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Census 2022: Initial results show population of Ireland at highest figure since 1841

The housing stock increased by 6% since 2016, lagging behind a population growth of 7.6%

A view of Dublin's skyline.
A view of Dublin's skyline.
Image: Shutterstock

CENTRAL STATISTICS OFFICE (CSO) preliminary data from this year’s census showed that Ireland’s population on census night was 5,123,536, an increase of 7.6% from 2016.

This was an additional 361,721 people, with more people migrating into the country (190,333) than the natural growth of births here (171,338).

Ireland’s population has topped five million for the first time since 1851 and is now at the highest level it’s been since 1841, before the Famine caused widespread death and emigration.

Longford was the county with the biggest proportional increase in population of 14%, likely due to its low population.

This was followed by Meath at 12.9%, and Fingal and Kildare at 11% each.

Donegal, Kilkenny, Kerry and Tipperary saw the lowest growth, at 5% each.

This year’s results, which will be finalised next year, show a change in migration trends from the previous census.

A net average of 31,000 people arrived in the country each year between 2016 and 2022, in contrast to a net emigration of 5,000 per year between 2011 and 2016.

There was also an increase of 120,945 houses since 2016, up 6%.

This is an average of a 1% increase in housing annually over the six years, falling behind the population growth of 1.2% annually in the same time.

While some counties such as Kildare saw their housing stock increase (12%) more than population (11%), Leitrim recorded a population growth of 3,000 people (a 10% increase) compared to only 600 new houses (up 3% from 2016).

The majority of new houses were located in Dublin and the surrounding counties.

In Kildare and Meath the stock of habitable dwellings increased by 12%, Wicklow was up 9% and housing stock in Dublin and Louth rose by 7%.

166,000 houses were classified as vacant on census night, however the CSO emphasised that the categories for vacancy were broad and not indicative of long-term vacancy.

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35,000 vacant homes were vacant because they were up for rent, while the property owners of 27,000 dwellings had passed away, and a further 23,000 were under renovation.

Most vacant houses were in the North West of the country.

Derelict properties and holiday homes were not counted as being vacant.

It was noted that approximately one third of the vacant houses in this year’s census (48,000) were also vacant during the 2016 census.

There was a decrease in vacancy of 9% from 2016, or 16,560 fewer vacant dwellings.

Galway City (38%) and Dublin City (30%) were the areas with the highest proportions of vacant rental properties.

In Roscommon (25%), Galway County (24%) and Mayo (24%) properties were most often vacant because the owner was deceased.

Domestic migration data also released showed that 46,000 people moved to Dublin since the last census, with 20,000 going to Cork and 15,000 moving to Meath.

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