Boy, we had us a whopping week of celebrations. There isn't a child in the country who can't now recite the Proclamation, nor an adult that cannot name everyone who fought in the GPO in 1916. We can all quote Yeats and Pearse, Connolly and Casement. We can sing songs that weren't sung in a century, and we can recite thumping great chunks of poetry that would make a bishop blush. We are all card-carrying nationalists, or historians, or enthusiasts after this week's centenary celebrations. But honestly, a century on, I'm asking myself, 'Who are the Irish today?'
Are we the dreamers of dreams? Are we the most successful economy in Europe, with the fastest growing GDP? Are we a nation hopelessly deep in debt, with almost €205 billion of National Debt, equivalent to 100% of our GDP? Are we a nation of savers, with nearly €90 billion of ordinary peoples money on deposit in our banks?
Are house prices and rental costs rising again to Celtic Tiger levels? Are there hundreds of homeless in Dublin? Are 97,000 home mortgages over 12 months in arrears? Can we remember and understand every word of the National Anthem? Do we know the Queen's birthday? Do we have a government? Are 10% of us really atheists? Is our population really declining?
Aren't we Irish just a continuous conundrum?
On April 24th (co-incidentally the exact 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising), Ireland will conduct a National Census, or Census 2016. In this census, on that exact night, we will get a proper snapshot of everyone living in the 26 counties comprising the Republic of Ireland. We will know by the end of July just exactly how many of us there are and other key markers, including ethnic origin, religion, gender, relationships, and much, much more. These figures will help us plan and provide for our population in the coming decades, and, of course, give us an idea of who we really are.
You readers may be familiar with the 1901 and 1911 Irish censuses, whose facts and records are available free online for research and historical purposes. Those are the only census results that we the public can view and chew on. All other census results (held every 10 or 5 years) will only become available on their own 100-year anniversaries. The next census that we will be able to view fully will be the 1927 census, which we can access January 1st, 2027. . . Yes, and surely it will be worth the wait.
In the meantime, just to whet your appetite and give you some food for thought, here are a few statistics that you may not be aware of as regards today's Ireland.
This graphic shows 34 countries ranked by 'percentage of native-born population living abroad,' with Ireland leading the way at 17.5%. New Zealand and Portugal at 14% follow, along with Mexico at 12%. (The USA has 0.5% of its native population living abroad, by the way).
This second Image shows that approximately 13% of the people living in Ireland now were born outside of Ireland (including my three children). Some 400,000 Irish-born folk live in the United Kingdom, and inversely, our largest ethnic minority in Ireland, is British (112,548).
We are changed, changed utterly, but still doing much the same as we always did.
Oh, and just a word to the wise. If you spend the night of April 24th in Ireland, we will count you as one of us, so maybe it might be a good time to look up Aer Lingus and come here to be with your ancestors, and be a true Irish man or woman at last!
Put that in your pipe and smoke it! Brian Nolan
(Statistics - Census Ireland) see www.census.ie
Such figures are just grist to the mill to me as a walking tour guide in Galway, Ireland. I love these snippets of information and of course cannot wait to tell you these tidbids and more on my walking tours of Galway. www.galwaywalks.com firstname.lastname@example.org