Emigration and Education Statistics, 1931, Co. Clare

Extract from Thom’s Directory, 1931

Clare a maritime county in the province of Munster. It is bounded on the north by Galway Bay and Galway, and on the east and south by the Shannon, which separates it from Tipperary, Limerick and Kerry, and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. It’s greatest length from Loop Head to the boundary near Lough Atorick on the north east corner is 67 miles, and it’s breadth from Black Head to the shore west of Bunratty is 37 miles.


The county is named after the town of Clare (or Clare Castle), near the mouth of the river Fergus; and this got it’s name from a bridge of planks by which the Fergus was crossed in old times; the Gaelic word “”ciar”” meaning a board or plank. Clare once was part of Connaught but was annexed to Munster in the fourth century A.D.The old territory of Corko Baskin included the whole of the south west, being the portion occupied by the baronies of Moyarta and Clonderalaw. Hy Caisin, the territory of the McNamara’s lay in Upper Bunratty and Upper Tulla; Hy Fermaic, the district of the O’Dea’s, was in the barony of Inchiquin; south of Hy Fermaic was the district of Hy Cormac. O’Heihirs district, lay between the Fergus and Slieve Callan and comprised the whole Barony of the Islands except the parish of Clondegad, which belonged to Corco-Baskin. The old district of Corcomroe occupied all the territory now represented by the Baronies of Corcomroe and Burren. Kincora, the ancient place of Brian Boru, King of Ireland was at Killaloe, and the remains of old mounds and fortifications still remain.


The minerals in the county included sandstone flags, like the Carlow flags, which were produced around Kilrush, Kilkee and Ennistymon; slates were found at Broadford, near Killaloe; but the principle quarries of what are called ‘Killaloe slates’ are in Tipperary beyond the Shannon. The Barony of Burren in the north is an extraordinary region of limestone rock, rising into hills of bare grey limestone, the intervening valleys being composed of limestone with great blocks strewn over the surface.

The the highest mountain summit in Burren district is Slieve Elva (1,109); Cappanawalla (1,023) rises over Ballyvaughan Bay and in the east of the district is Slievecarran (1,075). Turkenagh and Cappaghabaun 91,126), offshoots of the Slieve Aughty range in Galway are on the north east. South of these the Slieve Bernagh range which includes the Glannagalliagh Hills (1,746 & 1,458), rising over Lough Derg and Cragnamurragh (1,729), a mile to the west. Slieve Callan (1,282) east of Milltown Malbay commands a view of the whole country. North west of Limerick are the Cratloe Hills.

The Headlands along the coast beginning on the north west are Aughanish, east of Ballyvaghan; Black Head forming the north west angle of the county; Doolin Point; Hag’s Head, on the north of Liscannor Bay; Cream Point and Spanish Point, near Miltown Malbay; Lurgan Point opposite Mutton Island; Donegal Point defining Farrihy Bay on the north; Fooha Point south of Kilkee; and Loop Head, forming the peninsula between the Shannon and the Atlantic Ocean.

The Islands include a group which belong to Clare, in the estuary of the Fergus, near Killadysert; in the Shannon, outside Kilrush is Scattery Island, once a celebrated seat of religion and learning, founded in the fifth century and containing the ruins of seven churches and a round tower, South of Kilkee is Bishop’s island, and outside Miltown Malbay is Mutton Island.

The Bays and Harbours include the estuary of the river Fergus in the Shannon, also Kilrush harbour and Carrigaholt Bay, between which and Loop Head are Rinevalla and Kilbaha Bays. On the Atlantic coast are Ross Bay and Moore Bay at Kilkee; Mal Bay is merely the sea west of Miltown; and Liscannor Bay at Lahinch is defined on the north by Hag’s Head. On the north is Ballyvaughan Bay to the east of which are the bays of Muckinish and Aughinish.

The principle Rivers are the Shannon and it’s tributary the Fergus. The Shannon bounds Clare for about 70 miles; and the Fergus, which rises a few miles from Corrofin, flows through Inchiquin and other lakes and opens out by a broad estuary into the Shannon. The river Graney issues from Lough Graney and passing through Lough O’Grady falls into Lough Derg at Scariff Bay. The Owenogarney issues from Doon Lake near Broadford, after passing Sixmilebridge it takes the name of the Bunratty River, and joins the Shannon at Bunratty. The Inagh or Cullenagh, rises south east of Slievecallan; at Ennistymon is falls over a ledge of rocks forming a beautiful cascade and 3 miles lower enters Liscannor Bay.

The county abounds in small Lakes, some of them being among the most picturesque in Ireland. Inchiquin Lake near Corrofin, has on it’s western side, a castle ruin, the ancient residence of the O’Brien’s, Earls of inchiquin. Lough Graney in the east, lies in the midst of hills and south of it is Lough O’Grady; 6 miles east is Lough Atorick on the boundary with Galway. Lickeen Lake lies 3 miles north east of Ennistymon.


There were 17,454 families in the county according to the 1926 Census for Ireland, the average number in each family being 4.6. The number of ‘inhabited houses’ was 20,883, with an average of 4.8 persons to each house. The Special Inmates of Public institutions are omitted from these figures.

There were in the county 14,595 ‘Occupiers’ or ‘Heads of Families’ who were in occupation of less than five rooms, this was 83.6% of the total for the whole county. Of these 678, or 3.9% occupied one room; 2,859 or 16.4% occupied two rooms; 7,158 or 41%, occupied three rooms; and 4,500 or 25.8% were in occupation of four rooms.

There were 250 tenements in the county, in which the room had only one occupant at that time; 308 cases where the room had two, three or four occupants; 104 cases in which there were five, six or seven occupants and sixteen cases where the occupants of one room exceeded 7 in number, including 2 cases where ten persons occupied the same room.


Year Males Females Total Pop.
1821 105,056 103,033 208,089
1831 128,446 129,876 258,322
1841 144,109 142,285 286,394
1851 103,953 108,487 212,440
1861 82,541 83,764 166,305
1871 73,442 74,422 147,864
1881 71,058 70,399 141,457
1891 63,138 61,345 124,483
1901 57,386 54,948 112,334
1911 53,877 50,355 104,232
1926 50,064 44,964 95,064


In 1911, there were in the county 86,139 people aged 9 years and upwards; of these 77,041 or 89.5% could read and write; 1,744 or 2.0% could read only; and 7,354 or 8.5% 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 19.2%. By 1901 this figure was listed as 13.2% and in 1911 had fallen to 10.8%.

IRISH SPEAKING (1861-1911)

No. of people 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911
Irish only 7,126 4,432 2,584 900 326 161
Irish & English 72,074 53,713 62,501 45,978 43,160 36,543
Irish Total 79,200 58,145 65,085 46,878 43,486 36,704
% of population 47.6 39.3 46.0 37.7 38.7 35.2

RELIGIONS, 1871-1926(% of population)

Religion 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 1926
Presbyterian 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.14 0.16 0.06
Church of Ireland 2.0 1.9 1.8 1.81 1.64 0.87
Roman Catholic 97.7 97.9 98.04 97.98 98.14 98.81
Methodist 0.1 0.04 0.04 0.04 0.01
Others 0.1 0.02 0.03 0.02 0.25

EMIGRATION (1861-1911)

1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911
50,033 31,667 18,796 32,421 18,031 13,597