Highest immigration since Celtic Tiger pushes State population to almost 5.3m

Some 141,600 immigrants entered the Republic between April 2022 and 2023, many of them from Ukraine, CSO figures show

Some 141,600 immigrants entered the Republic in the year between April 2022 and April 2023, the most since the years of the Celtic Tiger.

It is the highest number of immigrants to enter the state in a year since immigration peaked at 151,100 in 2007, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) has reported.

The numbers between April 2022 and April 2023 were swelled by the arrival of 81,000 people from outside the EU, most of them refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.

The population of the State is now estimated at 5,281,600, an increase of 97,600 on the figure recorded in the 2022. This is an increase of almost 2 per cent in a single year, the biggest since 2008 when the population increased by 109,200.


If the present rate of growth continues the population of the State will surpass 6 million by the end of the decade. It took 17 years from 2003 to 2020 for the State to grow from a population of four million to five million and may only take 10 years to add another million

However, CSO statistician Cathal Doherty cautioned against such projections. He said immigration was frequently “volatile” and the numbers entering Ireland was boosted by the arrival of so many Ukrainian refugees.

The strong population of the Celtic Tiger years abruptly ended in 2009 with the banking collapse and net migration resulted in a large number of people leaving the country.

The normally resident population of the State in April 2022 was 5,184,000. This is almost 35,000 more than the 5,149,139 people recorded on census night in April 2022. The difference is as a result between those normally resident in the State and those present on census night.

Professor Alan Barrett, director of the ERSI, said that a population jump of 97,600 to an estimated total of 5,281,600 represented a “huge” increase.

Prof Barrett said that Ireland’s significant rate of population growth may partly explain ongoing struggles with a lack of housing stock and overcrowding in the healthcare system.

“It’s very difficult for an economy to be building and absorbing that number of people in terms of housing, the bits of the economy that are difficult to throw up overnight.”

He said that Ireland’s population has outgrown the capacity of its public infrastructure.

“It’s a bit like the child growing out of their clothes – you basically need to expand services, and expand the infrastructure to deal with the growing numbers.”

Dublin, despite its well-documented accommodation problem, is growing faster than the rest of the country with the population surpassing 1.5 million for the first time.

It now accounts for 28.4 per cent of the total population of the State, up from 27.6 per cent in 2011.

The number of Irish people moving in and out of the country balanced itself out with 29,600 returning to Ireland while 30,500 left the country giving a net migration of minus 900 people.

A total of 64,000 emigrants left Ireland between April 2022 and April 2023. This gave a net migration total of 77,600.

There was a natural increase of 20,000 people in the State, comprised of 55,500 births and 35,500 deaths.

The natural increase, the difference between births and deaths, has been falling rapidly every year as birth rates have fallen and the population ages. it peaked in 2010 at just under 50,000.

Population increase in the State is now largely being driven by immigration.

There were 806,300 people living in Ireland aged 65 and over in April 2023. Those aged 65 and over showed an increase in population share between 2017 and 2023 (increasing from 13.6 per cent to 15.3 per cent of the total), a volume increase of 153,900 people.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher is an Irish Times journalist