Ireland’s Population Rises To Modern High

Ireland's Population Rises to Modern High

Published: July 19, 2006
Filed at 10:32 p.m. ET

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) — Ireland's population has surged this year to a modern high of more than 4.2 million people largely because of immigrants from the newest European Union nations, a government report said Wednesday.

The government's Central Statistics Office said preliminary results for the April census put the population at 4,234,925 — an increase of 8.1 percent in just the past four years.

The report said about 400,000 people living in Ireland are foreign-born, nearly double the figure from the last major census in 2002.

The Irish Republic, founded in 1922, had suffered declining population because of mass emigration until the 1960s. It has experienced its first immigration wave since the so-called Celtic Tiger economy took off in the mid-1990s.

Historically, however, the total population of Ireland remains at least 2 million below the estimated 8.5 million who lived on the island in the first half of the 19th century. The Potato Famine of 1847-51, when a rotting blight deprived peasants of their major food source, killed about 1 million people and forced 2 million to emigrate.

The total population on the island — combining the republic's 4.2 million with the 1.7 million inhabitants of the British territory of Northern Ireland — today remains below 6 million.