Ireland’s population tops 5M for first time since Potato Famine


Ireland’s population tops 5M for first time since Potato Famine
Ireland's population was estimated at 5.01 million in April. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Ireland’s population has hit 5 million for the first time in 170 years — a time when the great Potato Famine ravaged the country.

The republic’s population was estimated at 5.01 million in April, the highest since the 1851 census estimated 5.11 million people, the Central Statistics Office announced in a news release on Tuesday.

“It should be noted that this release covers the 12 months to April 2021,” statistician James Hegarty said in a statement. “Therefore, the results contained in this release reflect some of the demographic and social impacts of COVID-19.”

More than 5,000 have died from COVID during the pandemic, according to the Ireland Department of Health’s website.

A million people died and countless more left the country amid the famine, also called the Great Hunger, from 1845-1852, according to The Irish Post.

More than 8 million lived on the island in the early 1800s, including Northern Ireland, but the population never bounced back since the famine, the Post said.

Ireland’s population tops 5M for first time since Potato Famine
More than 5,000 people in Ireland have died from COVID-19.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

The country’s population dipped to a low of 2.8 million in 1961, the CSO stated.

The total population of the entire island of Ireland in 1951 was 6.6 million, the office said in a release. The country’s population had dipped to a low of 2.8 million in 1961.

With the latest increase, the population of the island is now above 6.8 million, when including Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.

Ireland’s population tops 5M for first time since Potato Famine
More than 8 million lived in Ireland in the early 1800s.
Getty Images

Driving the republic’s growth was 62,500 people immigrating into the country – an estimated 30,200 who were Irish nationals returning home, according to the CSO. That’s the most since 2007, Hegarty told news source RTE.

About 54,000 people in total emigrated out over the same span, the data show.

Domestic births of 55,000 outpaced 32,700 deaths from April 2020 to April 2021, the release stated.