More than 50,000 Irish emigrated during 2012

Almost one in four emigrants moved to the UK, while 17.3 per cent went to Australia

The number of people emigrating from Ireland continues to rise as 89,000 people left the State in the year to April, an increase of 2.2 per cent on the previous 12 months.

Figures published today by the Central Statistics Office show 50,900 Irish people emigrated in the period, up from 46,500 last year.

This brings the total number of Irish people who have emigrated since 2008 to 200,600.

Almost one in four emigrants moved to the UK, while 17.3 per cent went to Australia.


The number of people immigrating also increased by 6 per cent from 52,700 to 55,900, the highest figure since 2009 when 73,700 people moved here from other countries.

Some 15,700 Irish people moved back from abroad to live in Ireland, a drop of almost 4,000 on the previous year and almost half the figure for 2007, when 30,700 moved home. A total of 120,600 Irish emigrants have returned to Ireland since 2008.

The rise in the number of Irish people emigrating, coupled with the fall in those moving home, resulted in a significant jump in the net outward migration figure from 25,900 to 35,200 for the 12 months to April.

While the gender balance was almost equal for emigrants of all nationalities, the number of Irish men leaving outnumbered Irish women by 27,100 to 23,800.

While the majority of emigrants were in the 15 to 24 and 25 to 44 age groups, the number of children under the age of 14 who moved abroad increased significantly, from 4,900 to 6,800.

The number of children under 14 left in the State has exceeded one million for the first time, however.

Some 70,500 babies were born in the period, while 29,700 people died. This brings the natural population growth for the year to 40,800, a fall of 4,100 on the previous year.

The number of births has been falling steadily since 2010 when 77,200 babies were born.

Despite the high levels of outward migration, the population of the Republic increased by 7,700 or 0.2 per cent to 4,593,100. The increase was unevenly distributed across the regions, with the south-east showing the strongest growth at 0.9 per cent while the population of the mid-west fell by 0.6 per cent.

The number of people aged over 75 increased by 5,400 in the year to 240,500, marking a 13.3 per cent increase since 2008.

The figures are calculated using information from the Quarterly National Household Survey, combined with data on the number of PPS numbers issued in Ireland as well as the number of visas issued for Irish people in popular destinations like Australia, the US and Canada.

Senior research and policy officer with the National Youth Council of Ireland Marie-Claire McAleer said that the high level emigration was “disappointing but not unexpected”.

“The emigration figures… further underline the need for immediate and stronger Government action to stem the flow of young people leaving the country in the first instance and, secondly, the need to provide greater support and advice to young people who are left with little option but to emigrate,” she said.

The NYCI has called for the Government to assign a minister with direct responsibility for emigration and the Irish abroad.

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