Ireland's Central Statistics Office (CSO) has published its findings on the Irish language based on Ireland's 2022 Census, which was taken on Sunday, April 3, 2022.

The total number of people aged three and over in Ireland who could speak Irish in April 2022 was 1,873,997, which represents 40% of the population aged three years and over who completed the question on Irish language, which is unchanged from 2016.

There were 112,577 more people who could speak Irish compared with 2016, an increase of 6%.

"Almost 1.9 million people indicated that they could speak Irish to varying degrees of fluency from not well to very well," Deirdre Lynch, Statistician in the CSO's Census Division, said about the results which were published on December 19.

“One in ten (195,029 people) could speak the language very well, 32% (593,898 people) spoke Irish well, while 55% (1,034,132 people) of Irish speakers did not speak it well. 

“It is interesting to see the number of non-Irish citizens who spoke Irish, including 13% of Polish citizens, 13% of Latvian citizens, and 15% of Australian citizens.”

Over four in ten Irish speakers spoke the language well or very well while 55% could not speak it well

— Central Statistics Office Ireland (@CSOIreland) December 19, 2023

Irish Speakers in Gaeltacht Areas

The CSO reported that the number of people living in Gaeltacht areas grew by just over 6,600 to more than 106,000 people in Census 2022 (+7%) and every Gaeltacht area showed an increase. 

The largest growth was in the Galway County Gaeltacht, with over 2,900 more people living there, while Mayo’s Gaeltacht had the lowest growth with an extra 129 people between Census 2022 and Census 2016. 

Just over 65,000 people aged three years and over living in Gaeltacht areas could speak Irish, up nearly 1,500 people since 2016. However, the proportion of Irish speakers in Gaeltacht areas continued to fall, down to 66% in 2022 having been 67% in 2016 and 69% in 2011.

Just over 20,000 people living in Gaeltacht areas spoke Irish daily (31%), 325 fewer people than in 2016 (-2%). Almost 6,500 people spoke Irish weekly, a rise of 2% since 2016. The biggest proportion of daily Irish speakers was in the Galway County Gaeltacht at 39%, though this was down from 40% in 2016. Just 8% of Irish speakers in the Galway City Gaeltacht spoke the language daily, the lowest proportion of any Gaeltacht area.

The Irish language question was expanded in Census 2022 to ask those who spoke Irish how well they spoke it. The majority of Irish speakers in Gaeltacht areas spoke the language well (29%) or very well (41%) while another 28% did not speak Irish well. 

Irish Speakers Overall

The number of Irish speakers in the country has grown since Census 2016 but in most cases, they were speaking it less frequently. Almost 1.9 million people (aged three years and over) stated they could speak Irish, an increase of more than 112,500 people since 2016 (+6%). The people who could speak Irish made up 40% of the population aged three and over.

There were just over 1 million female Irish speakers and nearly 844,000 male speakers.

Nearly 57,000 non-Irish citizens could speak Irish. 

The number of people who stated they could speak Irish but never did so grew by 13% to almost 473,000.

Nearly 72,000 people spoke Irish daily, which was almost 1,900 fewer than in 2016 (-2%) while just over 115,000 people spoke Irish weekly.

Nearly 615,000 people spoke the language less often than weekly, up 5% on 2016. Almost 554,000 people only spoke Irish within the education system, a slight decline since 2016 (1% or almost 4,700 people).

Non-Irish citizens who spoke Irish included 13% of Polish citizens (more than 10,800 people), 13% of Latvian citizens (over 2,100), and 15% of Australian citizens (more than 500).