Emigration and Education Statistics, 1931, Co. Cork

Extract Thom’s Directory of Ireland, 1931

Cork, a maritime county is in the Province of Munster. It is the largest county in Ireland, bounded on the north by Limerick, on the east by Tipperary and Waterford, on the south by the Atlantic ocean and on the west by Kerry. It’s length from Dursey island in the south west to Kilbeheny near Mitchellstown is 98 miles. The greatest length of th ecounty from Crow Head to Youghal is 102 miles; it’s breadth from the boundary at Mullaghareirk Mountains on the south west to Robert’s Head south of Cork harbour is 54 miles.


The counties name is derived from that of Cork city, being a shortened form of the Gaelic word Corcagh which signifies a marsh. The present county clearly corresponds with the ancient sub-kingdom of Desmond or south Munster. Corka Laigdhe (pronounced Corkalee) the old territory of the O’Driscolls comprised all the district from Courtmacsherry Bay to Bantry Bay, and the peninsula between Roaring Water Bay and Dunmanus Bay was the ancient Iveagh, the territory of the O’Mahoney’s. On the point of Dursey island are three sea rocks called in English, the Bull, the Cow and the Calf; they are celebrated in legendary history as the place where Donn one of the Milesian brothers perished in a storm with the crew of his ship. Several of the old territories are represented in name and position by baronies. Thus the old district of Beanntraighe is the Barony of Bantry; Cairbre the Baronies of Carbery; Muscraighe the Baronies of Muskerry; Duthaighe-Eada the Barony of Duhallow; Feara-Muighe the Barony of Fermoy called in later ages, the Roches country.


In the Barony of Duhallow, there was at Dromagh, 3 miles south-west of Kanturk an extensive coal field; Copper ore was found in various places, the chief mines being those of Allhies near Castletown Berehaven (Castletownbere), and the Cappagh mine on the west coast of Roaring Water bay near Skibbereen.

North of Bantry Bay are the Caha Mountains on the boundary of Cork and Kerry; the Miskish extending thence to the western point of the peninsula. Their most remarkable summits(with their height in feet) are Hungry Hill (2,251), near Berehaven; and Sugarloaf (1,187) west of Glengariff. East of these are mountains encircling the Pass of Keimaneigh, and the lake of Gougane Barra. The highest point is Shey Hill (1,797) at the head of Owvane Valley. North of these lies another range running east and west, beginning on the west with the Derrynasaggart Mountains (2,133) on the buondary between Cork and Kerry midway between Macroom and Killarney; east of these are the Boggeragh Mountains, culminating in Missheramoe (2,118) rising over Millstreet; further east are the Nagles Mountains terminating near Fermoy. This whole range from the west end of Derrynasaggart Mountains to Fermoy is over 40 miles in length. The Boggeragh and the Nagles Mountains define on the south the valley of the Blackwater, which has on the north the Ballyhoura Range extending into Limerick. East of these are the Kilworth Mountains. Near Newmarket on the borders of Cork and Kerry is Taur (1,329) and north of it Mullaghareirk Mountains (1,341) forming part of the boundary between Cork and Limerick. Mount Gabriel (1,339) over Skull rises quite detached in the middle of a great plain.

The Headlands beginning on the east are Knockadoon, south of Youghal; Power Head and Robert’s Head at the entrance to Cork Harbour; the Old Head of Kinsale west of Kinsale Harbour; Seven Heads east of Clonakilty Bay, and Galley Head on its west; Toe Head west of Castlehaven; Cape Clear on the south of the island with the same name; Mizen Head is the most southerly point of the Irish mainland; Muntervary or Sheep Head is the extreme point of the peninsula between the Bays of Bantry and Dunmanus; Dursey, west of Dursey island; and Crow Head on the adjacent mainland. Cod’s Head and Kilcatherine mark Coulagh Bay on the Kenmare River estuary.

The Islands taking the opposite direction are Dursey at the end of the Bear peninsula; Bear Island in Bantry Bay opposite Castletown; and further inland near Bantry town is Whiddy. Cape Clear island is at the extreme south and on its south-west is the Fastnet Rock. Sherkin is between Cape Clear and the mainland with other small islands in the neighbourhood. Cork Harbour contains Great Island, Little Island and Fota; Haulbowline and Spike Island, formerly a Convict Station.

The Bays and Harbours are Youghal Harbour separating the counties of Cork and Waterford, where the Blackwater enters the sea; Ballycotton Bay; Cork Harbour, at the mouth of the lee; Kinsale Harbour at the mouth of the Bandon, and Courtmacsherry at the mouth of the Arigideen; next are the Bays of Clonakilty and Rosscarbery, Glandore Harbour and Castlehaven. Baltimore and Roaring Water Bays are near Cape Clear. Dunmanus and Bantry Bays are on the west; off the latter are Bearhaven and Glengarriff Harbour. Kenmare Bay belongs jointly to Cork and Kerry; on the Cork side are Ballydonegan and Coulagh Bays, and Ardgroom Harbour belongs jointly to Cork and Kerry.

The chief rivers are the Blackwater and the Lee, the Bandon and their tributaries. The Blackwater rises at Knockanefune Hill near Kingwilliamstown in Kerry. It runs east and then south, forming for 11 miles the boundary between Cork and Kerry; then flowing east for over 50 miles it forms, for a couple of miles, the boundary between Cork and Waterford; then flowing through Waterford past Cappoquin, it enters the sea at Youghal. The chief tributaries of the Blackwater in Co. Cork are the Bride, the Tourig, the Glen, the Allow, the Dalna, the Awbeg (Spenser’s Mulla), the Funshion and the Araglin.

The Lee rises in Gougane Barra lake, and in its course forms Inchigeela Lake, and eventually below Cork City forms Lough Mahon and enters the sea between Power Head and Robert’s Head. The tributaries of the Lee are the Gullane and Laney; the Martin and its tributary the Blarney River; the Glashaboy; and the Owenacurra. Another Bride River enters the Lee seven miles above Cork.

The Bandon rises at Owen Hill west of Dunmanway, and flowing by Dunmanway, Bandon and Inishannon enters Kinsale harbour. Its tributaries are the Caha, another Blackwater and the Brinny.

Other rivers in the county are the Adrigeen which enters Courtmacsharry Bay, and the Ilen River into Baltimore Bay; the Coomhola, the Owvane, and the Mealagh flow into Bantry Bay; and the Four Mile Water into Dunmanus Bay.

The only Lakes calling for notice are those formed as already mentioned in the course of the River Lee.


There were 74,878 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 63,245, with an average of 4.9 persons to each house. The Special Inmates of Public institutions are omitted from these figures.

There were in the county 37,445 ‘Occupiers’ or ‘Heads of Families’ who were in occupation of less than five rooms, this was 50.1% of the total for the whole county. Of these 1,301, or 1.9% occupied one room; 7,729 or 10.4% occupied two rooms; 10,649 or 14%, occupied three rooms; and 17,766 or 23.7% were in occupation of four rooms.

There were 639 tenements in the county, in which the room had only one occupant at that time; 546 cases where the room had two, three or four occupants; 101 cases in which there were five, six or seven occupants and 15 cases where the occupants of one room exceeded 7 in number, including 2 cases where ten persons occupied the same room.




Total Pop.
1821 360,959 369,485 730,444
1831 396,714 414,018 810,732
1841 420,551 433,567 854,118
1851 318,149 331,159 649,308
1861 269,637 275,181 544,818
1871 256,062 261,014 517,076
1881 246,044 249,563 495,607
1891 219,988 218,444 438,432
1901 202,297 202,314 404,611
1911 197,516 194,588 392,104
1926 183,159 182,563 365,747


In 1911, there were in the county 259,477 people aged 9 years and upwards; of these 230,564 or 88.9% could read and write; 4,489 or 1.7% could read only; and 24,424 or 9.4% 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 20%. By 1901 this figure was listed as 14.2% and in 1911 had fallen to 11.3%.

IRISH SPEAKING (1861-1911)

of people
1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911

Irish only
16,478 11,532 5,571 2,270 1,065 557

Irish & English
178,979 135,437 156,785 110,246 96,914 76,648
% of
35.9 33.5 39.1 31.0 29.8 23.8

RELIGIONS, 1871-1926(% of population)

1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 1926

0.3 0.4 0.4 0.33 0.33 0.13

Church of Ireland
7.1 7.2 7.4 7.31 7.29 4.86

Roman Catholic
91.5 91.7 91.30 91.32 91.45 94.34

0.5 0.5 0.7 0.68 0.65 0.42

0.6 0.2 0.2 0.36 0.28 0.25

EMIGRATION (1861-1911)

1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911
148,009 118,669 74,209 83,533 77,072 43,593