Census Reports on Love and Language

By Olivia O’Mahony, Editorial Assistant
June / July 2017

The results of the Republic of Ireland’s most recent census, conducted April 24, 2016, were released April 6. The census, which occurs every five years, requires everyone on Irish soil to submit a thorough account of their personal information for the production of updated national statistics. First produced in 1821, the census tracks the changes in Ireland’s population distribution, age, gender, housing, and lifestyle.

The population (now over 4,761,867) has increased by 3.8 percent since 2011, with 97.8 males for every 100 females. The 2016 census is the first in Irish history since the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015, and reported accordingly – over one third of people in Ireland are married, with 6,034 such of such couples being same-sex.

The total number of people who answered “yes” to being able to speak the Irish language in 2016 was 1,761,420, a 0.7 percent decrease on the 2011 figure. Interestingly, 43.1 per cent of women indicated they could speak Irish compared with just 36.4 percent of men; however, whether this is representative of competence or confidence is difficult to know. The percentage of the population that reported speaking Irish beyond the education system was 17.4, with 53,217 Irish speakers living outside the Gaeltacht. Gaeltacht areas themselves are presently home to two percent of the population.

Regarding other languages, the 2016 results show that the amount of people speaking foreign languages in their household has gone up by 19 percent, with Polish being the most commonly-used at 135,895, nearly double the number of those who claim to speak Irish daily in non-school environments. ♦

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