Census shows population at highest level for 150 years


The first results from Census 2011  show Ireland's population now stands at 4,581,269, an increase of 341,421 over the last count.

The previous census in 2006 showed the population had reached 4.2 million, the first time since 1871 that it had risen above the 4 million mark.

This year’s census, which is based on forms collected last April, shows the population has grown by 8.1 per cent over the past five years.

The results are about 100,000 more than predicted by the Central Statistics Office. While population growth was high in 2006 – driven by inward migration and a high birth rate – it has slowed considerably since the economic downturn.

The CSO said 363,500 births, and 140,700 deaths between 2006 to 2011, have given a natural increase of 222,800 people. “This is extremely strong by international comparisons,” it added.

Ireland also experienced strong net inward migration of about 118,650 people for the early years of the five years. However, the CSO said this trend had switched to net outward migration in the latter part of the five-year period.

Despite large numbers leaving the State, Ireland’s very high birth rate means the population has continued to grow. Latest official figures show there were some 73,724 births last year, down slightly from 74,278 the year before. Ireland was estimated to have the highest birth rate in the European Union in 2009.

The results show Laois had the fastest-growing population, increasing by 13,399 from 67,059 in 2006 to 80,458 in 2001, a rise of 20 per cent. The next fastest-growing county was Cavan, which increased by 13.9 per cent.

Other counties with strong growth were Fingal (13.8 per cent), Longford (13.3 per cent), Meath (13.0 per cent) and Kildare (12.7 per cent), which are part of the wider Dublin commuter belt.

The population of Cork city and county now exceeds 500,000 people for the first time since the Famine. Co Cork showed an increase of 37,339 or 10.3 per cent. Galway was the only other county outside of the Dublin commuter belt area to record double digit increases.

The population of Limerick and Cork cities fell by 5.0 per cent and 0.4 per cent respectively between 2006 and 2011.

In a reversal of the 2006 census there are now more females than males in the country with 981 males for every 1,000 females. There are now 43,864 more females than males in the State. Dublin had the lowest ratio with only 949 males for every 1,000 females, while the Midlands was the only region to show more males than females with 1,002 for every 1,000.

The previous census showed 15 per cent of all housing was vacant in April 2006. The results for 2011 show the total number of vacant dwellings is up by 27,880 – or 10.5 per cent - from 266,322 to 294,202.

The total housing stock has also increased since 2006 by 13.3 per cent, meaning the overall vacancy rate has fallen slightly to 14.7 per cent. The largest percentage increase in homes was in Laois (21.2 per cent), followed by Cavan,

Donegal, Leitrim and Longford which all showed increases of above 19 per cent. Limerick County and the five cities all showed the lowest increases.

Today’s preliminary census results give an overall figure for the population as it stood on Sunday, April 10th of this year. They are based on summary counts for each enumeration area which were compiled by almost 5,000 census staff, or “enumerators”. These forms were returned to the CSO in advance of the census forms themselves.

CSO statistician Shaun McLaughlin said the scanning and processing of the two million census forms has begun, but the first definitive results will not be published until next March.

As well as standard information about respondents’ marital status, ethnic background and religion, the census asked two new questions relating to the level of proficiency in spoken English and health. The CSO says data from the language question will be used to target State resources in areas such as education and health to support people who may struggle with English. The answers to health will provide officials with a State-wide picture of people’s health and how it is related to various factors such as age.