Emigration and Education Statistics, 1931, Co. Leitrim

Leitrim is a county in the Irish province of Connaught and it is bounded on the north by Donegal Bay. Here is has a coastline of 2.5 miles. It is also bounded on the north by Counties Donegal and Fermanagh, on the east by Fermanagh and County Cavan and on the south by County Longford. Lough Allen divides County Leitrim into two parts. The greatest length of this county from Donegal Bay to the boundary at Drumlish, Co. Longford is 51 miles and it’s breadth from east to west is 21 miles


The name Leitrim is derived from a village which is located four miles from Carrick-on-Shannon. It signifies a grey hill or ridge. This county was the principality of the O’Rourkes until the 16th century and was known as Brefny-O’Rourke. Rosclogher Barony was known as Dartry and was the territory of the MacClancy family. The southern part of the county was known as Moy Rein, the territory of the MacRannalls or Reynolds.


The county is intersected by a canal which unites the river Shannon at Carrick-on-Shannon with Lough Erne at Ballyconnell in Co. Cavan. The minerals of the county included iron and lead ores as well as coal. There were iron and coal mines at Slieve Anierin.

The chief mountain in the county is Slieve Anierin at 1,922 feet high and this is located on the shores of Lough Allen. Bencroy(1,707 feet)is a little to the north; Slievenakilla (1,793) stands on the County Cavan border. Benbo(1,365) is near Manorhamilton.

The river Shannon flows from County Cavan and forms the western boundary of county Leitrim for about 35 miles. The river Drowes forms the boundary between Leitrim and County Donegal and the Kilcoo river is part of the boundary with county Fermanagh. The Bonet rises in Glenade Lake and flows into Lough Gill, the Owenmore or Scarden is a tributary of this river (Bonet). The Yellow river, the Stoney river, the Diffagher, and the Owengar all flow into Lough Allen. The Arigna forms the boundary with County Sligo for a few miles before it enters the river Shannon. The Cloone River falls into Lough Rinn and from there flows into Lough Forbes. The Aghacashlaun flows down Bencroy mountain into Lough Scur.

Lakes: There are hundreds of small lakes lal over the county. Lough Allen is 8.5 miles long and 3 miles wide. Lough Melvin and Upper Lough Macneam belong partly to County Leitrim. Garadice Lough or Lough Finvoy is 2.5 miles long. Lough Rinn is 3 miles long. Belhavel is close to Drumahaire; Lough Scur, Carricaport, St. John’s , Gill, and Loughs Bofin and Boderg are on the Shannon river.


There were 12,703 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 13,804, with an average of 4.4 persons to each house. The Special Inmates of Public institutions are omitted from these figures.

There were in the county 10,850 ‘Occupiers’ or ‘Heads of Families’ who were in occupation of less than five rooms, this was 85.4% of the total for the whole county. Of these 239, or 1.9% occupied one room; 1,564 or 12.3% occupied two rooms; 7,305 or 57.5%, occupied three rooms; and 1,743 or 13.7% were in occupation of four rooms.

There were 133 tenements in the county, in which the room had only one occupant at that time; 83 cases where the room had two, three or four occupants; 20 cases in which there were five, six or seven occupants and 2 cases where the occupants of one room exceeded 7 in number, including one case where there were nine people in the one room




Total Pop.
1821 61,361 63,424 124,785
1831 69,451 73,073 141,524
1841 77,501 77,796 155,297
1851 56,111 55,786 111,897
1861 52,562 52,182 104,744
1871 47,724 47,838 95,562
1881 45,190 45,182 90,372
1891 39,715 38,903 78,618
1901 35,098 34,245 69,343
1911 32,759 30,823 63,582
1926 29,232 26,656 55,907


In 1911, there were in the county 52,433 people aged 9 years and upwards; of these 45,940 or 87.6% could read and write; 2,021 or 3.9% could read only; and 4,472 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 16.4%. By 1901 this figure was listed as 12.1% and in 1911 had fallen to 10.9%.

IRISH SPEAKING (1861-1911)

of people







Irish only
82 341 49 23

Irish & English
13,745 6,514 9,551 5,599 4,004 3,923

Irish Total
13,827 6,855 9,600 5,622 4,004 3,923
% of
13.2 7.2 10.6 7.2 5.8 6.2

RELIGIONS, 1871-1926(% of population)

1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 1926

0.3 0.3 0.3 0.32 0.29 0.16

Church of Ireland
8.8 8.6 8.2 8.00 7.39 5.88

Roman Catholic
90.0 90.2 90.4 90.65 91.47 93.36

0.8 0.9 0.1 1.00 0.80 0.49

0.1 0.0 0.1 0.03 0.05 0.11

EMIGRATION (1861-1911)

1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911
16,820 13,980 12,683 21,008 9,830 8,308