There is good news and bad in Donegal's latest census

A detailed analysis of the latest census figures shows Donegal had the third highest increase in housing stock in the state over the period 2006-2011. The total housing stock in Donegal in 2011 was 84, 356 up from 70,526 in 2006 (19.6%).

However, the sharp economic downturn has resulted in the county now having the second highest vacancy rate in the country (28.5%).

The percentage growth in Donegal housing stock was twice as fast as the growth in population (9.3%).


The preliminary statistics were drafted by the Research and Policy Unit of Donegal County Council and are the first in a series of which will coincide with the release of volumes of the census.

The full census figures are not due until April next year.
However, based on the preliminary information currently available the Research and Policy unit has examined population and housing stock and what it means for Donegal.

A report was circulated to members of the Letterkenny Electoral Area of the council on Monday but were not discussed.

It shows the population in Donegal grew faster than the national average in the past five years and the county has a highly skilled, well educated potential workforce for foreign and direct inward investment.

Speaking to the Donegal News, Ms Loretta McNicholas, Manager of the Research and Policy Unit, said the preliminary census statistics provided vital information-data about the lives of people within the county, region and state.

“This information is vital to help us understand the challenges we face and the decisions that have to be made by local authorities, local development agencies, state agencies and communities in planning services,” Ms McNicholas said.

“The data is vital for companies who are considering investing in Donegal but it is also critical they see a critical mass and view the area as a region. There is a highly skilled, educated graduate workforce under- 30 in the region.


There are over 35,000 students in Donegal, Derry and Tyrone and in any one year over 5,500 graduate from the institutes in disciplines as varied as Business Studies, Engineering, Science, Nursing, Computing and Design. Some 44 per cent of the population of the North West Region are under 30 years. As we continue to promote the Letterkenny-Derry Gateway this type of evidence based data is vital for companies who are considering investing,”

“Firms are always looking at new markets and possibilities so it is vital we provide them with data which reflects the way people run their lives irrespective of a border in terms of population trends, health, retail, economic, travel and education al patterns,” she added.
The figures show Donegal’s population grew faster than the state over the past six years (9.3% versus 8.3%).

The county had the third highest increase in its housing stock in the state over the period with over 84, 356 dwellings. This represents an increase of 19.7 per cent since 2006 but notably, showing the sharp economic downturn, Donegal had double the vacancy rate of the state (28.5%) which equates to 24,066 houses, an increase of 5,023 since 2006.

The preliminary figures show Donegal’s population in 2011 was 160,927 of which 80,411 were male and 80,516 female. The population grew by 13,663 from the last census in 2006.

This is made up of a net migration (movement of persons into and out of the state) of 8,156 and a natural increase in the population of 5,507.
There was a faster increase in the number of females (7,222 or 9.8%) compared to males (6,441 or 8.7%).
The estimated net migration to Donegal of 8,156 was strong for the first part of the 2006-2011 intercensal period but switched to outward migration in the second half.

The population of the Border Region in 2011 was 514,152 which represented an increase of 9.8 per cent since 2006. The fastest growth rates in the population in the border counties were in Cavan (13.9%), Louth (10.4%), Leitrim (9.8%), Monaghan (8%) and Sligo (7.2%).
Seventy two per cent of electoral divisions which experienced negative growth in population were in the west and south west of the county which includes areas like Ballyshannon (-9%), Pettigo (-17%), Binbane (-14%), Doochary (-5%), Iniskeel (-10%) while Fanad dropped by five per cent.
The largest growth was in the Edenacarnan electoral division on the outskirts of Letterkenny where the population doubled from 803 to 1,604 while Corravaddy soared by 50 per cent from 656 to 981.

The Ballymacool area population also shot up by 51 per cent due to the large volume of new houses built in the area while similar trends occurred in the Letterkenny Rural area (94%) and Manorcunningham (40%).

Notably the population of Kilmacrennan grew by 20 per cent (1,532) while areas around Ballybofey such as Knock, Lettermore and Killygordon, where many housing estates sprung up during the boom shot up by between 11 and 19 per cent. The population of St Johnston rose by 17 per cent ( 1,430) while areas in Gweedore such as Magheraclogher and Meenaclady rose by between seven and nine per cent respectively.
Housing Stock

A good indicator of the housing boom in the state in the noughties is the faster increase in the number of dwellings (13.3%) over the 2006-2011 period compared to the growth in population (8.1%).

Donegal had the third highest increase in housing stock in the state over the period 2006-2011 (19.6%).
The total housing stock in Donegal in 2011 was 84, 356 up from 70,526 in 2006 (19.6%). Therefore, the percentage growth in Donegal housing stock was twice as fast as the growth in population (9.3%). Over the period the top five increases in housing stock was Laois (21.2%), Cavan (19.8%), Donegal (19.6%), Letirim (19.3%) and Longford (19%). The bottom five increases were in Limerick (9.1%), Waterford (10.5%), Dublin (10.7%), Wicklow (11.4%) and Westmeath (12.2%).
According to the figures 14.7 per cent of all houses in the state are vacant in 2011. This equates to 294,202 houses. Donegal had the second highest vacancy rate in the country in 2011 (28.5%) with 24,066 vacant houses.

The Research and Policy Unit is currently spearheading a project called SPACEial NW. As part of this project they will be colating this information for Donegal, Derry, Magherafelt and Strabane District Councils.
The staff for the SPACEial NW project includes Loretta McNicholas (Manager), Rosita Mahony as research officer with GIS, Ms Charlene Curran, Graduate Intern, Ms Marie Kerr, Clerical Officer.


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