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We're almost as fond of marriage as we were in 1864 (and we're rather less likely to die)

Details of deaths, births and marriages recorded in Ireland from 150 years ago are now available to view online…

Image: crosses via Shutterstock

THREE QUARTERS OF all deaths occurring in Ireland in 2011 were caused by either circulatory or respiratory diseases, or cancer.

150 years ago, the picture was quite different —20 per cent of all fatalities recorded came about as a result of the likes of Croup, Scarlatina, Whooping Cough, Fever, Smallpox, Measles and Dysentery.

The Central Statistics Office has just placed a series of annual reports on deaths, births and marriages online — dating back to 1864. The records run from 1864 to 86, and again from 1922 to 2000. Reports from 2001 to 2011 were already available on the web.

Scholars and statisticians will no doubt be poring over the details for years to come: the records provide some compelling insights into Irish life over the last century-and-a-half…



There were 93,144 deaths registered in 1864 — a death rate of 16.4 per 1,000 of the population. This had fallen to a rate of 14.1 per cent by 1922 due to medical advancements and improved lifestyle conditions. By 2011, the rate was at 6.2 per 1,000.

Of the 44,547 deaths in 1922, some 4,614 people died from TB, over 3,000 from Bronchitis, nearly 2,800 from Pneumonia and 1,812 from Influenza. By 1964 diseases of the heart were cited as the underlying cause of death in 10,303 cases: 401 people also died from TB that year and a further 316 died from flu.

Deaths of children aged under 12 months accounted for 13,425 deaths in 1864. By 2011 there were 262 cases of infant mortality.



3.8 per cent of all births recorded in 1864 were stated as being “illegitimate”. The term was still in use in 1922 when 2.6 per cent fell into the category. By 1964 the figure decreased again to 2 per cent. By 2011 the number of births outside of marriage/civil partnerships represented over one-third or 33.9 per cent (25,091) of all live births.

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The ratio of boys to girls has remained more-or-less stable over time. While it was 105.6 boys to 100 girls in 1864, it was 106.5 boys to 100 girls in 1922 and 104.6 boys to 100 girls in 1964. In 2011 it had risen slightly to 104.9 boys for every 100 girls.



1,032 men were aged under 21 years when they married in 1864 — but almost 5 times as many females (4,976) were 20 or younger when they wed.

Of the 54,812 people married that year, almost half signed the register simply with with marks, suggesting the absence of an elementary education. By 1922 some 97.3 per cent of husbands and 98.3 per cent of wives signed the marriage register or certificate — the remainder making a mark. In 10 per cent of marriages that year, one or both of the parties had been married previously.

Finally — the overall marriage rate (measured per 1,000 of the population) has remained remarkably consistent since 1864, when it was 4.8. The rate was also 4.8 in 1922, rising to 5.7 in 1964 and decreasing to 4.3 in 2011.

Read: Households in just four counties have more disposable income than average

Read: Crime figures show fall in homicides, but rise in kidnappings

About the author:

Daragh Brophy

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