More Irish emigrants returning than leaving for first time since 2009

Immigration overall rises by 6.7% with 90,300 people moving to Ireland last year

The number of Irish people returning to live in Ireland from abroad has overtaken those emigrating for the first time in nine years.

Of the 90,300 people of all nationalities who moved here in the 12 months to April 2018, 28,400 (31.5 per cent) were returning Irish, up 1,000 on the previous year, according to figures published by the Central Statistics Office.

The number of Irish nationals emigrating in the 12-month period fell by 8.1 per cent to 28,300, resulting in a net inflow of 100 Irish people, up from a net outflow of 3,400 in 2016/17.

Net inward migration among non-Irish nationals increased even more substantially, from 23,200 in 2017 to 33,900 in 2018.


The total number of emigrants (both Irish and other nationalities) leaving Ireland was the lowest since 2008, at 56,300, a drop of 13 per cent on the previous year, and 32 per cent lower than the peak in 2012.

Overall, the CSO figures show 90,300 people of all nationalities moved to the State in the 12 month period, up 6.7 per cent from 84,600 the previous year, while the numbers emigrating fell 13.1 per cent from 64,800 to 56,300.

This resulted in a net inward migration of 34,000, the highest level since 2008.

The popularity of Australia among migrants from Ireland continues to fall, with just 4,500 people of all nationalities moving there in the period, down from 5,300 the previous year, and 17,400 in 2012 when numbers peaked.

Migration to the UK was also down, from 12,100 to 11,400. Canada was the only country or region which saw a rise in migration from Ireland, from 3,700 people to 3,900.

There was a significant rise in the number of people moving here from the US in the period, up 35 per cent on the previous year to 7,300. Immigration from “rest of world” countries (which excludes the UK, EU, Australia, Canada and the US) also increased substantially, from 22,800 to 27,400.

Emigration among men fell by 22.8 per cent, with just 26,400 leaving the country last year, compared to 30,000 women, which remained almost the same as in 2016/17.

A total of 49,200 people with a third-level education moved to Ireland in the period, compared to 26,500 who left, a net gain of 22,700.

A total of 61,200 babies were born in the period, while 30,700 people died, resulting in a natural population increase of 30,500.

Combined with the net inward migration figure, this brings the total estimated population of Ireland to 4.86 million, 12.2 per cent of whom are non-Irish nationals.

Ciara Kenny

Ciara Kenny

Ciara Kenny, founding editor of Irish Times Abroad, a section for Irish-connected people around the world, is Editor of the Irish Times Magazine