Wednesday 16 November 2022

Release date for the 1926 Census of Ireland announced

The Irish Government has today announced that the 1926 Census of Ireland will be released online and free in April 2026. The project will be carried out by the National Archives of Ireland.

This is music to many Irish genealogists ears because, with the clock ticking down and no official word about the necessary digitisation getting underway, many researchers had become a bit twitchy about whether its publication would be on time. We had false promises from politicians back in 2016 about an early release, and we've signed petitions a-plenty since, but at least we can now look forward to the timely arrival of the material. It won't be early. It will be on time.

Some €5M in state funding is being provided for the digitisation and publication project, which will involve the release of more than 700,000 individual return sheets containing data from the 26 Republic of Ireland counties (see map right - the coloured counties make up RoI).

The 1926 Census was the first census undertaken following the foundation of the state, and gathered information on the population's age, occupation, religion, housing and use of the Irish language.

It was taken on 18 April 1926, when the population stood at 2,971,992, down 5.3% on the previous census in 1911. Only County Dublin recorded an increase in its number of inhabitants; all other counties recorded a loss.

In 1926, a total of 92.6% of the population was Catholic and 18.3% could speak Irish. Of those employed, 51% were in agricultural occupations, 4% were fisherman, 14% were in manufacturing and 7% were domestic servants. Very different times. Details are available at the Central Statistics Office website.

Speaking at the official announcement today, Catherine Martin, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, said: "The €5M funding will provide for the complex, time consuming and multistage process to digitise all of the information collected by the first census of the Irish State. I am confident that work will be completed in time for release 100 years after the census was taken.

"Given the success of the digitised 1901 and 1911 census returns, I’m sure that the 1926 Census will be equally as popular and have a significant global reach once released. The census is a fundamental part of our national heritage and collective knowledge.”