Irish Traveller numbers increase by 32%


The number of people enumerated as Irish Travellers has increased by 32 per cent, according to the 2011 census which also showed an overwhelming 84 per cent now lived in permanent housing.

The Irish Traveller population stood at 29,573 in 2011, the census revealed, up from 22,435 recorded in the 2006.

A regional breakdown showed Traveller numbers increased in every county with the exception of Waterford where the numbers fell by 7 per cent.

The biggest percentage increases were recorded in Cavan where Traveller numbers rose by 114 per cent and Donegal where the population increased by 99 per cent.

Galway had the largest single increase of any county, with Traveller numbers rising by 1,033 since 2006.

The figures showed Longford was the county with the highest number of Travellers per head of population, with 19.1 travellers for every thousand people.

Waterford had the lowest number per head of population with 3.8 Travellers per thousand.

There were 5,935 Travellers in Dublin, the largest number in any county, with 37 per cent domiciled in South Dublin and just 7 per cent in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown.

Perhaps one of the most surprising findings was that only 12 per cent of Irish Travellers now lived in caravans and mobile homes, compared to 25 per cent in 2006.

Cavan had the highest percentage of Travellers living in permanent housing at 97 per cent, compared with just under a 33 per cent in Limerick.

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The census results also showed Irish Travellers had a significantly younger age profile than that of the general population, with three out of four aged 34 or younger and only 10 per cent aged over 54.

The tendency of Irish Travellers to marry younger was also evident in the figures, with almost a quarter of Travellers aged between 15 and 24 married, compared with less than 2 per cent of the general population.

Only 32 per cent of Travellers aged between 25 and 34 were single compared with over two thirds of the general population in the same age group.

Director of the Irish Traveller Movement Damien Peelo said the census results reflected an increase in people “self-identifying” themselves as Travellers rather actual rise in the population.

He said the census was still under-representing the number of Travellers in the Republic, which he maintained was closer 36,000.

“Many Travellers have often hidden their identity due to fear of discrimination,” he said.