Number with dual Irish nationality soars by nearly 90%

Census shows 535,475 foreign nationals from 200 countries are living in Ireland

The number of people in Ireland who hold dual Irish nationality has increased by nearly 90 per cent over the last five years, according to the latest data from the census. People from the United States, the United Kingdom and Poland are most likely to identify as dual Irish nationals.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) Migration and Diversity report shows that 535,475 foreign nationals from 200 different countries were living in the State on census night April 24th, 2016 , marking a drop of 1.6 per cent on the 2011 figure.

The number of people with dual Irish nationality increased by 87.4 per cent to 104,784 over the period with 17,552 Irish-Americans, 15,428 Irish-UK nationals and 9,273 Irish-Polish.

Nearly two-thirds of dual nationals, or 66,440 people, were born abroad.


As the census was carried out two months before the Brexit referendum, the rise in Irish-UK dual nationals is not believed to be connected with the vote to leave the European Union.

Polish people made up the largest group of foreign nationals living in Ireland last year at 23 per cent, with 122,515 Poles scattered across the State.

The second biggest group was UK nationals (103,113) followed by 36,552 Lithuanians.

The United States, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Spain and the UK all had more than 10,000 residents in Ireland, accounting for 73.6 per cent of the total foreign national population.

Ballyhaunis in Co Mayo was the town with the highest number of foreign nationals with nearly 40 per cent of its population consisting of non-Irish.

Two Longford towns followed, with 32.3 per cent of the population in Edgeworthstown and 32.1 per cent in Ballymahon made up of foreign nationals.

Most multicultural city

Galway is cited as the “most multicultural” city in the census, with 18.6 per cent of its residents recorded as non-Irish.

Just over 17 per cent of residents in Dublin city, or 91,876 people, and one in six Finglas residents were foreign nationals in April 2016. Counties Sligo and Leitrim had the lowest number of foreign nationals.

In the year running April 2016, 82,346 people moved to Ireland to live. Of these, 53,708 were foreign nationals and 28,143 were Irish nationals returning home.

The 2016 census shows Ireland is becoming an increasingly multi-lingual country with 612,018 residents speaking a language other than Irish or English at home, marking a rise of nearly 100,000 people since 2011.

Of these, about 60 per cent (363,715) were foreign nationals and the top languages spoken were Polish (113,225), Lithuanian (30,502) Romanian (26,645) and Portuguese (16,737).

Despite the rise in linguistic abilities, the proportion of people who are foreign nationals fell from 12.2 per cent of the population in 2011 to 11.6 per cent in 2016. However, the CSO attributes this fall, in part, to the rapid rise in the number of people with dual Irish nationality.

The foreign nationals living in Ireland are also younger on average than the Irish population, with nearly half of all non-Irish aged between 25 and 42. The average age of non-Irish nationals rose from 32.6 years in 2011 to 34.8 years in 2016, while the average age for Irish nationals increased by just one year to 37.7 years.

Just 5 per cent of non-Irish nationals are aged 65 year or over, while 12.4 per cent are aged 0-14 years.

Nearly half of the foreign nationals living here are married, while over half of all French, Italian, Spanish and Brazilian people living in Ireland are single. Indian nationals were most likely to be married and Latvians had the highest separated/divorced rate.

Almost half of the 293,830 foreign nationals in the State’s workforce were employed in wholesale and retail trade, accommodation and food services, manufacturing industries and human health and social work.

Some 15.4 per cent of the foreign nationals were unemployed in 2016, compared to 12.6 per cent among the Irish population.

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

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