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The following files can only be utilised by users who have access to software which will enable them to perform their own analysis of census data within a GIS (Geographical Information Systems) environment.

The files are in ESRI Shape (SHP) format which is a proprietary format created by the Environmental System Research Institute. The ESRI Shape (SHP) file format is a vector format. SHP files support point, multi-point, polygon, polyline and multi-patches.

The ESRI file format contains three files Main file: *.shp, Index file: *.shx and DBase file: *.dbf for each boundary.

The three files must be downloaded. Most GIS applications can read SHP files.


Ireland is divided into four provinces called Leinster, Ulster, Munster and Connacht. Although they presently do not have any administrative functions, they are relevant for a number of historical, cultural and sporting reasons. The borders of the provinces coincide exactly with the boundaries of the administrative counties. Three of the nine counties in Ulster are within the jurisdiction of the State.

NUTS boundaries

The Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS) were drawn up by Eurostat in order to define territorial units for the production of regional statistics across the European Union. The NUTS classification has been used in EU legislation since 1988, but it was only in 2003 that the EU Member States, the European Parliament and the Commission established the NUTS regions within a legal framework (Regulation (EC) No 1059/2003).

The Irish NUTS 3 regions comprise the eight Regional Authorities established under the Local Government Act, 1991 (Regional Authorities) (Establishment) Order, 1993 which came into operation on January 1st 1994. The NUTS 2 regions, which were proposed by Government and agreed to by Eurostat in 1999, are groupings of the Regional Authorities.

Administrative counties

In census reports the country is divided into 29 counties/administrative counties and the five Cities which represent the local authority areas. Outside Dublin there are 26 administrative counties (North Tipperary and South Tipperary each ranks as a separate county for administrative purposes) and four Cities, i.e. Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Galway. In Dublin the four local authority areas are identified separately, i.e. Dublin City and the three administrative counties of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal and South Dublin.

Electoral Divisions

There are 3,440 Electoral Divisions (EDs) which are the smallest legally defined administrative areas in the State.  One ED, St. Mary's, straddles the Louth-Meath county border, and is presented in two parts in the SAPS tables, with one part in Louth and the other in Meath. There are 32 EDs with low population, which for reasons of confidentiality have been amalgamated into neighbouring EDs giving a total of 3,409 EDs which appear in the SAPS tables.

The graphic file contains the boundaries for 3,409 EDs. The boundaries have been smoothed in accordance with our licencing agreement with OSi Ireland. These boundaries are for general information only and any individual or organisation downloading them are required to acknowledge the terms and conditions under which they are made available.  

Small Areas

Small Areas are areas of population comprising between 50 and 200 dwellings created by The National Institute of Regional and Spatial Analysis(NIRSA) on behalf of the Ordnance Survey Ireland(OSi) in consultation with CSO. Small Areas were designed as the lowest level of geography for the compilation of statistics in line with data protection and generally comprise either complete or part of townlands or neighbourhoods. There is a constraint on Small Areas that they must nest within Electoral Division boundaries.

Small areas were used as the basis for the Enumeration in Census 2011. Enumerators were assigned a number of adjacent Small Areas constituting around 400 dwelling in which they had to visit every dwelling and deliver and collect a completed census form and record the dwelling status of unoccupied dwellings.

The small area boundaries have been amended in line with population data from Census 2011

2007 Constituency boundaries (old)

For the purpose of elections to Dáil Éireann the country is divided into Constituencies which, under Article 16.4 of the Constitution of Ireland, have to be revised at least once every twelve years with due regard to changes in the distribution of the population. The Constituencies were revised in 2007 and the Schedule to the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2009 contains details of their composition.

2013 Constituency boundaries (new)

Following the publication of Census 2011 results the constituencies were amended by the Constituency Commission and passed into law under the Electoral (Amendment) (Dáil Constituencies) Act 2013.

Gaeltacht Areas

The Gaeltacht Areas Orders, 1956, 1967, 1974 and 1982 defined the Gaeltacht as comprising 155 Electoral Divisions or parts of Electoral Divisions in the counties of Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Mayo, Meath and Waterford. 

2008 Local Electoral Areas

For the purposes of County Council and Corporation elections each county and city is divided into Local Electoral Areas (LEAs) which are constituted on the basis of Orders made under the Local Government Act, 1941.  In general, LEAs are formed by aggregating Electoral Divisions.  However, in a number of cases Electoral Divisions are divided between LEAs to facilitate electors.  The current composition of the LEAs have been established by Statutory Instruments No’s 427-452/2008, 503-509/2008 and 311/1998.

Legal Towns and Cities

Urban areas with legally defined boundaries consist of the five Cities (Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford), five Boroughs (Clonmel, Drogheda, Kilkenny, Sligo and Wexford) and 75 Towns as established under the Local Government Act, 2001 (S.I. 591 of 2001). Extensions to the boundaries can also occur, subject to legislation passed under the instruction of the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government.

Settlements (Census towns, legal towns and environs, cities and suburbs)

In order to distinguish between the urban and rural population for census analysis, the boundaries of distinct settlements need to be defined. This requires the creation of suburbs and extensions to existing cities and legal towns as well as delineating boundaries for settlements which are not legally defined (called Census towns).

From 1971 to 2006, Census towns were defined as a cluster of fifty or more occupied dwellings where, within a radius of 800 metres there was a nucleus of thirty occupied dwellings (on both sides of a road, or twenty on one side of a road), along with a clearly defined urban centre e.g. a shop, a school, a place of worship or a community centre.  Census town boundaries where extended over time where there was an occupied dwelling within 200 metres of the existing boundary.

To avoid the agglomeration of adjacent towns caused by the inclusion of low density one off dwellings on the approach routes to towns, the 2011 criteria were tightened, in line with UN criteria.

In Census 2011 a new Census town was defined as being a cluster with a minimum of 50 occupied dwellings, with a maximum distance between any dwelling and the building closest to it of 100 metres, and where there was evidence of an urban centre (shop, school etc). The proximity criteria for extending existing 2006 Census town boundaries was also amended to include all occupied dwellings within 100 metres of an existing building. Other information based on OSi mapping and orthogonal photography was taken into account when extending boundaries. Boundary extensions were generally made to include the land parcel on which a dwelling was built or using other physical features such as roads, paths etc.

Extensions to the environs and suburbs of legal towns and cities were also constructed using the 100 metre proximity rule applied to Census towns.

For census reports, urban settlements are towns with a population of 1,500 or more, while settlements with a population of less than 1,500 are classified as rural.

Garda boundaries

An Garda Siochána, for administrative purposes, divide the State into 4 levels of geographical areas:

6 Regions (Northern, Southern, Eastern, Western, South Eastern, and Dublin Metropolitan Area)

28 Divisions

96 Districts

563 Sub-Districts

Their composition is unique to An Garda Siochána and obeys a hierarchical structure: sub-districts are combined to produce districts, and districts are combined to produce divisions etc. These boundaries reflect the station consolidation program as outlined in An Garda Síochána’s Policing Plan 2013. However it should be noted that they are always under constant review by An Garda Siochána, and should therefore be used for general information purposes only.


Baronies were created after the Norman invasion and were used for administration until the 1898 Local Government Act. As a historical unit of geography, they are still of use in researching both land registration documents and censuses prior to 1911. Several Baronies straddle the existing County boundaries.

Please read and accept the terms of the disclaimer below to view and download the boundary files. 

Boundary Files 

The shape files contain generalised boundaries. The following variables have been included with all sets of boundaries: 

Variable name Description
Male2011, Female2011. Total2011 The de facto count of males, females and total population respectively
PPOcc2011 Permanent private housing units
Unocc2011 The total unoccupied dwellings on Census (total vacant dwellings + temporarily absent dwellings)
Vacant2011 Total vacant dwellings (vacant houses + vacant flats + holiday homes)
HS2011 Total housing stock (PPOcc2011+Unocc2011)
PCVac2011 Vacancy rate (Vacant2011/HS2011)

 Click on the links below to download the shapefiles.  These files are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

Area File
 Provinces Provinces (ZIP 694KB)  
 Nuts2 NUTS2 (ZIP 690KB)  
 Nuts3 Not available 
 Administrative Counties 26 Counties (ZIP 992KB)
 Electoral Divisions Electoral Divisions (ZIP 8,336KB)
 Small Areas Small Areas (ZIP 6,486KB)
 2007 Constituency Boundaries Constituencies 2007 (ZIP 11,514KB)
 2013 Constituency Boundaries Constituency (ZIP 30,573KB)
 Gaeltacht Areas Gaeltacht (ZIP 3,218KB)
 2008 Local Electoral Areas Lea (ZIP 45,430KB)
 Legal Towns and Cities Legal Towns and Cities (ZIP 2,862KB)
 Settlements Settlements (ZIP 16,706KB)
 Catholic Church Dioceses Diocese (ZIP 5,083KB)
 Catholic Church Dublin Parishes Parishes (ZIP 931KB)
 Garda Regions Garda Regions (ZIP 6,983KB)
 Garda Divisions Garda Divisions (ZIP 9,214KB)
 Garda Districts Garda Districts (ZIP 13,045KB)
 Garda Sub Districts Garda Sub Districts (ZIP 25,251KB)
 Baronies Baronies (ZIP 26,763KB)