The number of non-Irish nationals living in the Republic is now more than half a million, the 2011 Census shows.

The numbers increased by 143 percent between 2002 and 2011, Irish census figures published yesterday show.

544,357 non-Irish people of 199 nationalities were resident in Ireland during the April 2011 census. The population of theIrish Republic is approximately 4.5 million. The U.S. was one of twelve countries with populations larger than 10,000 living in ireland.

Emigrants from Poland made up the largest number, doubling in size since 2006, from 63,276 to 122,585. 

Amazingly, just 2,124 Poles were living in Ireland in 2002 but many were attracted by the Celtic Tiger.

Other statistics have shown that the births, deaths, and marriages in the country have been on the decrease but the rise in foreign born residents has kept the overall numbers up.

“Ireland has become an increasingly diverse society over the past decade and the different nationalities that make up the population of Ireland have an increasingly important impact on the economy and society,” said Deirdre Cullen, Senior Statistician at the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The majority of the emigrants do not speak Irish or English in their homes. With 112,811 speakers, Polish was the most common language, followed by Lithuanian, Russian, Romanian and Latvian.

Polish now account for the second largest group in Ireland, followed by UK nationals.  

CSO figures also showed that there was a drop in the birth, death and marriage rates in Ireland. Despite this, there was still a natural increase of 11,334 people in Ireland’s population, or 9.9 per 1,000 population.

The Irish birth rate dropped 3.2 percent to 19,313 births this year. The average age of a mother having her first child was 29.9 years old.

During the first quarter of 2012, the death rate decreased by 1.4 percent to 7,979 people registered. Nearly one third of cases the cause of death was attributed to circulatory disease, with 29 percent attributed to malignant neoplasms (or tumors), 14 per cent attributed to respiratory diseases and five per cent to ‘external causes’.

The rate in marriages dropped slightly as well. There were 2,827 marriages in the first quarter of 2012, which was 225 fewer people as compared to the same period from the previous year.