the early 1970s but despite a continual increase since then (bar the 1991 census), growth has slowed.

Justin Gleeson of the All- Ireland Research Observatory at Maynooth University said: “In the last two census periods we saw major population increases of about 8 per cent. “Now, we’re seeing much more marginal increases of about 1.5 per cent. While the natural population increase is still very positive in Ireland, the major contributory factor to this lower population growth is the change in net migration flows.”

Net migration – the number of immigrants minus emigrants – has fallen from 25,000 in the period from 2006 to 2011 to -5,712 in the latest census. The CSO explained that the migration data should be treated with caution since this calculation method takes into account temporary visitors and Irish holidaymakers.

“Users should note that net migration estimated in this way also incorporates the effect of non-migratory movements such as variations in the level of visitors in the State on census night or the number of Irish residents temporarily abroad,” it said.

“These factors, combined with the preliminary nature of these first estimates, mean users should treat this net migration estimate with caution until a greater level of analysis can be conducted on the final census results.”

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