Ireland's population has risen above 5m for the first time since 1851.
Figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) on Tuesday show how the combination of positive net migration and natural increase gave population growth of 34,000 in the year to April 2021 to push the population to an estimated 5.01m.
The figures also show that while the world was in lockdown, there was a strong flow of Irish nationals returning to live here, that almost 30% of the population now lives in Dublin, and our population of over 65s has risen by almost 20% since 2016, with one in seven of our population now aged 65 or over.
The data is contained in the CSO’s Population and Migration Estimates report for the year April 2020 to April 2021 which was published on Tuesday.
The figures for the period show that just over 65,000 people immigrated to Ireland, with an estimated 30,200, or just over 46% of them, returning Irish nationals – the highest number of returning Irish nationals since 2007.
The reports shows there were 645,500 non-Irish nationals living here last April, accounting for one in eight (12.9%) of the total population, the population of Dublin was estimated to be 1.43m, representing 28.5% of the total population, and there were 742,300 people aged 65 and over, an increase of 112,500, or just under 18%, since April 2016.
There were 55,500 births and 32,700 deaths in the year to April, giving a natural increase in the population of 22,800. But it’s the lowest level of natural increase recorded since the 2000 population estimates.
A breakdown of the figures shows the number of immigrants to the State in the year to last April was estimated at 65,200, while the number of emigrants during the same period was about 54,000, showing more people arrived than left.
Irish nationals accounted for 30,200, or 46.3%, of the 65,200 immigrants to Ireland – the highest number of returning Irish nationals since 2007.
Of the 54,000 emigrants from Ireland, 22,800, or 42.2%, were Irish nationals, showing more Irish nationals returned to live here than left to live abroad.
An estimated 35,000 non-Irish nationals arrived to live here during the period, and 31,200 non-Irish nationals emigrated, to give a positive net migration among non-Irish nationals of 3,900 – down a staggering 28,300, or 86.2%, on the previous year.
There were strong migration flows to and from the UK during the year, with 18,200 people leaving Ireland to live in the UK, up from 10,000 last year.
The majority of migrants were aged between 25-44 and had a 3rd level qualification.
The number of non-Irish nationals living in Ireland increased during the period by 1,100 to 645,500, to now account for just under 13% of the total population.
The Dublin region experienced weak growth in the year, increasing its population by just 8,300 but the population aged 65 and over increased by 22,200 in the year to April 2021.
And there were 742,300 people living in Ireland aged 65 and over in April 2021 – an increase of 112,500 (+17.9%) since April 2016.
CSO statistician James Hegarty said because the data covers the 12 months to April 2021, the results reflect some of the demographic and social impacts of Covid-19.
"Ireland's population was estimated to be 5.01m in April 2021, which is the first time the population has risen above 5m since the 1851 census, when the comparable population was 5.11m,” he said.
The total population on the island of Ireland in 1851 was 6.6m.