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Irish Travellers - Demographics

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Comparison of Irish Traveller population to general population

The total number of usually resident Irish Travellers enumerated in April 2016 was 30,987 representing 0.7 per cent of the general population. This figure was an increase of 5.1 per cent on the 2011 figure of 29,495. (Note: all analysis is based on the usually resident population. The corresponding De Facto figures in 2016 and 2011 were 31,075 and 29,573 respectively).

The population pyramid below highlights how the structure of the Irish Traveller population is very different to that of the general population, with a broad base at the younger ages and reducing sharply at higher ages. Nearly 6 in 10 (58.1%) Irish Travellers were under 25 years of age (0-24) compared to just over 3 in 10 (33.4%) in the general population.

There were 451 Irish traveller males aged 65 or over representing just 2.9 per cent of the total, significantly lower than the general population (12.6%); the equivalent figures for females were 481 persons which represented just 3.1 per cent of the total, compared with 14.1 per cent for the general population.


0Female Irish TravellerMale Irish Traveller
80 years and over0.232355503920999-0.17749378771743
75-79 years0.23558266369768-0.196856746377513
70-74 years0.484073966502082-0.409849291638429
65-69 years0.600251718462581-0.671249233549553
60-64 years1.00041953077097-0.95201213412076
55-59 years1.32313550843902-1.26181947268209
50-54 years1.92984154645497-1.65553296543712
45-49 years2.38487107496692-2.11701681350244
40-44 years2.65917965598477-2.38487107496692
35-39 years3.05289314873979-2.94639687610934
30-34 years3.98231516442379-3.37560912640785
25-29 years4.04040404040404-3.77900409849292
20-24 years4.32116694097525-4.16949043147126
15-19 years4.90528286055443-5.01500629296156
10-14 years5.69593700584116-6.17355665278988
5-9 years6.80607996901927-7.12879594668732
0-4 years6.72217381482557-7.20947494110433

Interactive table: StatBank Link E8001

It's a Fact

  • 3% - The percentage of Irish Travellers who were aged 65 or over in 2016. The equivalent rate for the general population was 13.3%
  • 39.7% - The percentage of Irish Travellers who were aged 14 or under in 2016. The equivalent rate for the general population was 21.4%

County analysis

There were significant differences in the size of the Irish Traveller community across the administrative counties.

As in 2011, Galway county had the highest number of Travellers with 2,647 persons, an increase of 6.7 per cent on the 2011 figure 2,481. This was followed by South Dublin with 2,208 persons, down 1.5 per cent on 2011.

Travellers were more urbanised than the general population with nearly 8 in 10 (78.6%) living in cities or towns (1,500 or more), compared with 62.4 per cent of the total population.

Irish Travellers in cities and towns

Dublin city and suburbs had the largest number of Irish Travellers with 5,089 persons. This was followed by Galway city and suburbs with 1,598 persons and Cork city and suburbs with 1,222.

Of the towns with 1,500 or more persons, Tuam had the highest number of Irish Travellers with 737 persons, followed by Longford with 730 persons.

Navan, Mullingar, Dundalk and Ballinasloe all had 500 or more Irish Travellers in 2016. 

Table 1.1 Top 15 towns (1,500+ persons)/cities by usually resident Irish Traveller population, 2016
City/TownNumber of Irish Travellers
Dublin City and suburbs5,089
Galway City and suburbs1,598
Cork City and suburbs1,222
Navan (An Uaimh)668
Limerick City and suburbs501
Waterford City and suburbs367
Total PopulationIrish Travellers

Interactive table: StatBank Link E8002

It's a Fact

  • 78.6% - The percentage of Irish Travellers in urban areas. The comparable rate for the general population is 62.4%.

Irish Traveller marital status

Figure 1.3 presents marital status by age.  Among the general population 5.8 per cent of 15-29 year olds were married, compared with 3 in 10 (31.9%) of the Irish Traveller population. There were 201 married 15-19 year olds, down from 250 in 2011.

The divorce rate among Irish travellers was 2.2 per cent, compared with 4.7 per cent for the general population. The percentage of Irish travellers who were separated had fallen in 2016 to 10.4 per cent, down from 12.1 per cent in 2011.

Age groupTotal married populationTotal married Irish Travellers
15-19 years0.2182843707069646.53871177618738
20-24 years2.4123287871478941.4671227670087
25-29 years14.545699060298953.6937680561288
30-34 years40.772705297327261.7982456140351
35-39 years57.889533435536363.743948359333
40-44 years64.621216359872463.275751759437
45-49 years66.894299469504266.4516129032258
50-54 years67.945388167436364.3564356435644
55-59 years68.796602764881463.6704119850187
60-64 years69.233764276384165.4545454545455
65-69 years68.254464201177863.1979695431472
70-74 years64.792447249063362.4548736462094
75-79 years55.672183394389744.0298507462687
80-84 years42.819946444216830.6666666666667
85-89 years28.516.6666666666667
90+ years14.925

Irish Traveller households

Nationally there was a 12.3 per cent increase in the number of Irish Traveller households (defined as households containing at least one Irish Traveller), rising from 7,765 in 2011 to 8,717 in 2016.

Of these 7,424 were classified as family households representing (85.2%) compared with 70.2 per cent of the general population.

Figure 1.4 illustrates other differences between Irish Traveller households and the general population. There were more than 3 times as many multiple family Traveller households (4.2% compared with 1.3%), more lone parents with children (17.9% compared with 11.7%) and fewer married couples without children (8.9% compared with 15.7%). Just over 1 in 10 (11%) Irish Travellers were living in one person households compared with almost 1 in 4 (23.5%) in the general population.

Household% General Population% Irish Travellers
One person23.510.9670758288402
Married couple15.78.91361707009292
Cohabiting couple4.439315246118852.05345875874728
Married couple with children32.69114038257643.9371343352071
Cohabiting couple with children4.306046628073688.14500401514282
Lone parents with children11.717.9190088333142
Multiple families1.299856162005514.19869221062292
Non family6.298521704421193.86600894803258

Household size

Irish traveller households comprising of a married couple with children had an average of 5.3 persons per household compared with 4.1 for the general population.

Figure 1.5 illustrates how there are proportionally fewer one and two person Irish Traveller households compared with the general population. More than 1 in 4 Irish Traveller households had 6 or more persons compared with less than 1 in 20 households in the State overall.

Household SizeGeneral populationIrish Traveller

Interactive table: StatBank Link E8047

It's a Fact

  • 8,717 - The number of Irish Traveller households (containing at least one Irish Traveller)
  • 31.9% - The percentage of 15-29 year old Irish Travellers who were married

Fertility among female population

Among Traveller women aged 40-49 (the age by which women have typically completed their fertility) 13.3 per cent had not given birth to a child - compared with 18.3 per cent of women generally. Nearly half had given birth to 5 or more children, in stark contrast to just under 1 in 20 (4.2%) of women overall in this age group.

Number of childrenGeneral population Irish Travellers
No children18.273992052480713.3077415227127
1 child13.73288912061795.24632117722329
2 children30.5092833976977.2296865003199
3 children22.163504449491412.2200895713372
4 children8.8851380211325114.1394753678823
5 children2.626098380744513.4357005758157
6 children0.91611508290694211.2603966730646
7 children0.3355161027109356.65387076135637
8 children0.1393319724163935.31030070377479
9 or more children0.1558279353240437.80550223928343
Not stated2.262303484477593.39091490722969

Interactive table: StatBank Link E8044

It's a Fact

  • 4.2% - The percentage of Irish Traveller Households with 9 or more persons in 2016
  • 0.1% - The percentage of General population Households with 9 or more persons in 2016