The Central Statistics Office released digitized tables revealing Meath as the most wealthy county in 1911 with Donegal coming in with the highest rate of poverty.

The CSO's digitized census 1911 results explore the "wealth and poverty" of the population of Ireland during that time. The area of Culmullin in Dunshaughlin, County Meath was "the District Electoral Division (DED) with the highest valuation per person of £20 19s 5d (£20.97). In Annagry, in the Glenties, County Donegal the CSO saw the lowest valuation per person of 4s 7d (£0.23)".

Commenting on the publication of these new figures, Eimear Crowley, CSO Statistician, said “The Census of Ireland, 1911 is now available on the CSO’s PxStat database. There are many stories hidden in this data and this release looks at valuation per person as an indicator of wealth in 1911. This data could also be used to look at population density, construction levels, and other demographic change factors.

"Today’s release is part of the CSO’s Historical Statistics Recovery (HSR) initiative which began in 2022 and aims to recover and make high-value statistics contained in Irish historical statistical publications accessible to all."

Crowley pointed out that this initiative to digitize census results, which is driven by volunteers, makes this data available online and means the data is preserved. 

Crowley continued "The Census of Ireland, 1911 is the first publication in this initiative where a selection of tables has been digitized. We were able to use population and valuation statistics published in The Census of Ireland, 1911 to gain insights into wealth and poverty in the country at that time. It was notable that poverty along the western seaboard was more acute when compared with the rest of the country, and particularly when compared with counties in Leinster."

Wealth and poverty in 1911

When looking at wealth and poverty in Ireland in 1911 it was found that nine of the top ten wealthiest counties in 1911 were in Leinster and seven of the ten poorest counties were towards the West of the country. Eight of the top twenty wealthiest District Electoral Divisions (DEDs) were in Meath alone, while eight of the twenty poorest DEDs were in Donegal.

The research, broken down on tables on the CSO website, provides statistics for different geographical divisions by area in 1911, by housing, and by population in 1891, 1901, and 1911 along with a general valuation of land and buildings in 1911. 

The wealthiest in Ireland

Out of the 20 wealthiest District Electoral Divisions (DEDs), 17 were in the province of Leinster (the southeast). Eight of the top 20 wealthiest DEDs were in County Meath, the highest number for any county. The remaining 12 DEDs in the top 20 were in County Kildare (three), Queens County / County Cork (two), County Westmeath (two) and one each in Belfast City, County Cork, Dublin City, County Dublin and County Roscommon.

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In the Census of Ireland, 1911, the Gaisford household was recorded as living in Culmullin,  County Meath. The Gaisford household consisted of five people – a married couple (Douglas and Elizabeth Gaisford) and three servants (Sarah Browne, Fanny Ashell and Emily McIlray).

Their house had 21 rooms along with 13 outhouses and farmsteadings. Douglas Gaisford is also listed as the landholder for three other houses on associated returns. The census returns for the other three houses contain occupation descriptions such as gardener, coachman, or general laborer – presumably for persons employed by the Gaisford household.

The poorest in Ireland

Out of the 20 poorest DEDs, 11 were in the province of Connaught while there were none from Munster. Donegal had eight DEDs out of the 20 poorest DEDs, the highest amount for any county.

A photo from present day Annagry, County Donegal.

A photo from present day Annagry, County Donegal.

In the census of Ireland, 1911, the Duffy household was recorded as living in Annagary, in County Donegal. The Duffy household consisted of 11 people with the head of the family, Grace Duffy, listed as a farmer’s wife. There were nine children aged from 18 down to one-year-old and a grandmother aged 73.

Their house contained just two rooms along with one outhouse or farmsteading. This household census return records the roof of this house as being of ‘Thatch, wood or other perishable material’ while the walls were of ‘stone, brick or concrete’.

How to find your story from 1911

The release also provides information for anyone who wants to create their own customized data tables or investigate the 1911 census forms for themselves. 

This video on how to search the data tables is available to help you find your story from 1911: