How Cork has changed, and aged, in a decade

Cork City. Picture: Tom Coakley

Early school leaving has decreased, the divorced population is higher than national average, homelessness is rising, rents have soared, and marginalised groups need more support, writes Eoin English

The population of Cork City is ageing, its student and non-Irish population has surged but despite the recovery, pockets of the northside have fallen further into deprivation.

A mammoth new study of the city over a decade shows the rate of early school leaving has decreased, lone-parent families now account for almost a quarter of the city’s 30,000 family units, its separated and divorced population is higher than the national average, homelessness is rising, rents have soared, and groups such as Travellers, immigrants, people with disabilities, and the LGBT community are persistently at risk of social exclusion and negative health outcomes and need more support.

With a population increase of 85,000 expected as the city boundary expands, Healthy Cities co-ordinator Denise Cahill said she hopes the findings will provide useful information for those charged with the effective planning and development of services and facilities.

The Cork City Profile 2018, published by Cork Healthy Cities, used data from the 2006, 2011, and 2016 censuses to provide an overview of the health and wellbeing of the city’s population over the course of the decade.

It provides a detailed breakdown for each of the city’s 74 electoral divisions (EDs) and also includes the 16 new EDs which are due to become part of the extended city from June.

One of its key findings is that while the city’s population is growing, it is also ageing, with the population aged 85 and over, which increased by 18.3% between 2006 and 2011, rising by a further 17.1% between 2011 and 2016.

In 2006 and 2011 one in seven persons was aged 65 or over. By 2016, the ratio was one in six in the city (15.7%) and one in seven for both Cork City and suburbs.

The Fair Hill B ED, with almost a third of its population over 65, was the “oldest” ED in the city, and the 13th oldest nationally.

For each census the Bishopstown C ED had the highest number of over-65s, with that age group the fastest-growing age cohort in Cork City.

Between 2011 and 2016, Cork City recorded the largest increase (17.2%) in its non-Irish population to 2,505, with Polish people accounting for most.

The city’s student population (aged 15 and over) increased by 14.9% between 2011 and 2016 and homelessness is increasing, from 289 in January 2016 to 329 in January 2017 to 373 by January 2018.

Between 2011 and 2016, job growth increased by 9.3% across the city, with an average of 1,333 new jobs per month. Over 86%, or 5,774, were created in the south-west and south-east, with only 12% (740 jobs) created in the north-west and north-east.

Cork’s private rented sector has surged over the last decade, with rental costs for a three-bed semi-detached up 25% in just three years.

While the use of bicycles and public transport has increased, the private car is still the most dominant mode of transport for journeys for work or education.

The proportion of commuters who spend 30 minutes or more on their journey increased from 17.2% in 2006 to 21.2% in 2016, with most commuters leaving between 8.01am and 8.30am — half an hour earlier than it was in 2011 and 2006.

The Knockrea A and Bishopstown A EDs were among the five most affluent EDs for 2006, 2011, and 2016. Farranferris B, Knocknaheeny, and Fair Hill B were among those which scored highest for deprivation.

The report says that those living in more deprived areas are less likely to perceive their health to be good, and it highlights the continued challenges that communities face in terms of deprivation, coupled with social exclusion, poor health, disability, lone-parent families, low educational attainment rates, and high unemployment.

“These patterns have persisted from over the years with each census with very little change or improvement in evidence,” says the report.

The findings were discussed by various stakeholders in City Hall today, and there are plans to deliver the results in the community over the coming months.


Deaths from cardiovascular disease and cancer represented 60% of all deaths registered in 2016 across all age groups and 65% of premature deaths (under 75 years).

Among women, the leading invasive cancers remain breast, lung, and colorectal cancers.

Among males, similar trends emerge, with prostate, lung, and colorectal cancers presenting as the leading invasive cancers registered during this five year period.

Those living in more deprived areas are less likely to perceive their health to be good.


Deprivation is concentrated in pockets of the city’s northside, with Farranferris B, Knocknaheeny, and Fair Hill B electoral divisions among those scoring highest for deprivation across the 2006, 2011, and 2016 censuses. Knockrea A and Bishopstown A were among the most affluent.

Numbers in the ‘Managerial and Technical’ group increased from 22,125 in 2006 to 26,967 in 2016, with professional workers increasing by 2,494 and non-manual workers eby 2,202.

Knocknaheeny and Fair Hill A are among the top five EDs with the highest proportions of ‘unskilled’ workers.


The number of households classed as ‘Rented from private landlord’ has increased from 15.4% in 2006 to 26.3% in 2016.

Between 2014 and 2017, the cost of renting a three-bedroom semi-detached house increased by 25.1%, and by 26.9% for a two- bedroom apartment.

Most rented households are in the South East and North West of the city. About a third of households are owner-occupied with no mortgage.

Cork had the highest proportion of households renting from a local authority in 2016 and almost double that of the State.


The private car was still the most dominant mode of transport in 2016, with most commuters living in the south-east and east of the city using a car, motorcycle, or scooter.

The use of bicycles increased significantly between 2006 and 2016.

The use of public transport also increased, particularly in city centre areas with low proportions of car ownership.

The proportion of commuters who spend 30 minutes or more on their journey rose from 17.2% in 2006 to 21.2% in 2016.

The most common start time was between 8.01am and 8.30am, half an hour earlier than it was in 2011 and 2006.


Cork is a growing student city with more people staying in school for longer.

Students aged 15 and over accounted for 15.2% of the city’s population in 2016 compared to 11.4% nationally.

The figures rose from 14,251 in 2006 to 14,962 in 2011 but surged 9.4% between 2011 and 2016 to 16,374, particularly in areas around UCC and CIT.

In 2006 more than one in 10 ceased their education under the age of 15 but by 2016 the ratio was one in 20 — marginally higher than the national rate.

EDs with the highest proportions of early school leavers are concentrated in RAPID areas around the north-west of the city.


Job growth increased by 9.3% across the city between 2011 and 2016, with an average of 1,333 new jobs per month — 8.4% higher in the city than the State.

But less than 11% of that total job growth occurred in the city centre.

Most of the new jobs, over 86% or 5,774, were created in the city’s south-west and south-east sectors. New jobs in the north-west and north-east sectors accounted for less than 12% (740 jobs) of the overall growth rate. There is set to be a major shift in city-centre job creation in the coming years, with work on tens of thousands of square metres of new office space under way or planned.

The five largest employment sectors in the city are human health and social work activities (17%); retail (13%); administrative and support service activities (11%); education and professional (9%); and scientific and technical activities (9%).


Cork has younger first-time mums and a higher rate of births outside marriage when compared to national data and Dublin city.

In 2013, there were 1,488 births in Cork city, 1,531 in 2014, 1,494 in 2015, and 1,383 in 2016. For each of these years, just over half the births were ‘within marriage’ — 50.3% in 2013 and 51.6% in 2016. Nationally, the rate ranges from 64.7% in 2013 to 63.5% in 2016.

Cork city has the youngest average age of first-time mothers at 30.3 years. Nationally it is 30.9 years and in Dublin city it is 31.2 years.

Of the 1,129 persons who died in 2016 in the city, 82.5% were aged 65 or older, 400 were aged 75-84, and 344 were 85 or over.

The four main causes of death are circulatory diseases, cancer, respiratory diseases, and injuries and poisonings. Rates of cancer deaths reduced between 2011 and 2016.


The city population has increased by 4,439 (8.6%) from 2011 to 2016.

In 2016, the Gillabbey C ED had the highest proportion of single persons, 81%, almost twice that of the State.

Browningstown, off the Douglas Rd, has the highest proportion of ‘married’ people.

Gurranabraher B has had the highest proportion of separated persons — at 6% in 2016. In 2006 and 2016 it had the highest proportion of divorced.

Gillabbey C and Bishopstown A, with the highest ‘single’ populations, are in the top five for lowest proportions of separated persons.

In 2016 Fair Hill B was the ED with the highest widowed population (13.8%).

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