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The CSO Census of Population 2022 -Summary Results were published on 30 May 2023.  The WDC Policy Analysis team has prepared a short report highlighting key statistics for the Western Region and its counties in this first overview Census publication.  Our report focuses on indicators of most relevance to the Western Region and WDC work. These include population, gender, age, dependency ratios, health, economic status and labour characteristics, remote working and connectivity along with a number of sustainability indicators. We have also included some information on town populations from the more recently published Profile 1 -Population Distribution and Movements.

Data is analysed by county and for the seven county Western Region (Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon, Galway and Clare) and the situation in the region is compared with that in the rest of the state (all other counties excluding the Western Region) or the state average, depending on how the data was produced.

The short report provides an overview of the current status of the Western Region in a number of areas.  The wealth of data means that to ensure the report is a manageable length (20 pages) key points are highlighted in the summary and graphics and statistics are provided later in the second part of the report.

There will be more detail in the forthcoming Census 2022 publications which the WDC Policy Analysis team will continue to analyse and will use to provide insights on the Western Region.

Some of the key results are highlighted here but for more information, including a short summary and 30 charts and tables displaying the data, please go to the report.


Key Statistics

Population and population growth

  • In 2022, the total population of the Western Region was 886,385 (up from 828,697 in 2016), an increase of 7.0%. this is slightly less than the state average of increase 8.1%.  The State population is 5,149,139.
  • Since 2016 the population of all Western counties has increased, with the highest growth rate in Leitrim (9.8%) and the lowest growth rate in Donegal (5.0%).

Components of Growth

  • More than three quarters of the population growth in Leitrim (75.6%) was as a result of migration (75.2% in Roscommon). In the Western Region 37.9% of the growth was ‘natural increase’ and 62.1% from migration. In the Rest of State 44.2% of growth was natural increase, and 55.8% was from migration.

Rurality[1] and Urban Living

  • Almost two thirds (63%) of people in the Western Region live in rural areas (outside towns of 1,500+). In the rest of the state only 31% of the population live in rural areas.  For the state as a whole (including Western Region counties) 36.3% live in rural areas.
  • Nationally 52% live in towns with a population of more than 10,000, but in the Western Region only 22.6% do.

Average age and Age dependency ratios

  • Mayo has the highest average age nationally (41.6 years), with Roscommon (40.8 years) third highest in the country and Leitrim (40.7 years) fourth highest. Galway city has the lowest average age in the Western Region (37.4 years) but Fingal is the youngest county in Ireland (average age 36.2 years).

Health, Disability and Caring

  • General Health in the Western Region is similar to that in the Rest of State. 0% said they were in good or very good health (ROS 82.9%).  However, there has been a significant fall in the proportion in Good or Very Good health, from 87.5% in the Western Region in 2011.

Economic Status and Labour characteristics

  • Principal Economic Status (PES) information on the population aged 15 years shows that in all Western Region counties the majority of this group are at work. This ranges from 51.1% in Donegal to 56.2% in Galway County. The state average is 56.1%.
  • The overall labour force participation rate in all Western Region counties is lower than the State average (61.2%). It is lowest in Donegal (57.2%) and highest in Galway County (60.6%) and Galway city (61.2%).

Connectivity and Working From Home

  • More than 14% of households in Leitrim do not have an internet connection, which is the highest in the State (8.7% average). Mayo (13.4%) and Roscommon (13.3%) are second and third highest in the Western Region. Galway city has the lowest level without internet (5.6%) with Clare next lowest (10.6%).
  • Donegal (22.6%) has the lowest overall percentage working from home in the Western Region, followed by Roscommon (26.5%). The highest level of working from home is in Galway city (31.1%) and Galway County (29.8%). This compares to 32.2% for the State.

Sustainability and Environment

  • In the Western Region 11% of households do not have a car. The proportion of households without a car is highest in Galway city (18%) and Sligo (12%) and lowest in Galway county (7%), Clare and Roscommon (both 9%).
  • The pattern of fuel usage in central heating is very different in the Western Region and the rest of the state primarily because of the lack of access to natural gas across most of the region. Only 5% of households in the Western Region use natural gas to heat their home compared with 39% in the rest of the state.  This means the Western Region is far more reliant on other fuels, many with higher carbon emissions.

Town populations

  • In addition to Galway city (85,910 incl. suburbs) there are six Western Region towns with a population of more than 10,000 as defined by the new Built Up Area (BUA) measure. Shannon (10,256) has just moved into this category. Ennis is the biggest town (27,923).  The gap between population in Letterkenny (22,549) and Sligo (20,608) continues to widen, as does the gap between Castlebar (13,054) and Ballina (10,556)
  • The CSO provided the 2022 population using the same boundaries as 2016 for comparison purposes. These are not the official town population statistics but can be used to show population change. Three towns showed population decline (Ballyshannon (-1.5%); Lifford (-1.2%) and Clifden (-6.2%).  Five towns grew by more than 25% : Baile Chláir (32.5%); Balllisodare (30.3%); Ballaghaderreen (29.4%); Maigh Cuilinn (28.0%) and Bundoran (26.5%).
  • Comparing the BUA populations for towns with the 2022 population data provided for the previous settlement boundaries shows the significant differences (especially in Ballinasloe (-11%), Claremorris (-10%) Gort (-9%), Kilrush (-10%) and Clifden (-16%). In contrast Oughterard population increased by almost 25% compared to the old boundaries, and Bearna grew by 16%.


I have highlighted some of the key statistics in this post but for more information, including a short summary and 30 charts and tables displaying the data, please go to the report here.

We hope this will be a useful reference for Western Region statistics over the next few years. If you have any questions, please get in touch.


Dr Helen McHenry

Policy Analyst

[1] These figures were calculated using the Profile 1 Census report Population Distribution and Movements .published 29 June 2023