The total number of persons (aged 3 and over) who could speak Irish in April 2016 was 1,761,420, representing 39.8 per cent of the population. This is a decrease of 13,017 on the 2011 figure of 1,774,437. More females than males identified themselves as being able to speak Irish with 968,777 female speakers (55%) compared with 792,643 males (45%), a pattern repeated from previous censuses (excluding not stated).
Map 5.1 presents the percentage of Irish speakers in each county in 2016. Galway county had the highest percentage of Irish speakers of all administrative counties (for the entire population aged 3 and over) with 49 per cent of the population indicating they could speak Irish, down 2 per cent from 2011. Clare (45.9%), Cork county (44.9%) and Mayo (43.9%) were the next highest while Dublin city (29.2%), Louth (34.1%), South Dublin (34.1%) and Cavan (34.6%) had the lowest percentages.
Interactive table: StatBank Link EA040
When examined by urban type, as presented in Figure 5.1 the results show Galway city and its suburbs had the highest rate of Irish speakers (41.4%) followed by Cork city and suburbs (40.9%). The lowest rate for a city was recorded for Dublin city and suburbs (32.8%).
Of the other urban areas, smaller towns with populations of less than 1,500 persons had the highest rate of Irish speakers at 40.8 per cent. Rural areas had the highest rates of all with 44.6 per cent of the population were able to speak Irish.
|Dublin city and suburbs||32.8|
|Cork city and suburbs||40.9|
|Limerick city and suburbs||37.6|
|Galway city and suburbs||41.4|
|Waterford city and suburbs||34.1|
|Towns under 1,000||39.8|
Of the 1,761,420 persons who answered yes to being able to speak Irish, 418,420 indicated they never spoke it, while a further 558,608 indicated they only spoke it within the education system. Of the remaining group, 586,535 persons indicated they spoke Irish less often than weekly, 111,473 spoke weekly while just 73,803 persons spoke Irish daily.
Figure 5.2 presents this data in the form of a population pyramid, showing the percentage of each age in each of the frequency categories. For males between the ages of 21 and 33, daily Irish speakers represented less than half of one per cent of the population, as can be seen from the graph. Again, there were more women (40,361) than men (33,442) among the daily Irish speakers.
The structure of the Irish speaking population can be seen by clicking on a button below:
Figure 5.3 shows the sex ratio by 5 year age group of daily Irish speakers for 2016.
Up to age 55, females outnumbered males in each age group and, in particular, female Irish speakers in their thirties and early forties were more numerous than their male counterparts. There were just 631 male daily Irish speakers for every 1,000 female daily Irish speakers in the 35-44 age group.
|Males per 1,000 females|
|65 years and over||1025|
|55 - 64 years||1054|
|45 - 54 years||771|
|35 - 44 years||631|
|25 - 34 years||685|
|20 - 24 years||831|
|15 - 19 years||830|
|10 - 14 years||895|
|5 - 9 years||919|
|3 - 4 years||917|
It's a Fact
As presented in Table 5.1, Dublin city and its suburbs had the largest absolute number of daily Irish speakers with 14,903 persons, up from 14,229 in 2011 and representing 20.2 per cent of all daily speakers. Cork, Galway and Limerick combined had 6,034 daily speakers accounting for 8.2 per cent of the total. After the cities, the largest absolute numbers of daily Irish speakers were in An Bun Beag-Doirí Beaga (771) followed by Letterkenny (525) and Swords (487).
Among cities Galway city and suburbs had the highest proportion of daily Irish speakers at 3.0 per cent, while Waterford city and suburbs had the lowest with just 0.8 per cent. Among the larger towns (population 10,000 or more), Letterkenny had the highest proportion of daily speakers (2.9%), a repeat of the 2011 findings.
|Table 5.1 Towns with the highest number of daily Irish speakers, 2016|
|Town||Number of persons aged 3+||Number of daily Irish speakers||% Daily Irish speakers|
|Dublin city and suburbs||1,127,716||14,903||1.3|
|Cork city and suburbs||201,086||2,727||1.4|
|Galway city and suburbs||77,032||2,344||3|
|Limerick city and suburbs||90,379||963||1.1|
|An Bun Beag-Doirí Beaga||1,445||771||53.4|
|An Cheathrú Rua||753||464||61.6|
Table 5.2 shows those towns with a population of less than 1,500, by number of daily Irish speakers in April 2016. With the exception of Béal Átha an Ghaorthaidh in Cork, all towns are located in Donegal or Galway. Cill Rónáin, one of Galway’s three towns on the list, is on the island of Inishmore off the Galway coast.
|Table 5.2 Towns with the highest percentage of daily Irish speakers, 2016|
|Town||County||Number of persons aged 3+||% Daily Irish speakers|
|Rann na Feirste||Donegal||302||66.6|
|An Cheathrú Rua||Galway||753||61.6|
|Bun na Leaca||Donegal||385||58.2|
|An Bun Beag-Doirí Beaga||Donegal||1,445||53.4|
|Béal Atha an Ghaorthaidh||Cork||228||42.5|
|Gort an Choirce||Donegal||178||41.6|
|Loch an lúir||Donegal||301||36.9|
Daily Irish speakers tended to be better educated than the general population with 49 per cent holding a third level degree or higher compared with just 28.5 per cent for the population generally.
|All persons||Daily Irish speakers|
|Degree or higher||28.45532||49|
|Primary (incl. no education)||12.47955||9.4|
It's a Fact
|Table 5.3 Top occupations at work that spoke Irish daily in the Gaeltacht regions, 2016|
|Primary and nursery teachers||569|
|Other administrative occupations, nec||304|
|Sales and retail assistants, cashiers and checkout operators||282|
|Care workers and home carers||239|
|Nurses and midwives||181|
There were 96,090 persons living in Gaeltacht areas in April 2016 and of these 63,664 (66.3%) indicated they could speak Irish. This is down by 2,574 persons on the 2011 figure, while the proportion who could speak Irish has also fallen from 68.5 per cent in 2011.
Of those who indicated they could speak Irish, 20,586 spoke it daily, representing 21.4 per cent of all persons aged 3 or over in these regions. A further 6,284 spoke Irish on a weekly basis while 36,794 persons living in the Gaeltacht spoke Irish less often, never or spoke Irish in the educations only or did not state the frequency they spoke Irish.
The population of the Gaeltacht area in Galway County had the largest proportion of daily Irish speakers at 29.0 per cent while Galway City had the least at 4.3 per cent. The Gaeltacht area in Cork reflected the highest proportion of weekly Irish speakers with 11.7 per cent.
The Gaeltacht boundaries are defined by The Gaeltacht Areas Orders, 1956–1982, and are in the counties of Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Meath, Mayo and Waterford.
|Cannot speak Irish, incl. not stated||Other, incl. speak Irish only in education system and not stated||Weekly||Daily|
It's a Fact
Under the Gaeltacht Act 2012, the Gaeltacht was redefined into 26 Limistéar Pleanála Teanga (LPTs), or Language Planning Areas. Of these Toraigh recorded the largest proportion of daily Irish speakers in 2016 at 74.6 per cent. Below is a table of the level of daily Irish use among the population 3 years of age or older in each LPT as of Census Night in 2016 and 2011.
|Table 5.4 Daily Irish speakers outside education system as percentage of population aged 3 years and over by LPT, 2011 - 2016|
|Population (3+ years)||Speaks Irish daily outside education system||%||Population (3+ years)||Speaks Irish daily outside education system||%|
|Ceantar na nOileán||2,193||1,436||65.5||2,057||1,474||71.7|
|An Cheathrú Rua||2,400||1,653||68.9||2,392||1,558||65.1|
|Gaoth Dobhair, Rann na Feirste, Anagaire agus Loch an Iúir||6,067||3,356||55.3||5,704||2,900||50.8|
|Cloich Chionnaola, Gort an Choirce, An Fál Carrach agus Machaire Rabhartaigh||4,187||1,859||44.4||3,903||1,546||39.6|
|An Ghaeltacht Láir||1,587||460||29.0||1,541||337||21.9|
|Ráth Chairn agus Baile Ghib||1,699||321||18.9||1,776||283||15.9|
|Dúiche Sheoigheach agus Tuar Mhic Éadaigh||3,149||563||17.9||3,088||426||13.8|
|Dún na nGall Theas||2,956||397||13.4||2,955||322||10.9|
|Tuaisceart Dhún na nGall||2,884||359||12.4||2,716||246||9.1|
|Maigh Eo Thiar||2,199||292||13.3||2,088||180||8.6|
|Maigh Eo Thuaidh||7,325||727||9.9||6,968||563||8.1|
|Bearna agus Cnoc na Cathrach||10,610||719||6.8||11,184||660||5.9|
|Oirthear Chathair na Gaillimhe||7,417||248||3.3||7,524||215||2.9|