Belfast Telegraph

Population changes mapped online

Changes in Ireland's population over the last 160 years have been mapped out online.

Two digitised atlases reveal the levels of emigration throughout the Great Famine and the partition of the island up to the Celtic Tiger boom.

Devised by the National Centre for Geocomputation (NCG) based at NUI Maynooth, the maps examine 3,452 electoral districts across the island.

NUI's Professor Stewart Fotheringham said while there has been a lot written on where Irish emigrants went and what became of them, the impact of mass emigration at the local level has not been explored until now.

"Previously we have only had broad brushstrokes, and commonly accepted perceptions, such as the west has been hit harder than the east," he said.

"What this work tells us is that the impacts of population decline are much more complex. There has been a genuinely uneven spatial imprint left behind by these population changes."

The Population Change Atlas 1841-2002 charts the overall population, while The Atlas of Irish Famine Data 1841-1851 takes a detailed look at local data during the famine. Both can be seen at http://ncg.nuim.ie/historical-atlas

The atlases chart the recent populations of all counties relative to their maximum of 1841. Leitrim is lowest at 17%, while Dublin is greatest at 303%.

Researchers at NUI Maynooth also found the average population loss during famine times was 20% - but the figure rose to 30% in all Connacht counties with many local areas in the west of Ireland losing between 40% and 60% of their populations.

Elsewhere, heavy emigration was again evident in the 1950s, with Connacht and Munster counties most affected.

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