Emigration and Education Statistics, 1931, Co. Galway


Galway, a maritime county, in the province of Connaught, is bounded on the north by the counties of Mayo and Roscommon, on the east by Roscommon, Offaly (King’s co.) and Tipperary, on the south by Clare and Galway Bay and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. Its greatest length from near Eyrecourt to Aughrus point east and west is 94 miles, and its greatest breadth from near Gort in the south to near Ballymoe on the northern boundary is 53 miles.


The River Corrib which flows through Galway City was formerly called Gailleamh (from ‘Gall’ = a rock). This gave its name to the city and then to the county. A large portion of the western part of the county was anciently called Conmacne, which gave the name to Conmemacne-mara, or Connemara. The portion west of Loughs Corrib and Mask was called Iar-Connaught, or West Connaught, now applied to the Baronies of Ballinahinch, Moycullen and Ross. The portion of the county from the Shannon to Galway Bay anciently called Hy-Many, was divided between the O’Kelly’s and the O’Maddens, the latter occupying the coast portion called Sil Anmacada, and the former the baronies of Kiltartan and Dunkellin, called Aidne or Hy-Fiachrach Aidne. “Joyce’s Country” is called after a family from Wales, which settled in part of the barony of Ross, in the thirteenth century, and gradually spread over the territory between the western coast of Lough Corrib and Killary Harbour.


The finest range of Mountains in Galway are the Twelve Pins in the barony of Ballynahinch, which form a continuous range of conical peaks, extending for several miles and forming deep and fertile valleys, and many small lakes. The highest peaks are Benbaun (2,395’) and Bencorr (2,336’). Joyce’s Country consists mostly of wild and barren limestone mountains, and deep ravines. Maumtrasna (2,207’) and Devil’s Mother (2,131’) are the highest summits of the Partry Mountains, which form part of the boundary between Mayo and Galway, east of Killary Harbour. On the Clare side the Slieve Aughty range whch run for about 13 miles, the highest points being Cashlaundrumlahan (1,207) and Scalp (1,074’).

From Galway to Cashla Bay on its west, the coast line is almost unbroken, but thence to Killary Harbour there are innumerable breaks and indentations, forming many rocky promontories and very many inlets, creeks and islands. From Clifden the scenery is very fine.

The chief Headlands are Renvyle Point and Aughrus Point, Slyne Head at the turn of the coast, Mace Head and Golam Head.

The Aran Islands outside Galway Bay in the Atlantic are well known and consist of three chief islands, Inishmore, Inishmaan and Inisheer, with a small group called the Brannach Islands. Along the coast of Ballynahinch Barony the small islands are almost innumerable. North of Inishmore are : Gorumna Island, 4 ½ miles long with Lettermullan and Lettermore on its west. St. Macdara’s Island contains the ruin of the church founded by the saint, and west of Aughrus Point is Ardoilen, which contains the ruins of a monastery founded by St. Fechin in the seventh century. Tawin island is in Galway Bay. The principal islands in Lough Corrib are Inishmacatreer, Inchnagael, Ardillaun (from which a member of the Guinness family chose his title in the peerage) and Castlekirk, which are on the ruins of an ancient castle.

Perhaps the most interesting island belonging to the county is Inishcaltra, or Holy Island in Lough Derg. This island contains a round tower, and the ruins of several ancient churches, one of which was erected or re-constructed by Brian Boru. St. Canice here founded a monastery, which became a centre of ecclesiastical learning and activity.

Bays and Harbours: Galway Bay lies between the counties of Galway and Clare. East of it are Oranmore and Aughnish Bay. West of Galway are Cashla Bay, Greatman’s Bay and Kilkieran Bay. Next are Bertraghboy Bay, Ballyconneely Bay and Mannin Bay. Near Clifden is Ardbear Bay and near Renvyle is Ballynakill Harbour. Killary Harbour and inlet, which forms part of the boundary between counties Mayo and Galway and Salrock Harbour, contain some beautiful scenery.

Rivers: The River Shannon with its expansion Lough Derg forms the boundary of the county for nearly 40 miles. The Suck which has as tributaries the Bunowen, the Clonbrock and the Shiven joins the Shannon at Shannon-Bridge. The Corrib which runs from Lough Corrib past Galway City into the Bay has good salmon fisheries. The Claregalway, the Cregg, the Black Rivers, the Owenriff and the Bealnabrack flow into Lough Corrib. The Dawros River runs into Ballinakill Harbour and the Owenglin into Ardbear Bay near Clifden.

Lough Corrib is after Lough Neagh, the largest of the Irish Lakes. Lough Mask, on the western boundary of Galway and Lough Derg on the eastern, have some splendid scenery. In Connemara there are innumerable lakes of various extents, among the largest of which are Inagh, Derryclare, Garroman, Ballynahinch, Kylemore, Shindilla, Ardderry, Anilaun and Bofin. In the south of the county lie Lough Cutra near Gort and Lough Rea near the town of that name (Loughrea).


Year Males Females Total Pop.
1821 169,503 167,871 337,374
1831 204,691 209,993 414,684
1841 219,564 220,634 440,198
1851 157,135 164,549 321,684
1861 134,057 137,421 271,478
1871 122,496 125,962 248,458
1881 120,609 121,396 242,025
1891 108,283 106,429 214,712
1901 97,923 94,626 192,549
1911 94,403 87,821 182,224
1926 88,462 80,849 169,363

Families and Houses in 1926

The number of families in the county was 29,177 the average number in each family being 4.8. The number of inhabited houses was 33,362, showing an average of 5.1 persons to each house. The special inhabitants of public institutions are omitted from these calculations.

There were in the county 27,367 Occupiers or Heads of Families, who were in occupation of less than five rooms, being 76.9% of the total for the county. Of these 988 or 3.4% of the families in the county occupied one room; 4,392 or 15.6%, two rooms; 15,229 or 52.2%, three rooms; and 6,758 or 23.1%, occupied four rooms.

There were in the county 378 tenements in which the room had only one occupant; 448 cases where the room had 2-4 occupants, 132 cases in which there were 5-7 occupants and 30 cases where the occupants of one room exceeded 7 in number, including 14 cases where ten persons, and 2 cases where eleven persons occupied the same room.

Birthplace of Inhabitants

Of the population in 1926, 91.7% were born in the county or city, 6.8% in other counties in Saorstat Eireann. 0.2% in Northern Ireland, 0.6% in Great Britain, and 0.6% were born abroad.


In 1911 there were in the county 148,482 persons aged 9 years and upwards; of these 116,219 or 78.3% could read and write; 4,389 or 2.9% could read only and 27,874 or 18.8% were illiterate. As this census is the starting point where the age was raised from 5 years to 9 years; no comparison can be made with previous figures from other censuses. The report states that the percentage of those of 5 years and upwards who were unable to read and write was 33.9% in 1891, 25.4% in 1901 and in 1911 had fallen to 21%.

IRISH SPEAKING (1861-1911)

No. of people 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911
Irish only 41,512 30,239 23,911 17,646 9,442 7,811
Irish & English 124,892 109,464 131,423 107,929 99,428 90,712
Irish Total 166,404 139,703 153,334 125,575 108,870 98,523
% of population 61.3 56.2 64.2 58.5 56.5 54.1

RELIGIONS, 1871-1926 (% of population)

Religion 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 1926
Presbyterian 0.2 0.3 0.3 0.32 0.27 0.12
Church of Ireland 3.0 2.9 2.5 2.39 1.95 0.98
Roman Catholic 96.6 96.7 97.0 97.23 97.64 98.81
Methodist 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.08 0.04
Others 0.1 0.1 0.06 0.06 0.05

EMIGRATION (1861-1911)

1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911
50,838 38,758 23,665 51,121 36,820 26,464