1861 Census: Decline in the Population of Ireland
From Thom's Almanac and Official Directory, 1862
Decline of the population in Ireland.—The people of Ireland in 1851 proved to be 1,622,739 less numerous than in 1841, a diminution commonly attributed to the famine consequent on the potato failure in 1845 and subsequent years. The mortality of that period having been concentrated in workhouses and temporary hospitals, and having ravaged some portions of the country, in which disease prevailed with extraordinary virulence, the great loss of population has been usually accounted for by estimating the deaths generally according to their extent in the severely visited localities; but the Mortality Returns, founded on the Census of 1851, show that the deaths from 1841 were not, in the aggregate, excessive. In the emigration to America, migration to Great Britain, and the decrease of births, the causes of decline are to be found.
Of the children living in 1841 and 1851, the Census of each period supplies the following totals of the number born within twelve months preceding :—
1841 1851 Leinster 46,348 34,451 Munster 61,389 34,653 Ulster 57,466 42,875 Connaught 37,263 20,613 TOTAL 202,466 132,592
The decrease of children living in 1851, aged from one month to a year, was, as compared with the enumeration of 1841, so much as 69,874; and the decline in the number of births was operating from 1841.
Of children living in 1841 and 1851, aged from 1 to 9 years, the Census Reports contain the following enumerations, which show a decrease between 1841 and 1851, of 585,322: —
1841 1851 Born in 1840 158,958 Born in 1850 106,192 Born in 1839 230,804 Born in 1849 141,638 Born in 1838 218,149 Born in 1848 118,271 Born in 1837 219,148 Born in 1847 145,678 Born in 1836 216,888 Born in 1846 152,206 Born in 1835 218,688 Born in 1845 161,803 Born in 1834 221,712 Born in 1844 165,426 Born in 1833 222,504 Born in 1843 170,081 Born in 1832 196,413 Born in 1842 156,647 TOTAL
Until 1847, emigration did not materially reduce the population. In that year 215,444 persons emigrated to America and the Colonies, being more than double the number of the emigrants in 1846. In the ten years, from June, 1841, to March, 1851, there emigrated 1,240,737 persons, which materially lessened the number of children to be enumerated in 1851; but this only in part accounts for the great diminution of births after 1841.
The Census Report for 1851 contains a Table showing that if births had taken place in the ratio of 1 to 31 of the population, annually, as in England (without an emigration), the number of children born in Ireland from 1841 to 1851 would have been 2,711,814; and the population in the latter year would have been 9,018,799, instead of 6,552,885. In this calculation, allowance is made for 1,868,139 deaths; estimating the mortality in the ratio of 1 to 45 of the population in each year; and the births would have thus exceeded the deaths by 843,675.
The actual number of deaths from 1841 to 1851, as ascertained in making the Census, amounted to 1,361,051, and the deaths from extraordinary causes did not amount to one third of this total, thus :—
|Deaths from Fever||222,029||Dysentry and Diarrhoea||134,555||Total 414,343|
A large proportion of the deaths from such causes occurred in the years of famine, and the mortality in those years was, therefore, excessive; but the total for ten years is not in excess of the ordinary ratio of deaths, even in a declining population, taking the mean of the numbers of the people in 1841 and 1851.
The Census of 1861 gives the population as 5,764,543, being 787,842 less than that of 1851, or a decrease of 12.02 per cent, in the last ten years. During this period as many as 1,163,418 persons emigrated from Ireland.
NUMBER of EMIGRANTS who left each County in Ireland, from the 1st of May, 1851, to the 31st of December, 1860. (Please note that you can adjust the magnification of the table by clicking on the `view' option on your browser and selecting a larger text size).
Emigrants who left each County in Ireland, from 1st May, 1851, to the
31st of December, 1860
left each county
|Number of Emigrants||No. of Emigrants
1st May, 1851,
to 31st Dec., 1860