The 1926 Census, set to go online in April 2026, will provide a unique snapshot of Ireland's population, age, occupation, religion, housing and the Irish language.

The National Archives of Ireland project has announced that as part of a €5 million project the Republic of Ireland's 1926 Census results will be available online, free of charge, from April 2026.

Personal information entered on individual census forms can be published 100 years after a census is taken. Since the personal information contained in the 1901 and 1911 census returns was published a decade ago, public interest in genealogy has mushroomed, and this continues with a growing interest in the detail contained in the 1926 census.

These returns contain the personal details of each individual alive at the time in Ireland. The 1926 census collected 21 data sets such as name, age, sex, marital status, religion, housing conditions and ability to speak Irish. It is planned to digitize and publish all data sets. This information will undoubtedly provide a fascinating snapshot of life in Ireland in 1926 and will be of great use to both the Irish public and diaspora worldwide.

On the night of 18 April 1926, the population of Ireland was 2,971,992 with 49% female and 51% male. At the previous census in 1911, the population was 3,139,688 demonstrating a reduction of 5.3% in the population in 15 years to 1926.  Dublin was the only county to record an increase in the population of almost 6% in the intercensal period, while all other counties recorded a loss.

In 1926, a total of 92.6% of the population was Catholic and 18.3% could speak Irish. Of those employed, 51% were in agricultural occupations, 4% were fishermen, 14% were in manufacturing and 7% were domestic servants. 

At present, the 1926 census is stored in 1,344 boxes, containing over 700,000 return sheets, each measuring approximately 630mm x 290mm (A3 is 297x430mm). The returns are laced together in 2,464 canvas portfolios each representing an enumeration area within each of the 26 counties.

Ireland's Census history

The first full government census of Ireland was taken in 1821 with further censuses at ten-yearly intervals from 1831 through to 1911. A census was taken in June 1921, in England, Scotland and Wales but not on the island of Ireland because of the War of Independence. The first census of the population of the Irish Free State was taken on 18 June 1926.

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The 1926 census returns, and indeed, all censuses less than 100 years old, remain under the legal control of the Central Statistics Office (CSO). To date censuses have been taken in 1926, 1936, 1946, 1951, 1956, 1961, 1966, 1971, 1979 (the census due in 1976 was canceled as an economic measure), 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2002 and 2006. The returns for 1926 - 1946 and part of those for 1951 are held in the National Archives, but they remain under the control of the Central Statistics Office. The more recent returns are still held by the Central Statistics Office.

The 1926 census consists of 630,048 household returns with one census return sheet per household along with around 70,0000 enumerators’ sheets. Each return measures approximately 630mm x 290mm (A3 is 297x430mm). The returns are laced together in 2,464 canvas portfolios each representing an enumeration area within each of the 26 counties. The entire census is stored in 1,344 boxes.

The 1926 census collected 21 data sets. These include:

1) Name and surname

2) Relationship to head of household.

3) Age (in years and months).

4) Sex.

5) Marriage or orphanhood.

6) Birthplace (including name of parish).

7) Irish language.

8) Religion.

9) Occupation and employment: personal occupation.

10) Occupation and employment: employment/name of employer.

11) Information regarding present marriage required from married women: number of completed years and months of present marriage, and number of children born alive to present marriage.

12) Information regarding present and previous marriages required from married men, widowers and widows: the number of living sons, daughters, step-sons and step-daughters under 16 years of age, whether residing as members of this household or elsewhere.

13) The total area in statute acres of all agricultural holdings (if any) situated in the Irish Free State of which persons usually resident in this household are the rated occupiers.

For more details on the 1926 Census visit: