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Census 2011 Results

Profile 7 Religion, Ethnicity and Irish Travellers – Ethnic and Cultural Background in Ireland.


The Central Statistics Office today released the latest publication in its series of Census 2011 results, showing that the proportion of the population who were Catholics reached its lowest point in 2011 at 84.2 per cent, while its congregation, at 3.86 million strong, was the highest since records began.


Today’s publication, “Profile 7 Religion, Ethnicity and Irish Travellers – Ethnic and Cultural Background in Ireland”, presents a profile of the various religions in Ireland along with more detailed results on ethnicity, and Irish Travellers in particular.


Deirdre Cullen, Senior Statistician at the CSO: “This report provides further analysis of two important themes from the census 2011 results. Firstly it examines religion, looking in detail at the members of different religions, and those who have no religion in Ireland from the point of recent changes, occupations, level of education and other factors. The second major theme in this report is ethnicity with particular focus on the Irish Traveller population looking in detail at aspects such as marital and family status, household size, education, economic status, disability and living conditions.”


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 “This report again underlines the fact that Ireland has an increasingly diverse population where changing cultures and religious beliefs play an important part. The report provides yet more analysis and results from census 2011 on these themes and contains important information on Ireland’s largest indigenous ethnic 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



The twenty years between 1991 and 2011 has seen significant increases in the non-Catholic population driven by not only growing numbers with no religion but also large increases in the religions of immigrants from Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia. The proportion of the population who were Catholics continued to decline in 2011, to reach its lowest point at 84.2 per cent, while its congregation, at 3.86 million strong, was the highest since records began.



Of the 3.8 million Catholics in Ireland in 2011, 92 per cent were Irish while the remaining 8 per cent belonged to a range of nationalities. Among the non-Irish, Poles were the biggest group with 110,410 persons, followed by the UK with 49,761 and between them they accounted for over half of all non-Irish Catholics.

There were 64,798 divorced Catholics in Ireland in April 2011 of which 27,468 were males and 37,330 were females.


No Religion

The total of those with no religion, atheists and agnostics increased more than four-fold between 1991 and 2011 to stand at 277,237 in 2011. This group included 14,769 primary school aged children and 14,478 of secondary school age. There were 4,690 children aged under one year who had no religion.


Church of Ireland

There were 129,039 members of the Church of Ireland in April 2011, an increase of 6.4 per cent on 2006. This included 13,667 primary school aged children and 8,809 of secondary school age. One in ten Church of Ireland workers had occupations in agriculture and related activities.



There were 49,204 Muslims in Ireland in April 2011, a sharp rise on five years previously. Ireland’s Muslim population included 8,322 primary school aged children and 3,582 of secondary school age. Since 1991, the number of Muslims increased from just 0.1 to 1.1 per cent of the total population.


Orthodox Christianity

There were 45,223 Orthodox Christians in Ireland in April 2011 - more than double the number five years earlier (20,798) and more than four times the number recorded in 2002 (10,437).


Other religions

The number of Presbyterians in Ireland in April 2011 stood at 24,600, up marginally on 2006 and continuing a pattern of increasing numbers since 2002 following long periods of decline up to 1991.

The Apostolic and Pentecostal members in Ireland numbered 8,116 in 2006 and 14,043 in 2011. Over 60 per cent (8,486) had African ethnicity in 2011 while 18.1 per cent (2,546) indicated their ethnicity as “Any other White background”.

Census 2011 shows that there were 10,688 Hindus in Ireland in 2011, showing a tenfold increase since 1991. Hindus were younger than the general population with an average age for men of 28.9 and for women of 26.7 compared with 35.5 and 36.8 for the general population.

Other religions in total accounted for 98,643 persons in 2011 or 2.1 per cent of the de facto population at that time.

The largest single religion recorded in the above group was Buddhist with 8,703 persons. Over one third(37.9%) were Irish by nationality. There were 6,842 Methodists recorded in 2011, while Jehovah’s Witness made up the next largest religion with 6,149 persons in 2011. Lutheran (5,683 persons),

Evangelical (4,188), and Baptist (3,531) religions all had greater than 3,000 persons in 2011. The Jewish religion recorded 1,984 persons in 2011 up from 1,930 persons in 2006.


The Irish Traveller population

The total number of Irish Travellers enumerated in April 2011 was 29,573 - accounting for just over half of one per cent (0.6%) of the total population. Galway County had the highest number of Travellers of all administrative counties with 2,476 persons, followed by South Dublin with 2,216. In contrast there were only 152 Travellers enumerated in Waterford County.


Age and Marital Status

The average age of all Irish Travellers was 22.4 compared with 36.1 for the general population, and over half of all Travellers (52.2%) were aged under 20.

Among 15 – 29 year olds 33 per cent of Travellers were married compared with just 8.2 per cent of the general population. There were 252 married 15-19 year olds of which 91 were males and 161 were females.


Families and Households

27% of Irish Traveller women had had 5 or more children compared with just 2.6 per cent of women overall. Just over an eighth (13%) of Irish Traveller women had had 7 or more children, compared with 0.4 per cent of women generally.

In 2011, 26.4 per cent of Irish Traveller households had 6 or more persons compared with only 4.4 per cent of all households in the State.

The family composition of Irish Traveller households was different to those of the general population. There were proportionally more lone parent households (20.5% compared with 11.9%), fewer cohabiting couples without children (2.1% compared with 5%) and more households with more than one family (2.5% compared with 1.1%).



Seven out of ten Travellers (69%) were educated to Primary level at most, including 507 persons aged between 15 and 19. The number of Irish Travellers who completed third level in 2011 was 115 or one per cent. This compares with 30.7 per cent of the general population excluding Irish Travellers.



Unemployment in the Irish Traveller community was 84.3 per cent in 2011, up from 74.9 per cent five years earlier. Out of a total labour force of 9,973, 86.6 per cent of the 5,829 males were unemployed while 81.2 per cent of the 4,144 women were without work. The labour force participation rate among Travellers was 57.3 per cent compared with 61.9 per cent for the general population.



Irish Travellers had higher rates of disability than the general population. In 2011, 17.5 per cent of Irish Travellers had one or more disabilities compared with 13 per cent for the State as a whole. Amongst Irish Travellers, the most common type of disability was ‘difficulty with pain, breathing or any other chronic illness’ (7.7%).


Living conditions

Irish Traveller households have a significantly lower home ownership rate than the general population with 1 in 5 (20.2%) households owning their home compared with 69.7 per cent for the general population.

The average number of rooms in Irish Traveller households was 4.3 compared with an average of 5.5 rooms for all private households in 2011. Almost 1 in 3 Traveller households (30.3%) with a total of 886 persons who were living in mobile or temporary accommodation had no sewerage facilities in 2011.


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                                                               18 October 2012


– ENDS –