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IT Sunday: Census shows there are more of us, but is a growing population reason for concern?

Census finds Ireland’s Polish community is getting smaller – why are Poles returning home?


Welcome to this week’s IT Sunday, a selection of the best Irish Times journalism for our subscribers.

The Republic learned a lot about itself this week as the findings of Census 2022 were published. Among the headline statistics were: Ireland’s population exceeded 5 million for the first time in 171 years; the number of people identifying as Catholic fell from 79 per cent in 2016 to 69 per cent; the average age of the population increased from 37.4 to 38.8; about a third of all workers worked from home for at least some part of their week; and the number of people with dual Irish citizenship increased by 63 per cent. Ronan McGreevy looked more closely at five of the things we learned about ourselves – read it here.

While Ireland’s population has grown, in his column this week, David McWilliams writes that Ireland is not full, and, relatively speaking, it is empty. He compares Ireland with the Netherlands, where the population has grown from 2.9 million people in 1840 to 17.1 million people now. In 1840s Ireland, there were 8 million people, compared with 5.1 million today. “Had the Irish population expanded at a similar rate to the Dutch there would be 47.1 million people in Ireland today,” McWilliams writes.

The Census results also showed the number of Polish people in Ireland has fallen significantly. While Polish remains the largest non-Irish nationality in the country, the numbers have fallen by almost a quarter (24 per cent) since 2016, from 122,515 to 93,680. Jade Wilson spoke to some Polish people to find out why they are returning home.


Later in the week, Ireland fell into a “technical recession” after the economy, as measured by GDP, experienced two consecutive quarters of negative growth. Our economics correspondent Eoin Burke-Kennedy looked at the “confusing economic metrics” that brought us to this position. “It’s hard to unpack Ireland’s economy at the best of times but being at full employment and having more people at work than at any other time in the State’s history while simultaneously recording a recession, even in technical terms, is a head-scratcher,” he writes.

In an open and honest interview with Denis Walsh, former Ireland rugby international David Corkery shared the physical and mental damage he has suffered from playing professional rugby in “the Wild West” and explains why he is suing the IRFU. Corkery was found to have brain damage which was then linked to the long-term depression he has suffered. “Did I often think, driving to work, ‘I’ll pull the wheel to the side and just plough into something?’ Yeah, loads of times. I didn’t. I suppose you kept going for the family and the kids,” he said.

Historian Catherine Corless spoke to Keith Duggan on his visit to the site of Tuam’s former mother and baby home where the remains of almost 800 babies are soon to be exhumed. Almost a decade has passed since Corless went public with the revelation that the bodies of hundreds of babies who died from various ailments while in the home had been wrapped in cloths and placed in the chambers of a defunct sewerage system at what was the rear of the former workhouse building.

In advance of the exhumation, she said: “It is going to be difficult, and they do know that the remains are mixed up and whatever cloths the babies were wrapped in are well gone. As well as that water got into the chambers. They are literally going to have to take every little bone they find and label it. And it will be an extraordinary effort by them.” Read the report here.

In this weekend’s Opinion section, Fintan O’Toole writes how the far right gives power to the most “obnoxious little gits”. O’Toole says that “people who are drawn to protests in Ireland against asylum seekers and refugees are mostly those who feel powerless and frustrated in their own lives and communities... but if you want to know what it really feels like to be powerless, try living under the kind of authoritarian regime that those who are exploiting the crisis in refugee accommodation long to create.”

After two years of hard work, Steven Carroll finally shared the big reveal of his and his girlfriend’s first-time home renovation project. Carroll says he struggles to believe they are now living in the cottage inherited by his mother from her aunt, a protected structure that was at risk of falling into serious decline. “It is 11 years since my mother, aunts and I sat with my great aunt Kitty as she took her last breaths. I wouldn’t have believed you then if you’d said I would end up taking on this house, a little piece of history and a significant part of her legacy. But we’re lucky to have had the opportunity,” he writes.

Summer is here, leaving many parents wondering how they will manage to keep their children fulfilled and entertained for the next couple of months. If that includes you, you’re in luck. We’ve put together our ultimate guide to keeping the whole family entertained this summer with 50 great days out. There’s something to suit all ages, interests, locations and budgets.

As always, there is much more on, including rundowns of all the latest movies in our film reviews, tips for the best restaurants in our food section and all the latest in sport. There are plenty more articles exclusively available for Irish Times subscribers here.

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