Almost 20% of Galway's citizens are non-Irish

Thu, Sep 24, 2009, 01:00

ALMOST ONE-FIFTH of Galway city’s population describes itself as non-Irish in a new atlas of socio-economic trends.

Just over 78 per cent of residents are “white Irish”, while almost 2 per cent are “white Irish Traveller” and almost 3 per cent are “Black Irish”, the atlas published today by the Galway City Development Board states.

Almost 2 per cent are “Asian Irish” and just over 11 per cent are “other white”. Some 2 per cent of the population did not state what ethnic or cultural background it represented in the 2006 Census which was used to compile the atlas. The publication shows that population growth has levelled off somewhat in what has been described over the last decade as Europe’s fastest growing city of its size.

However, it is too early to say whether the description is no longer valid, said Liam Hanrahan, who was part of the development board’s project team. This would become clearer after the next census, he added.

He said statistics on employment may also have changed significantly since work on the atlas began. However, the overall picture still shows a young and highly educated populace, with significant cultural diversity.

It also shows a significant growth in people describing themselves as having a disability, with most living in the eastern and western suburbs of Barna and Ballybane. This may reflect the trend towards moving out of institutional care, and into areas where services are most accessible, Mr Hanrahan noted.

The atlas shows that the Claddagh has the highest household density in the city, at just over 2,000 households per square kilometre. Barna village, which borders on the suburb of Knocknacarra, has the highest population, with Ballybrit, home to the city’s famous race track and industrial parks, having the lowest.

Percentage growth between 2002 and 2006 in the city was 1.8 per cent above the national figure of 8.2 per cent, but lower than in the previous six years to 2002.

A severe imbalance in provision of schools is highlighted in the atlas, with the medieval pattern of schools in the city and on the west side, associated with religious institutions, still prevailing. This is in spite of the fact that just under 24 per cent of the population is classified at under 15 years of age.

Some 12.16 per cent of all households are lone parent, with Rahoon and Ballybane experiencing the highest incidence and reflecting also high areas of local authority housing, the atlas states.

The dearth of venues for the city’s very active artistic community is also highlighted, with a map of publicly-funded arts venues and of arts organisations. It notes that the city has no municipal gallery – nor has the city a music school.

A series of 10 key maps from the atlas are on display from today at Galway City Museum, and will be exhibited as part of a roadshow travelling to other city venues in the autumn.

Images reflecting the experiences of asylum seekers in the city are also on display in a separate exhibition at Galway City Hall, which continues till the end of this month.

The photographs by 14 asylum seekers of 10 nationalities were commissioned by the Galway Refugee Support Group for a World Refugee Day photography contest.

The photographers, some of whom did not wish to be identified publicly, live in “direct provision” accommodation, and come from Chad, Somalia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Albania, Burundi and Zimbabwe.