Emigration and Education Statistics, 1931, Co. Carlow

Carlow county is in the province of Leinster. It is bounded on the north by Kildare and Wicklow, on the east by Wicklow and Wexford, on the south by Wexford and west by Kilkenny & Laois (Queen’s county). It’s length from the Pollmounty river on the south to the northern boundary near Rathvilly is 32.5 miles; and it’s greatest breadth from Black Bridge to Ballyredmond near Clonegal on the east is 20 miles.


The name of the county is derived from the town of Carlow, whose old name ‘Catherloch’ means quadruple lake, the tradition being that where the town now stands, the Barrow river anciently formed four lakes of which there is now no trace. ‘Moy-fea’ was the old name of a plain lying in the Barony of Forth, and the name for this Barony was derived from Ohy Finn Fothart, who having been banished by his nephew Art, son of “”Conn of the hundred Battles”” proceeded to Leinster. The King of Leinster bestowed certain districts upon him and his sons. Hy Felimy was a tribe and district in the Barony of Rathvilly; the tribe of Hy Drona gave its name to a territory part in Carlow and part in Kilkenny now represented by the Baronies of Idrone.


The eastern half and parts of the west of the county produces fine granite for building. The Coal was mined in castlecomer in Co. Kilkenny which adjoins Carlow on the western side. ‘Carlow flags’ derived from a species of sandstone which splits into layers are ‘mined’ close to the Castlecomer coal fields. Nearly the whole county is level, and is generally fertile and well cultivated. On the south, east and extreme west, the county is skirted by mountains.These mountins with their heights in feet are as follows: Mount Leinster and the Blackstairs Mountains run for about 16 miles on the border of Carlow and Wexford. Greenoge (1,399) and Kilgrannish (1,335) are within the county. South of Kilgrannish is the Gap of Corrabut, running between this hill and Mount Leinster (2,610); Knockroe (1,746), is two miles farther south. South of this is Scullogue Gap, separating Mount Leinster from Blackstairs (2,409) which lies on the county boundary. The Rivers on the west are the Barrow, which for five miles forms the boundary between Carlow and Laois(Queen’s Co./Leix), and then flows through Carlow for 11 miles and for 19 miles more forms the boundary between counties Carlow and Kilkenny. On the east, the Slaney runs south for 18 miles through the county, and for 3 miles more it forms the boundary between counties Carlow and Wexford. It then enters Wexford. The Burren River rises north of Mount Leinster and flowing through the middle of the county joins the Barrow at Carlow from the county of Kilkenny. The Derreen entering Carlow from Wicklow, joins the Slaney 3 miles below Tullow. The Clody rises in Mount Leinster, and joins the Slaney at Newtownbarry, running the whole way on the boundary between Carlow and Wexford. The staple trade of county Carlow was corn, flour, meal, butter and provisions which were exported in large quantities.


There were 5,448 families in the county according to the 1926 Census for Ireland, the average number in each family being 4.3. The number of ‘inhabited houses’ was 7,420, with an average of 4.6 persons to each house. The Special Inmates of Public institutions are omitted from these figures. There were in the county 5,201 ‘Occupiers’ or ‘Heads of Families’ who were in occupation of less than five rooms, this was 95.4% of the total for the whole county. Of these 215, or 3.9% occupied one room; 1,394 or 25.6% occupied two rooms; 1,560 or 28.6%, occupied three rooms; and 2,032 or 37.3% were in occupation of four rooms. There were 96 tenements in the county, in which the room had only one occupant at that time; 98 cases where the room had two, three or four occupants; 18 cases in which there were five, six or seven occupants and three cases where the occupants of one room exceeded 7 in number, including one case where ten persons occupied the same room.


Year Males Females Total Pop.
1821 38,821 40,131 78,952
1831 40,149 41,839 81,988
1841 42,428 43,800 86,228
1851 33,016 35,062 68,078
1861 28,139 28,998 57,137
1871 25,464 26,186 51,650
1881 23,078 23,490 46,568
1891 20,552 20,384 40,936
1901 19,009 18,739 37,748
1911 18,481 17,771 36,252
1926 17,802 16,702 34,476


In 1911, there were in the county 30,138 people aged 9 years and upwards; of these 26,972 or 89.4% could read and write; 970 or 3.2% could read only; and 2,241 or 7.4% were illiterate. As that census was the first for which the age for consideration had been raised from 5 years to 9 years, no comparison can be made with figures from earlier censuses. But – the percentage of those of five years and upwards who were unable to read and write in 1891 was 15.4%. By 1901 this figure was listed as 11.3% and in 1911 had fallen to 9.8%.

IRISH SPEAKING (1861-1911)

No. of people 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911
Irish only 0 3 1 0 0 0
Irish & English 124 127 192 123 222 1,008
Irish Total 124 130 193 123 222 1,008
% of population 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.3 0.6 2.8

RELIGIONS, 1871-1926(% of population)

Religion 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 1926
Presbyterian 0.3 0.20 0.30 0.44 0.34 0.28
Church of Ireland 10.9 10.8 10.9 10.45 9.93 7.97
Roman Catholic 88.3 88.5 88.3 88.48 89.15 91.34
Methodist 0.30 0.30 0.40 0.52 0.43 0.32
Others 0.20 0.20 0.10 0.11 0.15 0.19

EMIGRATION (1861-1911)

1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911
10,713 5,405 5,440 8,064 8,408 2,428