Who goes where? Population change in Ireland

A third of Dublin dwellers born elsewhere


Study of internal migration in Ireland shows that exactly a third of Dublin-dwellers were born elsewhere, according to the 2011 census. One in five is from abroad, and 13.3 per cent – 165,126 individuals – were born in another county in Ireland.

However, given that the city’s maternity hospitals provide services to women in the greater Dublin area, this figure may underestimate the number of people raised in other counties who are now living in Dublin.

Indeed, the counties with the highest percentage of residents born outside them are those bordering Dublin: almost half of Meath’s Irish-born population (47.6 per cent) were born in another county, slightly higher than Kildare’s (45.3 per cent) and Wicklow’s (43.9 per cent), figures which may be largely attributed to the fact that there are no maternity hospitals in these counties.

The higher than average proportion of residents born outside these three counties can also be partially attributed to people who had previously lived in the capital choosing to move out of the city. Figures on the patterns of people moving out of Dublin in the year leading up to the 2011 census showed that the most popular destination counties for those moving out of the capital were Kildare, Meath and Wicklow in that order.

People from Leitrim, Roscommon and Longford were the most likely to live in Dublin, with almost one in 10 people from each of these counties resident in the capital in 2011.

Tracking population change in rural Ireland is a complex task. It cannot be said that rural Ireland as a whole is experiencing depopulation, though population is growing more slowly there than in cities. The 2011 census showed that Ireland’s urban population had increased by 10.6 per cent in the previous five years, while the rural population grew by just 4.6 per cent. This matches a long-term trend whereby Ireland’s rural population as a proportion of the whole has been shrinking steadily since the mid-20th century.

Within this, however, there is wide regional variation. The 2014 report of the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas shows that most rural areas “close or accessible to the main cities and larger towns experienced growth” whereas areas “less accessible” to towns and cities experienced population decline.

Six hundred electoral districts lost 62,264 people between 1991 and 2011. In these areas, the report said, “high proportions” of the population were older. “This points not only to the impact of migration of younger people with higher levels of education from these areas but also to the inability of these rural areas to attract (younger) people with higher levels of education.”