Number of Spaniards living in the State up by 78%, census shows

Brazilian population the youngest while Poles have the most postgraduate degrees

The number of Spaniards living in the State has risen by more than three-quarters in recent years while the Romanian population has grown 69 per cent, according to data released by the Central Statistics Office.

The 'Non-Irish Nationalities Living in Ireland' report, which is based on the 2016 Census findings, shows that 10 nationalities – Polish, UK, Lithuanian, Romanian, Latvian, Brazilian, Spanish, Italian, French and German – account for 70 per cent of foreign nationals living in Ireland.

Some 12,112 Spaniards were recorded as living here in 2016 marking a 78 per cent rise since 2011 – the biggest increase of any nationality living in Ireland in recent years.

The economic crisis in Spain over the past decade and soaring youth unemployment has pushed tens of thousands of young Spaniards abroad.


More than half of all Spaniards were recorded as living in Dublin while high concentrations were also found in Cork and Galway, with 95 per cent aged under 50. More than three-quarters of Spaniards were recorded as being “at work” while about 10 per cent were studying.

The number of Romanians increased by 69 per cent from 2011 to 29,186 in 2016, with nearly 60 per cent living in Dublin.

At work

Almost two-thirds of Romanians were at work with a fifth employed in the accommodation and food sector.

The rapid rise in the number of Romanians coming here follows the Government's 2012 decision to lift restrictions on workers from Romania and Bulgaria.

The census does not record how many members of the Roma community come from Romania. An estimated 2.5 million Roma people live in Romania out of a total population of 19.7 million people.

A total of 535,475 non-Irish nationals from 200 different countries live in the State or 11.6 per cent of the population recorded in 2016.

Poles make up the largest group of foreign nationals living here at 112,515, followed by 103,113 UK nationals and 36,552 Lithuanians. The last census was carried out in April 2016, just before the UK Brexit referendum which has seen a sharp increase in British nationals applying for Irish citizenship.


The Brazilian population increased by 56 per cent since 2011, with 13,640 living in the State in 2016. Some 64 per cent of Brazilians live in Dublin but there are also high concentrations in Gort, Roscommon and Naas.

Of all 10 nationalities profiled by the CSO, the Brazilian population was the youngest with an average age of 29.9 years. Romanians were the second youngest at 30.5 years. The oldest foreign national populations in Ireland were UK nationals at an average of 46.7 years and Germans at an average of 40.5 years.

Polish nationals had the largest number of people with postgraduate degrees. Latvians, Lithuanians and people from the UK had the highest rates of separation and divorce, while Spaniards, Brazilians, Italians and French were most likely to be single.

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast