The census data from 2011 is out, and the Irish Times recently reported on some of the findings. Here’s a few interesting bits:

“The population of the Irish State is now higher than at any time since the immediate aftermath of the Great Hunger in the 1850s” – we’ve just reached 4.6 million. If it hadn’t been for the famine, there could be 17 million living here.

The birth rate in Ireland is one of the highest in Europe at 2.1 (one factor is probably that abortion is not legal in Ireland, but is legal in the rest of Europe).

17% of residents in Ireland are foreign-born, mostly from Europe. The EU average is 6.5%.

1.77 million people said that they could speak Irish, an increase of 7.1%.

Half of family units are married couples with kids, 70% are married, and 10% cohabit (an 18% increase in 5 years). Same-sex couples increased by 100% to just over 4,000. Marital breakdown (separated and divorced) is just up to 10% of those ever married.

Since the last census in 2006, the Catholic Church increased in numbers, but as a percentage of the population dropped from 86.8% to 84% overall (3.86 million people). There was a 44.8% increase in the next largest religious group – those claiming no religion (269,811 people). On top of that, there was a 320.3% increase in those calling themselves Atheists (now 3,905 people). Orthodox Christians increased by 117.4% (to 45,223, reflecting immigration from eastern Europe), and a 51.2% increase in the Muslim population (to 49,204).