Back to Top

 Skip navigation


Census 2011 Results


Profile 6 Migration and Diversity – a Profile of Diversity in Ireland


The Central Statistics Office today released the latest publication in its series of Census 2011 results, showing that the number of non-Irish nationals living in Ireland grew from 224,261 persons in 2002 to 544,357 in 2011, an increase of 143 per cent over the nine year period.

Today’s publication, “Profile 6 Migration and Diversity – A Profile of Diversity in Ireland ”, presents a profile of the non-Irish nationals living in Ireland in April 2011, along with results on recent migration, foreign languages and ability to speak English.

Deirdre Cullen, Senior Statistician at the CSO: “This report provides further analysis of the non-Irish population living in Ireland at the time of the last census. It examines aspects such as mixed nationality households, age structure and marital status, numbers in towns, as well as new data on ability to speak English by year of arrival into Ireland”.

The full report is available on the CSO website at along with all the data which is available in a range of interactive web tables, allowing users to build their own tables by selecting the data they are interested in and downloading it in an easy to use format for their own analysis.

Ms Cullen concluded “Ireland has become an increasingly diverse society over the past decade and the different nationalities that make up the population of Ireland have an increasingly important impact on the economy and society. This report provides yet more analysis and results from census 2011 on this important group. Further details on these results, and all census data, from county level right down to town, electoral division and Small Area level is available on the census page of the CSO web site.”


Highlights of the report


Non-Irish nationals living in Ireland


There were a total of 544,357 non-Irish nationals living in Ireland in April 2011, representing 199 different nations.

The growth in the number of non-Irish nationals has continued since 2006, albeit at a slower pace than earlier years. Total numbers increased by 124,624 over the five years to April 2011 which represents a rise of 30 per cent.

Polish nationals increased by 93.7 per cent since 2006 from 63,276 to 122,585 in 2011 marking them the largest group ahead of UK nationals with 112,259.


Where they live


The administrative counties of Dublin City (88,038 persons), Fingal (49,517) and Cork County (42,886) had the highest numbers of non-Irish nationals while Leitrim (3,703) and Longford (5,477) had the lowest numbers. Fingal saw the largest increase (+15,151 persons), while Galway City was the most multi-cultural with 19.4 per cent of its residents recorded as non-Irish.


Sex and age structure


Non-Irish nationals were split fairly evenly by gender in April 2011 with 271,864 males and 272,493 females. 60 per cent were in the 22 - 44 year age group, compared with just 32 per cent for Irish nationals.


Marital Status


Of the 465,788 non-Irish nationals in Ireland aged 15 and over in 2011, just under half (49%) were married compared with 47 per cent of the Irish population. The rate of separated or divorced persons was higher amongst non-Irish nationals at 7.9 per cent in 2011 compared with 5.3 per cent for Irish nationals.

Amongst nationalities, Chinese nationals aged 15 and over were more likely to be single (51.5%), while Indian nationals were more likely to be married (82.4%).


Living arrangements


The most prevalent household type among all non-Irish nationals was a couple with children accounting for 34 per cent of households, very close to that of Irish headed households at 35 per cent.

Single person households made up 17 per cent of households headed by non-Irish nationals compared with one in four Irish households, attributed in part to the higher number of older Irish people who live alone.

Among nationalities with 1,000 or more persons Nigerian headed households had the highest percentage of lone parent households at 33 per cent. This compared with the average of 10 per cent for all non-Irish headed households in 2011.


Place of Birth


There were 25,198 non-Irish nationals who were born in Ireland. Polish nationals were the largest single group, with 8,928 persons, followed by Lithuanians (2,018), UK nationals (1,921) and Latvians (1,199).

241,221 Irish nationals were born outside the State. The vast majority (178,945) were born in the UK, followed by the USA (16,703), Australia (3,220), Canada (2,524) and South Africa (2,440).


Economic status


There were 268,180 non-Irish resident nationals at work in Ireland in April 2011 accounting for 15.1 per cent of the total number of workers at the time. Polish and UK nationals accounted for 43.4 per cent of these workers (116,375) while the remaining 151,805 workers came from a total of 185 different nations.

Non-Irish nationals looking after the home/family numbered 37,164 and accounted for 8 per cent of all non-Irish nationals. This compared to 9.7 per cent for Irish nationals.




There were 49,915 non-Irish students and pupils aged 15 and over in 2011 accounting for 10.7 per cent of all non-Irish nationals in this age group. The largest group were UK nationals (8,277 persons) followed by Poles (4,586), Chinese (3,533) and Nigerians (2,860).


Retired UK nationals


There were 19,619 retired non-Irish nationals representing 4.2 per cent of the total non-irish aged 15 and over. By far the largest group were UK nationals with 14,754 persons representing 75 per cent of all non-Irish retirees. The next largest group were German nationals with 826 retirees.




The proportion of non-Irish nationals with a degree or higher was 30.7 per cent. Indian nationals had the highest percentage of persons with a third level degree or higher (77.3%), followed by Filipinos (64.5%) and US nationals (55.9%).


Languages spoken at home


514,068 persons spoke a language other than Irish or English at home in 2011. Of these 145,919 were Irish nationals with French (41,243 persons), German (16,160) and Spanish (12,590) being the most common languages spoken in Irish homes reflecting the most popular foreign languages taught in Irish schools.

Amongst European nationals living in Ireland in 2011, Polish was the most common language with 112,811 speakers, followed by Lithuanian, Russian, Romanian and Latvian.

Lithuanian nationals had a high proportion who could not speak English well or at all (29.9%). Somalian (29.5%), Latvian (28.8%), Polish (24.5%), Brazilian (24.3%) and Chinese (23.9%) nationals also had higher than average rates who could not speak English well or at all.


Recent immigrants


The census results show that of the 53,267 persons who arrived in Ireland in the year prior to April 2011, 33,340 were non-Irish nationals. Most of the arrivals were of European nationality with the largest number being Polish (4,112) followed by UK nationals (4,072). Over two thirds were between the ages of 15 and 34. Most of these arrivals were single persons (59.7%) while 22.7 per cent were married.



For copies of the publication:


To view and download the publication, visit the CSO website at

For further information contact:

Shaun McLaughlin on (01) 895 1474

Central Statistics Office, Swords Business Campus, Balheary Road, Swords, Co. Dublin.

Census Enquiries: (01) 895 1460

Fax: 01 895 1399






Central Statistics Office                                                               04 October 2012


– ENDS –