Dan O’Brien: Census confirms that reports of the death of rural Ireland are greatly exaggerated

While the populations of other European countries are declining, Ireland is bucking the trend with every one of the 26 counties recording growth far in excess of the EU average

Ireland’s population has grown to over five million for the first time in 170 years, and it is not just an urban phenomenon, as growth was recorded in every county. Picture: Fergal Phillips

Joel Mokyr, the economic historian, once quipped that “the good old days were old but not good”. It’s an observation that is true almost everywhere.

There is less nostalgia for an illusory halcyon past in Ireland than in many other countries, the reason being that much of our past was tough in multiple ways. Few ever argued in the 20th century that Ireland was a beacon of modernity in the north Atlantic, as one could ...