Emigration and Education Statistics, 1931, Co. Offaly


Offaly (King’s County), an inland county in the province of Leinster, is bounded on the north by county Westmeath, on the east by counties Meath and Kildare, on the south by Laois (Queen’s) and Tipperary, and no the west by counties Galway, Roscommon and Tipperary. Its greatest length from the Ollatrim River near Moneygall to the boundary near Edenderry is 52 miles and its greatest breadth from CLonmacnoise to the boundary near Frankford is 19 miles.


Offaly (King’s) County and Laois (Leix/Queen’s) were named in honour of Philip and Mary as were the towns of Philipstown and Maryborough. The baronies of Ballybrit and Clonlisk were formerly the “Ely O’Carroll” territory, the inheritance of the O’Carroll family. It extended also into Tipperary and part of the territory called Kinel Farga was owned by the O’Flanagan’s. The O’Molloy’s were settled in the ancient district of “Fircall”, co-extensive with the Baronies of Eglish, Ballyboy and Ballycowan, and formed part of the ancient province of Meath. The barony of Garrycastle, under the old name of Delvin-Ethra or Delvin MacCoghlan, was the inheritance of the MacCoghlan family. The baron of Kilcoursey was known as “Muintir-Tagan”, the territory of the O’Caharneys. The Barony of Upper Philipstown belonged to the O’Dempseys under the name of “Clanmaliere”. The most interesting group of ancient religious establishments in Ireland is at Clonmacnoise in this county, on the banks of the Shannon River, nine miles below Athlone. This was the retreat and burial place of many of the Kings of Ireland, and consists of the ruins of several churches (the “Seven-Churches”, two Round Towers, several crosses and many tombs.


The south-eastern portion of the county and the barony of Lower Philipstown is mountainous or hilly, but the rest of the county may be regarded as flat, and includes a considerable part of the Bog of Allen.

The Slieve Bloom Mountains extend to this county, and the highest summit of the range Arderin (1,733’) is on the boundary. Farbreague (1,411’) is also on the boundary, and close to the village of Kinnity stands Knocknaman (1,113’) and between this and Arderin rises Carroll’s Hill (1,584’) and Wolftrap (1,584) and Spink (1,087’) are close to the north-east. Croghan Hill (769’) near Philipstown presents an isolated appearance in the landscape.

Rivers: The River Shannon forms the western boundary of the county for 23 miles. Its tributary the Little Brosna, forms the boundary with county Tipperary for 13 miles. The Bunow rises in the county and flows by Roscrea (Co. Tipperary). The Barrow forms the boundary for about nine miles and the Boyne flowing from county Kildare makes the boundary for 4 miles. The Yellow River and the Mongagh also mark part of the boundary line. The Brosna coming from Westmeath, flows for 26 miles through the county before falling into the Shannon, near Shannonbridge. The Gageborough River, the Clodiagh, the Tullamore River, the Silver River and the Boora which discharge into the Brosna belong wholly or in part to this county. In the southern part of the county the Camcor flows through Birr. The Figile and its tributaries, the Cushina and the Slade River belong partly to this county. Another tributary is the Philipstown River which flows by the town of that name.

Lakes: None of the lakes are of great extent. The principal are Lough Roora, Lough Coura, Lough Annaghmore, Lough Pallas and Lough Fin.





Total Pop.

65,558 65,530 131,088

71,287 72,938 144,225

72,651 74,206 146,857

55,284 56,792 112,076

45,513 44,530 90,043

38,307 37,593 75,900

37,106 35,746 72,852

33,777 31,786 65,563

31,065 29,122 60,187

29,804 27,028 56,832

27,499 25,022 52,592

Families and Houses in 1926

The number of families in the county was 11,455 the average number in each family being 4.4 The number of inhabited houses was 11,364, showing an average of 4.6 persons to each house. The special inhabitants of public institutions are omitted from these calculations.

There were in the county 9,022 Occupiers or Heads of Families, who were in occupation of less than five rooms, being 77.8% of the total for the county. Of these 417 or 3.6% of the families in the county occupied one room; 1,776 or 15.5%, two rooms; 4,301 or 37.5%, three rooms; and 2,528 or 21.2%, occupied four rooms.

There were in the county 178 tenements in which the room had only one occupant; 180 cases where the room had 2-4 occupants, 53 cases in which there were 5-7 occupants and 6 cases where the occupants of one room exceeded 7 in number, including one case where ten persons occupied the same room.

Birthplace of Inhabitants

Of the population in 1926, XXXX% were born in the county, 16.63 % in other counties in Saorstat Eireann. 0.40% in Northern Ireland, 1.08% in Great Britain, and 0.51% were born abroad.


In 1911 there were in the county 47,586 persons aged 9 years and upwards; of these 41.960 or 88.2% could read and write; 1,736 or 3.6% could read only and 3,890 or 8.2% 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 16.4% in 1891, 12.4% in 1901 and in 1911 had fallen to 10.6%.

IRISH SPEAKING (1861-1911)

of people
1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911

Irish only
0 1 4 0 0 0

Irish & English
396 245 527 324 522 1,933

Irish Total
396 246 531 324 522 1,933
% of
0.4 0.8 0.7 0.5 0.9 3.4

RELIGIONS, 1871-1926 (% of population)

1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 1926

Roman Catholic
88.8 89.3 88.9 89.40 90.05 92.6

Church of Ireland
9.9 9.4 9.8 9.16 8.63 6.49

0.4 9.4 0.4 0.59 0.62 0.28

0.5 0.6 0.7 0.65 0.48 0.39

0.4 0.3 0.2 0.20 0.22 0.24

EMIGRATION (1861-1911)

1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911
21,061 12,140 8,778 12,367 3,708 3,292