Irish Traveller and Catholic population in Laois is on the increase

Laois highlights from from Census 16 Irish Travellers, Ethnicity and Religion 

Irish Traveller and Catholic population is Laois is on the increase

The number of Travellers living in Laois has risen while the county has bucked the national trend of decline in Catholicism, according to latest figures from Census 2016.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) today (Thursday 12 October) publishes Census 2016 Profile 8 Irish Travellers, Ethnicity and Religion. The figures also reveal that neighbouring Offaly has the highest percentage of Catholics in Ireland. Another midland county has the lowest percentage of people with no religion. 

It found that there were 761 Irish Travellers enumerated in the county in April 2016. This was an increase of 100 (15.1%) on the number in 2011 (661). They made up just under 1 in 100 (0.9%) of the county’s population, compared with 0.7% at national level.

There were slightly more male (384) than female (377) Travellers. Over half (53.9%) of all Travellers in the county were aged under 20, compared to just over 3 in 10 (30.9%) of the county’s overall population.

Read more below table

As for ethnicity, in April 2016, those who indicated a “White Irish” ethnic or cultural background amounted to 70,413 people (83.4% of the county’s population), an increase of 1,705 on 2011.

The next largest grouping – “Any Other White background” accounted for 6,969 persons (8.3%), an increase of 622.

Those with “Black or Black Irish (African/any other Black background)” comprised 1,634 persons (1.9%) while 1,191 persons (1.4%) indicated an “Asian or Asian Irish (Chinese/any other Asian background)”.

A further 1,006 (1.2%) stated they were of “Other, including mixed background” while 2,416 (2.9%) did not state their ethnic/cultural background.

Catholicism remains the predominant religion, accounting for 82.5% (69,877) of Laois’s population in April 2016. This was a slight increase on the 69,422 persons five years previously. The average age of Catholics in the county was 36.0 years, compared with the county’s overall average age of 35.6 years.

As with the State overall, the next largest group was those with no religion. In 2011, the 2,581 people with no religion comprised 3.2% of the county’s population. By 2016, this had increased to 4,755 people comprising 5.6% of the county’s population. Their average age was 33.0 years, making them 2.6 years younger on average than the county’s population overall.

The 3,292 Church of Ireland members in the county made up 3.9% of its total population. On average, Church of Ireland members in Laois were 4.3 years older (39.9 years) than the overall population in the county.

Muslims (1,072) and Orthodox (827) completed the top five.

Read more below chart

Above summary of some of the headline results from Census 2016 for Co Laois, together with comparisons for Leinster and the State as a whole are attached for information.

Nationally the report shows that the number of Irish Travellers stood at 30,987, representing 0.7% of the general population in April 2016.

The report also details how both  the proportion and total number of Catholics have fallen nationally since 2011, with Catholics comprising 78.3% of the population in April 2016, down from 84.2% in 2011, while the number of people with no religion
(including atheists and agnostics) increased by 73.6% to stand at 481,388 in 2016.

Deirdre Cullen, Senior Statistician, commented: “This report, the eighth of eleven thematic reports of Census 2016 results, provides further insight into the demographic structure of our population, this time looking at religion, ethnicity and Irish Travellers.

"These themes are examined by age, social class, and household composition. As always all of this information is available on, where users can also access detailed data for their own area.”

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