2011 Census in the south
(Information from the Central Statistics Office. More information available here…):
Can you speak Irish?
The total number of persons (aged 3 and over) who could speak Irish in April 2011 was 1,774,437. This was an increase of 7.1 per cent on the 1,656,790 persons who could speak Irish in April 2006. There were more females (973,587) able to speak Irish than males (800,850).
School-goers and Irish
Between the ages of 5 and 18 inclusive just under 450,000 children spoke Irish on a daily basis in school representing 87 per cent of all persons who spoke Irish within education in 2011.
There were 77,185 persons speaking Irish on a daily basis outside of the education system in April 2011. Twenty three per cent of these were aged 5 to 18 (17,457 persons), a further 23,359 (30%) were in the age group 25-44. There were more women (42,157) than men (35,028).
There were 110,642 persons who said that they spoke Irish on a weekly basis outside of education. Again, there were more females (61,176) than males (49,466) speaking Irish on a weekly basis and relatively larger numbers of females spoke Irish weekly in the 35-44 age group than in the other non-school going ages.
The Gaeltacht areas
A total of 66,238 persons (aged 3 or over) or 68.5 per cent of persons in the Gaeltacht areas said that they could speak Irish in 2011. This was an increase of 1,973 persons over 2006. However, the proportion who spoke Irish has dropped from 70 per cent in 2006.
The number of daily speakers outside of the education system in the Gaeltacht regions was 23,175 persons or 24 per cent of all persons aged 3 or over in these regions. A further 6,813 spoke Irish on a weekly basis. Some 4,682 persons indicated that they could speak Irish but didn’t do so on a regular basis.
2011 Census in the north
(Information from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. More information available here…):
Statistics published by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency show that 29% of Catholics and 2% of Protestants, 13% of the overall population, claim to have a knowledge of the Irish language.
3,686 people took part in the Continuous Household Survey 2011/12 regarding the knowledge and use of Irish and Ulster-Scots in Northern Ireland.
According to the results of the 2011 Census, 11% (184,898) of the population have a knowledge of Irish, 1% higher than the 2001 Census.
However, there is no direct comparison between both sets of statistics as the CHS only involved people over 16 years while the Census is based on those over three years of age.
11% can understand the language, 6 % can speak Irish and 5% can read and write Irish.
The survey found that knowledge of Irish is greater among people between 16-44 years of age and those living in rural areas.
1% of Catholics and 0.5% of Protestants claim that Irish is the spoken language in their home while 4% of the general population say that they occasionally use Irish in a social setting.
The survey also found that 29% of Catholics and 8% of Protestants would like to learn more about the language. (source – Cogar)