First UK Census of Ireland

28th May 1821
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Although the first census of the UK took place in 1801, Ireland was not included. The first full census of Ireland (as part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland) was taken in 1821.

Under the government of the UK, a full census of Ireland took place at ten-yearly intervals from 1821 through to 1911.  

From 1841 householders themselves filled out the return form, making these records a unique snapshot of early 19th century lives of ordinary 19th century Irish people. Both 1841 and 1851, very unusually, also recorded those who had moved away or died since the last census. This makes the 1851 census, in particular, a rich resource for those researching the Famine.  The censuses from 1851 to 1911 were taken under the supervision of the Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages. 

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Due to the War of Independence, No census was taken in 1921. 

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The first census of the population of the Irish Free State was taken in 1926 under the newly established Statistics Branch of the Department of Industry and Commerce  – now the Central Statistics Office (http://www.cso.ie/).

 

CENSUS ARCHIVES LOST

Census returns for 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851 were destroyed in 1922 in the fire at the Public Record Office at the beginning of the Civil War.  Only fragments for a few counties (for 1821 and 1831) survived. 

Census returns for 1861 and 1871 were destroyed shortly after they were taken. Those for 1881 and 1891 were pulped during the First World War (probably because of the paper shortage).  

 

CENSUS ARCHIVES AVAILABLE TO RESEARCHERS 

The 1821 census survives for parts of the following counties: Cavan, Fermanagh, Galway, King’s (Offaly) and Meath.

The 1831 census survives for parts of Londonderry (Derry).

The 1841 census survives for Killashandra, County Cavan.

The 1851 census survives for parts of County Antrim.

The 1901 census is the first complete census available for Ireland. Census returns for 1901 and 1911 for all 32 counties can be searched ONLINE at the National Archives (no charge).

The 1926 Census Returns are due for release in January 2027. 

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