Emigration and Education Statistics, 1931, Co. Meath

Thom’s Directory of Ireland, 1931


Meath, a maritime county in the province of Leinster, is bounded on the north by counties Cavan, Monaghan and Louth, and on the east by the Irish Sea and county Dublin, on the south by counties Dublin, Kildare and Offaly (King’s), and on the west by Westmeath. Its greatest length from Delvin River to Lough Sheelin is about 48 miles and its greatest breadth from Yellow River to Ballyhoe Lake is 40 miles.


The ancient name was Midhe (Middle), the old province being the middle one of Ireland. The present county was part of the ancient Kingdom of Meath. The two baronies of Deece were formerly occupied by the Desi who lived in the district south of Tara. The baronies of Upper and Lower Slane was anciently called Hy-Criffan. Three well known places in Meathare historic. Tara, the residence of the Kings of Ireland lies six miles south of Navan. Taillteun (now Teltown) was the scene of the old Irish Olympic games and Tiachta, now the Hill of Ward, lies near Athboy.


Mountains: Meath is mostly level with large tracts of rich pasture land. The highest point in the county is Carnbane (904’) in the Slieve na Calliagh or Loughcrew Range, east of Oldcastle. Slieve Gullion (640’) and Seafin (661’) have fine views. Four miles north of Slane is Slieve Bregh (753’) forms part of the range running through county Louth.

The Boyne River coming from counties Offaly (King’s) and Kildare forms the boundary of the county for 8 miles from the Yellow River. It passes by Trim, Navan and Slane before it disappears into Louth. It has several tributaries: the Blackwater joins it at Navan, the Mattock at Oldbridge, the Tremblestown near Athboy, the Stoneyford, the Dale and the Yellow River. In the north part of the county the Dee flows into Louth. The Nanny Water which rises near Navan flows almost parallel with the Boyne and south of it, and passes near Duleek. The Delvin River forms the boundary between counties Meath and Dublin for 8 miles before falling into the sea at Gormanstown. The Broad Meadow, the Swords, the Tolka and the Rye Water have parts of their courses in the county of Meath.

Lakes: A portion of Lough Sheelin belongs to county Meath. Lough Ervey is on the boundary with Cavan, Lough Rahan and Ballhoe is on that with Monaghan, and on the Westmeath boundary are several lakes which partly belong to county Meath, among them being Lough Bane, White Lough and Lough Naneagh. The lakes in the interior do not call for any notice.


Year Males Females Total Pop.
1821 79,778 79,405 159,183
1831 88,993 87,833 176,826
1841 92,494 91,334 183,828
1851 70,813 69,935 140,748
1861 55,800 54,573 110,373
1871 48,437 47,121 95,558
1881 44,315 43,154 87,469
1891 39,224 37,763 76,987
1901 34,757 32,740 67,497
1911 33,934 31,157 65,091
1926 33,005 29,904 62,969

Families and Houses in 1926

The number of families in the county was 14,393 the average number in each family being 4.2 The number of inhabited houses was 14,398, showing an average of 4.4 persons to each house. The special inhabitants of public institutions are omitted from these calculations.

There were in the county 10,823 Occupiers or Heads of Families, who were in occupation of less than five rooms, being 75.2% of the total for the county. Of these 310 or 2.2% of the families in the county occupied one room; 1,729 or 12%, two rooms; 3,901 or 27.1%, three rooms; and 4,883 or 33.9%, occupied four rooms.

There were in the county 156 tenements in which the room had only one occupant; 119 cases where the room had 2-4 occupants, 31 cases in which there were 5-7 occupants and 4 cases where the occupants of one room exceeded 7 in number, including one case where nine persons occupied the same room.

Birthplace of Inhabitants

Of the population in 1926, 79.99% were born in the county, 17.28% in other counties in Saorstat Eireann. 0.99% in Northern Ireland, 1.29% in Great Britain, and 0.45% were born abroad.


In 1911 there were in the county 54,239 persons aged 9 years and upwards; of these 48,182 or 88.9% could read and write; 1,745 or 3.2% could read only and 4,312 or 7.9% 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 16.3% in 1891, 12.5% in 1901 and in 1911 had fallen to 10.5%.

IRISH SPEAKING (1861-1911)

of people
1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911

Irish only
2 37 0 0 0 0

Irish & English
5,414 2,165 3,531 1,492 1,357 2,447
% of
4.9 2.3 4.0 1.9 2.0 3.8

RELIGIONS, 1871-1926 (% of population)

1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 1926

Roman Catholic
93.3 93.45 93.12 92.81 93.19 94.93

Church of Ireland
6.1 6.05 6.25 6.51 6.06 4.59

0.4 0.37 0.48 0.49 0.54 0.29

0.1 0.08 0.09 0.10 0.09 0.02

0.1 0.05 0.06 0.09 0.12 0.17

EMIGRATION (1861-1911)

1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911
23,297 15,557 10,521 11,264 4,358 3,416