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Ethnic or cultural background

The population of the State grew at 0.8 per cent per annum while those with Irish ethnicity increased by just 0.2 per cent. The fastest growing ethnic group since 2011 was “Other incl. mixed background”, with an annualised growth of 14.7 per cent.  “Any other White background” rose by 1.6 per cent annually while Africans decreased 0.3 per cent per annum.

The largest group in 2016 was “White Irish” with 3,854,226 (82.2%) usual residents. This was followed by “Any other White background” (9.5%), non-Chinese Asian (1.7%) and “Other incl. mixed background” (1.5%).

Irish Travellers (30,987) made up 0.7 per cent of the usually resident population while Chinese (19,447) made up just 0.4 per cent. 

Ethnic groupAverage annual growth rate
Total population0.7
Irish Traveller1
Any other White Background1.6
Any other Black background1.2
Any other Asian background3.5
Other(Incl mixed background)11.6

Interactive table: StatBank Link E8001

Ethnic or cultural background by age

The age and sex profile of each different ethnic group is displayed in an interactive population pyramid in Figure 3.2. The age profile of 'white Irish' persons is the narrowest of the groups. The 'white Irish Traveller' age profile has a much more pronounced pyramid shape as discussed earlier in the report.

The age profiles of the other ethnic groups mostly reflect patterns of immigration over the last 20 years. When looking at the chart of persons with a 'Chinese' ethnic or cultural background the spike of persons aged 20-24 is apparent which can be explained by the large proportion of persons of 'Chinese' ethnicity studying here.

The age break down of different ethnic or cultural backgrounds can be seen by clicking an option below:


The majority (94.1%) of people who indicated that they were 'White Irish'  were born in Ireland. Of the 5.9 per cent (226,078) born elsewhere, 121,174 were born in England and Wales and 53,915 were born in Northern Ireland. A further 20,301 were born in the Americas, of which 17,017 were born in the United States of America. In comparison, 92.5 per cent of Irish Travellers were born in Ireland.

One in three of those with African ethnicity (38.6%) were born in Ireland (22,331 persons), as were 31.3 per cent (2,126) of those with other Black backgrounds.

The remaining Africans were born primarily in Nigeria which accounted for 27.2 per cent. Those of “Any other Black background” were born in a range of countries including Brazil (17.4%), England and Wales (7.1%) and Mauritius (3.2%). Over half (55.7%) of people with Chinese ethnicity were born in China, while 8.3 per cent were born in Malaysia and 6.4 per cent were born in Hong Kong.

The largest group from “Any other Asian background” were born in India (22.4%), followed by the Philippines (16.1%) and Pakistan (13.7%).

Interactive table: StatBank Link E8005

Nationality and Ethnicity

The strong connection between nationality and ethnicity previously seen in census results is less apparent in census 2016, as illustrated in Figure 3.3. Large increases can be seen in the number and proportion of Irish nationals with an ethnicity other than White Irish. These changes may be explained by the increase in persons granted Irish citizenship since 2011 and by the large increase in those with dual Irish nationality.

The number of persons with a dual Irish nationality almost doubled to 104,784 in Census 2016 from 55,905 in 2011. Persons may identify as having a dual nationality based on what citizenship they hold, where they were born, where they live or where their parents are from.

Looking at these 104,784 persons, Irish-Americans (81.8%), Irish-Canadians (79.4%) and Irish-UK persons (71.5%) were most likely to identify as 'white Irish'. On the other hand, Irish-Polish persons were most likely to identify as 'Any other White Background' (77.8%).

There were 10,100 dual Irish nationals who identified themselves as 'Black or Black Irish - African', the largest group of which was Irish-Nigerian nationals (6,683 persons).

Interactive table: StatBank Link E8004

Ethnic or Cultural BackgroundNo nationality (incl. not stated)Non-Irish nationalsIrish nationals
White Irish 201617975188983817353
White Irish 201120228229393778828
White Irish Traveller 201676835729862
White Irish Traveller 201177931528401
Any other white background 2016297538343960313
Any other white background 2011324137737432360
Black or black Irish - African 20168821713439834
Black or black Irish - African 201111443440323150
Black or black Irish - Any other black background 201611438122863
Black or black Irish - Any other black background 201113935942648
Asian or Asian Irish - Chinese 2016210114777760
Asian or Asian Irish - Chinese 2011266130974469
Asian or Asian Irish - Any other Asian background 20166643446044149
Asian or Asian Irish - Any other Asian background 20115904969116577
Other incl mixed background 20168083903130764
Other incl mixed background 20115472612614051