Ireland’s population is over 5 million for the first time since the Great Famine

The Central Statistics Office has revealed that Ireland’s population is over 5 million, now having a bigger population than New Zealand.

Ireland's population is over 5 million for the first time since the Great Famine.

It has been recorded that Ireland’s population is over 5 million as of April 2021.

This is news for the Central Statistics Office, as this is the first time that the population has peaked past 5 million since the Great Famine in 1845.

The Great Famine – loss and devastation

The Great Famine lasted for 7 years, beginning in 1845.

The Great Famine, also known as the Great Hunger, lasted for seven years, during which time devastation ensued. The country spiralled into famine following the spread of potato blight.

This was fatal to many families. Potatoes were a staple food that most of the country relied on to eat.

As a result of this tragedy, over one million people in Ireland had died from starvation by 1852. Another million more emigrated in order to find a better life, largely to the United States.

The Great Recovery – Ireland’s population over 5 million

Ireland's population is now over 5 million, the first time since before the Great Famine.

Ireland has been haunted by the events of the Great Famine since the 19th-century, never fully recovering population numbers since before the tragedy.  

However, the Central Statistics Office has delightfully revealed recently that Ireland is now able to step out of the Great Famine’s crippling shadow. Ireland’s population is now over 5 million as of April 2021.

James Hegarty, a CSO statistician, stated that, “Ireland’s population was estimated to be 5.01 million in April 2021, which is the first time the population has risen above 5 million since the 1851 census, when the comparable population was 5.11 million.

“The total population on the island of Ireland in 1851 was 6.6 million.”

The CSO has also stated that the Republic’s current population is up by 7% in the 12 months prior to April 2021.

Why now? – factors that have increased the population

Ireland's population is now over 5 million, but why?
Credit: Tourism Ireland

There have been several factors that have contributed to Ireland’s population shooting past the 5 million mark. There have been 55,500 births and 32,700 deaths throughout the year to April. This has lead to a natural increase in the population.

As well as this, Ireland has seen positive net migration this year. Around 65,200 people have moved to Ireland, compared to the 54,000 people who left Ireland this year.

Mr Hegarty stated that Ireland recovering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic must also be factored into these statistics.

“It should be noted that this covers the 12 months to April 2021. Therefore, the results contained in this release reflect some of the demographic and social impacts of Covid-19.”

The country’s capital – Dublin’s struggling population

Whilst Dublin's population has sufffered over the past year, it hasn't stopped the rest of Ireland's population rising over 5 million!

The population of Dublin, the country’s capital, is estimated to be around 1.43 million as of April 2021. This equates to nearly 30% of the country’s population with the whole of Ireland’s population being over 5 million.

However, the city has not seen the surge in population numbers that it usually does. The effects of the pandemic could be a possible contribution to this.

Dublin only saw an increase this year of around 8,300 people. Whereas in the previous year, it had increased almost three times that amount in the same time frame.

Ireland’s comeback – a culture that welcomes all

The 1920s saw the lowest population rates of Ireland.
Credit: Old Strabane Blog

However, Dublin’s dwindling numbers don’t seem to be deterring the rest of the country from settling somewhere else in Ireland in 2021.

Whilst Ireland fell to its lowest population at around 2.8 million in 1961, the 26 counties have made their comeback in the past century, seeing some of the highest population numbers ever recorded.

Ireland’s population is now over the 5 million mark since the Great Famine, as more and more people over the years have learned to love and embrace the Irish culture – the more, the merrier!

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