The 1901 and 1911 Census records, which are available online on the National Archives website are a valuable resource which allow Irish people, wherever they may be, to get a glimpse into our past, whether to research their own ancestors or to get a feel for the history of Ireland. The website is freely accessible, with no charge for viewing any of the material.
Check out the census forms below for a selection of interesting Census records from 1901 and 1911 and check out some of the now famous Irish people who were included in the Census in 1901 or 1911 or both!
Thomas Clarke was the first signatory of the Proclamation by virtue of his seniority. He was a member of the Fenians since his teens and served 15 years in prison for his part in a Clan na nGael bombing campaign. He emigrated to America on release from prison in 1898 and returned in 1907. He was one of the first of the rebels to be executed in Kilmainham Jail on 3rd May 1916.
Seán Mac Diarmada was living in 15 Russell Place, Rotunda, Dublin according to his 1911 census return. He was 26 years of age, a clerk and single, although he stated ‘single but not for long’. He filled out his form in Irish. Although afflicted with polio in 1911 and needing a walking stick, together with Tom Clarke, Denis McCullough and Bulmer Hobson, Mac Diarmada is credited with revitalising the IRB and becoming a popular leader. A signatory of the Proclamation and a member of the Provisional Government, he spent the Rising in the GPO. He was executed by firring squad at Kilmainham on May 12. Mac Diarmada was unmarried.
Return for Thomas Mac Donagh living in Haroldsgrange, Whitechurch, at the time a 33 year old poet and teacher. A published poet and founding member of the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland, Thomas Mac Donagh taught in St Enda’s in Ranelagh, the boy’s school established by Pádraig Pearse. He would go on to take an active role in the 1916 rising and become one of the signatories of the proclamation. He was executed on 3 May 1916 in Kilmainham Jail.
Return for Patrick Henry Pearse (Padraig Pearse) living at 363 Sandymount Avenue in Dublin, at the time a 21 year old law student. He would go on to become a barrister, Irish teacher, poet, writer, nationalist, signatory of the 1916 proclamation and one of the leaders of the Easter Rising, and be executed, along with his brother Willie and the other leaders of the 1916 Rising.
Éamonn Ceannt was born Edward Thomas Kent in 1881 in the police barracks at Ballymoe, Co. Galway, the son of James Kent, an officer in the Royal Irish Constabulary, and his wife, Joanne Galway. The family moved to Ardee, Co. Louth when James was transferred there, then to Drogheda before settling in Dublin when James retired. The 1901 return shows the then 19 year old Edward employed as a corporation clerk and living with the rest of the family in Clontarf. By 1911, Éamonn Ceannt had married and was living in Kilmainham with his wife Áine and son Rónán. On Easter Monday 1916, Ceannt and 120 men of the 4th Battalion of the Irish Volunteers occupied the South Dublin Union, a workhouse/ hospital spread over fifty-two acres off James’s Street and also some covering buildings. They held part of the complex until they were informed of the general surrender the following Sunday. Ceannt was tried by court-martial and executed by firing squad in Kilmainham Jail on 8 May.
The 1901 return shows James Connolly, Irish socialist leader and signatory of the1916 Proclamation, living in a house in Merchants Quay, Dublin. The 1911 return shows the family living at 70 Lotts Road Dublin. Interestingly he lists his place of birth as Co. Monaghan, despite being widely thought to have been born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of Co. Monaghan emigrants.
Joseph Mary Plunkett was born in 1887 to George Noble Plunkett, a papal count, and his wife Josephine Cranny. The 1901 return shows the family living in Glencullen, Co. Dublin. Joseph contracted tuberculosis as a young man and spent periods in Italy, Algeria and Egypt in the years 1910-12. Despite being in very poor health and recovering from a major operation on glands in his neck, Plunkett joined other members of the Provisional Government in the General Post Office in Easter 1916. Following the surrender, he was tried by court-martial and sentenced to death by firing squad. He married his fiancée Grace Gifford, a sister-in-law of Thomas MacDonagh, in Kilmainham Jail on the night before his execution on 4 May.
The 1911 return for the Bacon household at 3 Kennycourt, Gilltown, Co. Kildare, includes the one year old Francis, who would become the most sought-after international artist of the post-war period.
Return for Norah Barnacle, the future Mrs. James Joyce, living with her family at Bowling Green in Galway city in 1901, aged 18 and working as a laundress. Three years later, she was to meet Joyce and inspire the day immortalised in Ulysses, 16 June, 1904.
The 1911 return for the Beckett household in Kerrymount, Ballybrack, Co. Dublin shows four year old Samuel Barclay, later to become writer, dramatist and poet. He was widely regarded as one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969.
The 1901 return for the Collins family living at Woodfield, Coolcraheen, Cork, includes Michael, a 10 year old schoolboy. By 1911, Michael Collins was living in London. Known as “the Big Fellow” Collins was a revolutionary leader, a Member of the 1st Dáil, Chairman of the Irish provisional government and Commander-in-chief of the provisional government army. On the 22nd August 1922, Michael Collins was fatally wounded at an ambush at Béal na Bláth.
The college and boarding school return at an address in Williamstown, Blackrock, Co. Dublin lists an 18 year old Edward De Valera. Born George De Valero in New York in 1882, he was taken to live in Ireland by his uncle aged 2 after the death of his father and reared by his mother’s family in Co. Limerick. In 1901 he was a student at Blackrock College, Dublin. By 1911 he was married and living with his wife Sinead and baby son Vivien in 33 Morehampton Terrace, Dublin. A leader of the 1916 rising, he later founded Fianna Fáil and had a long political career, serving as Taoiseach (1932-48, 1951-54 and 1957-59) and President of Ireland (1959-1973).
The return for the Flanagan household at 6 Richmond Cottages, Mountjoy, Dublin, includes Jane, a 22 year old national teacher. Jane Flanagan changed her name to the Irish equivalent, Sinead, and met her future husband Eamon DeValera, whom she married in January 1910, while teaching Irish with the Gaelic League. The 1911 return shows the family living in 33 Morehampton Terrace, Dublin. Sinead de Valera is widely known in her own right as an author of Irish Fairy stories for children in both Irish and English.
Return for Lady Augusta Gregory, staying at Nolan’s Hotel in Sth. Frederick St. in 1911, accompanied by WB Yeats. She was a co-founder of the Abbey theatre and a serious folklorist and writer.
Return for Oliver St.John Gogarty for 1911, when he famously forgot he was married. He was a surgeon and writer and the model for Buck Mulligan in James Joyce’s Ulysses.
Return for Rosanna (Rosie) Hackett, living with her family in Abbey St. in Dublin. She was responsible for leading the women workers in Jacob’s biscuit factory out on strike in 1913, was a key member of the Irish Women Workers’ Union, and printed the 1916 Proclamation in Liberty Hall. The Rosie Hackett Bridge linking Marlborough Street to Hawkins Street in Dublin was opened in May 2014.
Return for High Park Magdalen Laundry in Drumcondra, giving details of some of the 160 laundresses living there in 1901.
The 1901 return records Douglas Hyde and his family living in Ratra, Frenchpark. Scholar of the Irish language he published a substantial amount of Irish verse under the penname “An Craoibhín Aoibhinn” and was co-founder of the Gaelic League. He would later become a Senator and the first President of Ireland from 1938-1945. Note that Dr. Hyde’s 1911 return, by which time he was living at 1 Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin, was completed in the Irish language.
The return for the Joyce household in Royal Terrace, Clontarf, Dublin includes 19 year old student James Augustine, later to become the novelist and poet who would find fame as the author of Ulysses and be regarded as one of the most influential writers of the early twentieth century.
The return for the Kavanagh household in Mucker, Kiltybegs, Co. Monaghan includes 7 year old Patrick, later to become poet and novelist. Fans of Kavanagh’s autobiographical novel ‘The Green Fool’ will note his father’s occupation, shoemaker, and the presence of a journeyman shoemaker in the household on census night 1911.
Return for Dr. Kathleen Lynn, doctor, member of the Irish Citizen Army and later founder of St. Ultan’s Children’s Hospital.
Return for Dorothy Macardle, author of The Irish Republic, the first history of the revolutionary period, living at Wellington Rd. in Dublin. Note that she refuses information as to her religion. She became disillusioned with De Valera, her early hero, in later life.
Return for Alice Milligan, living at Clifton St. in Belfast; noted poet and author of many prose works.
Return for Sean O’Casey (Seaghan O’Cathasaigh) in 1911. O’Casey was involved with the Irish Citizen Army, the Gaelic League (hence the Irish language return) and the trade union movement. He was living at Abercorn Rd., East Wall with his mother Susan and his brother Michael.
Return for Edith Somerville and Violet Martin, living at Drishane in South Cork in 1911. These women wrote under the pen names of Somerville and Ross. Their Irish RM stories were immensely popular.
Return for Margaret Guiheen (Peig Sayers), living on the Great Blasket Island with her husband, her brother-in-law and her six surviving children, out of ten born. She became famous as the author of her autobiography, Peig, which generations of Irish schoolchildren studied.
Return for the Vice-Regal Lodge (now Áras an Uachtaráin) in 1911. Lord Aberdeen was Lord Lieutenant. His wife, Ishbel Maria Gordon, was a well-known feminist who founded the Women’s National Health Association in Ireland, to spearhead the fight against tuberculosis.
Return for John (Jack) Butler Yeats, artist, living at 13 Rathdown Lower, Greystones, Co. Wicklow. Brother of poet William Butler Yeats and close friend of Samuel Beckett, he was an author and an artist of international renown, famous for his paintings of the Irish landscape, horses, circus and travelling players.
Return for WB Yeats, staying at Nolan’s Hotel in South. Frederick St. in 1911, accompanied by Lady Augusta Gregory. A poet and dramatist, Yeats was one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923. He was the driving force behind the Irish literary Revival and, along with Lady Gregory and others, founded the Abbey Theatre. He served as a senator for two terms.