Emigration and Education Statistics, 1931, Co. Limerick

Limerick a county in the province of Munster, is bounded on the north by the Shannon, on the east by Tipperary, on the south by Cork and on the west by Kerry. Its greatest length from near Abbeyfeale to the boundary at Galtmore is 50 miles, and its greatest breadth from a point on the Shannon on the north to the Ballyhourna mountains on the south is 33 miles: average breadth about 23 miles.

Name and Former Divisions

The Gealic name is Luimneach, which means “bare spot” and was probably derived from a piece of land on which the city was originally built. The name was afterwards extended from the city to the whole county. The part of the county west of the Maigue and the barony of Coshma east of the river, was until the 12th century the territory of the O’Donovans and called Hy Tidgente or Hy Carbery. The Barony of the Small County was called Deis Beg. Part of the barony of Coshlea was the ancient Clin Mail. Bruree (Brugh-Righ, “Fort of the King”) was called after Olioll Olum, the 2nd King of Munster in the second century, who is supposed to be buried in a large cromlech which stands near Duntryleague church, betwen Galbally and Knocklong. Bruree was also for several centuries the principle seat of the O’Donovans. The Barony of Coonagh was the ancient Hy Cuanach; Oweneybeg was Uaithne; Connelo was Hy Connall Gavra; and Kenry was the ancient Caenraighe.


In a general way the borders of the county are hilly and mountainous, and the centre forms a great plain, which contains some of the finest land in Ireland. The district of the “Golden Vale” extending by Hospital, Kilmallock and Bruree, into the county of Tipperary towards Cashel is famous for its rich soil.

In the north east are the Slieve Felim mountains, the chief peaks of which are Cullaun (1,523), and Knockastanna (1,467). In the north east the Ballyhoura Mountains extend along the boundary between this county and Cork. The principle summits are Seefin (1,702), Blackrock (1,696), Carron (1,469), Knockea (1,311), Knockeennamroanta (1,319) and Barnagheeha (1,311), near Ballyorgan. Overlooking the “Golden Vale” is Slievereagh (1,439). The western part of the galtees belong to Limerick, and forms a fine range, the highest point being Galtymore (3,015) on the border. In the south west are the Mullagharurk Mountains running into Cork, having in Limerick, Knockanade (1,070), Knockawarrig (1,007) and Mullaghanuish (1,189). Knockaunnpaha (1,132) is the chief summit on the west. Near Ballingarry, Knockfeerna (949) is an outstanding feature of the landscape with a great cairn on its summit.


The Shannon, from O’Brien’s bridge to Tarbert is 48 miles in length, and forms the boundary, except for about 6 miles near Limerick City where a portion of the county lies on the Clare side of the river. Below the city the river gradually widens till it becomes a grand estuary as it enters the Atlantic. There is much picturesque scenery on its banks. Nearly all the other rivers in the county drain into the Shannon. The Mulkear (or Mulkern) which has many small tributaries, joins the Shannon mid way between Limerick and Castleconnell. The Crompaun river forms part of the boundary between Limerick and Clare. The Maigue flows from Milford west of Charleville, runs past Bruree, Croom and Adare and into the Shannon 9 miles below the city; it has as tributaries, the Loobagh, the Morning Star, the camoge, and the Barnakyle. The Deel rises near the source of the Maigue, and flowing past Newcastle passes through Rathkeals and Askeaton before joining the Shannon near Askeaton. The Feale forms the boundary between Limerick and Kerry for 7 miles. The Aherlow river flows by Galbally, enters Co. Tipperary, and eventually joins the Suir, and the Funshion joins the Blackwater, after running for 5 miles along the boundary with Cork.

The only Lake of any importance in the county is Lough Gur near Bruff.

Islands in the Shannon – Foynes Island, which is nearly circular and 196 feet high, is about a mile in diameter. Aughinish is near Foynes, and King’s Island at Limerick city is formed by two branches of the Shannon, and part of the city is built upon it.





Total Pop.

136,916 140,561 277,477

153,625 161,730 315,355

161,997 168,032 330,029

127,387 134,745 262,132

105,712 111,565 217,277

93,112 98,824 191,136

88,311 92,321 180,632

78,607 80,305 158,912

72,456 73,642 146,098

72,229 70,840 143,069

70,985 68,949 140,343

Houses & Families 1926

The number of families in the county was 19,896, the average number in each family being 4.7. The number of inhabited houses was 20, 688 showing an average of 4.9 persons to each house. The special inmates of public institutions are omitted from these calculations.

There were in the county, 13,765 Occupiers or Heads of families, who were in occuptation of less than 5 rooms, neing 69.1 % of the total for the county. Of these 682, or 3.4%, of the families in the county occupied more than one room; 2,580 or 12.9% : 2 rooms; 4,369 or 21.9%: 3 rooms, and 6,134 or 30.8%, occupied 4 rooms.

There were in the county 337 tenements in which the room had only one occupant; 825 cases where the room had 2-4 occupants, 266 cases in which there were 5-7; and 35 cases where the occupants of one room exceeded 7 in number, including 4 cases where ten persons and 2 cases where 11 persons occupied one room.

Birthplace of Inhabitants

Of the population in 1926, 89.09% were bron in the county; 9.73% in other counties in the Republic of ireland; 0.16% in Northern Ireland and 0.42% were bron abroad.


In 1911 there were in the county 86,034 persons aged 9 years and upwards; of these 77,999 or 90.7% could read and write; 1,753 or 2.% could read only and 6,282 or 7.3% were il;literate. As this census was the first for which age was raised from 5 to nine years for this information no comparison can really be made between it and previous Censuses. But, the report states that the percentage of those of 5 yrs and upwards who were unable to read and write which was 16.3% in 1891, was 11.6% in 1901 and in 1911 had fallen to 10.1%.

IRISH SPEAKING (1861-1911)

of people
1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911

Irish only
2,111 1,389 104 15 5 1

Irish & English
45,556 21,708 29,390 15,912 12,347 10,920

Irish Total
47,667 23,097 29,494 15,927 12,352 10,921
% of
27.6 15.1 20.8 13.8 11.4 13.8

RELIGIONS, 1861-1911 (% of population)

1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911

0.10 0.10 0.10 0.10 0.10 0.13

Church of Ireland
3.3 3.1 2.8 2.8 2.54 2.44

Roman Catholic
96.4 96.6 96.8 96.8 97.01 97.08

0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2

0.0 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.08 0.09

EMIGRATION (1861-1911)

1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911
62,173 46,339 22,132 33,081 14,426 11,278