Emigration and Education Statistics, 1931, Co. Roscommon


Roscommon, an inland county, is bounded on the north by counties Sligo and Leitrim, on the east by counties Leitrim, Longford and Westmeath, on the south by Offaly (King’s county) and Galway and on the west by Galway and Mayo. Its greatest length is 60 miles and its greatest breadth from Rooskey to a point west of Lough Errit, is 33 ½ miles.


The name of the county is derived from that of the town. In the beginning of the 8th century, St. Coman founded a monastery here and the place was called from his name “Ros-Comain” Coman’s Wood.

The district formerly called Moylurg, of which MacDermott was the chief, extended from the Curlieu Mountains on the north to Elphin on the south, from the River Shannon to Lough Gara; and is known in modern times as the Plains of Boyle. South of this Moy-Ai or Maghery-Connaught (the Plain of Connaught) extends from Elphin to the town of Roscommon and east and west from Strokestown to Castlereagh. The old territory of Hy Many originally included the part of Roscommon lying south of Lanesborough and the town of Roscommon, it also formed the territories called Delvin Nuadat. The portion lying between Elphin and the Shannon and extending north and south from Jamestown on the Shannon to the north part of Lough Ree was called the “Three Tuathas” or territories, i.e. “Keriel Dofa,” between Slieve Bawn and the Shannon; “Corcachlann” to the west and “Tir Briuin of the Shannon” north of these two.


The Arigna mines near the River Arigna are well known, and part of the Connaught coal field runs into this county.

There are no extensive or high Mountain Ranges in the county. The Curlieu Range runs along the boundary between Roscommon and Sligo, but the highest point is not much over 800 feet. The Slieve-bawn Hills, south-east of Strokestown, running parallel with the River Shannon, rise to about the same elevation. The highest point in the county, (1,377’) is on the Leitrim boundary at the extreme north.

The Lakes are dotted all over the county, but only a few of them are of any importance. In the north, is Lough Key, a very fine lake, 3 ½ square miles in extent, on the shores of which stand the beautiful demesne of Rockingham; on an island in the lake is the old castle of the MacDermotts, the proprietors of the surrounding district. The lakes on the River Shannon which extend into the county are Lough Ree, Lough Forbes, Lough Bofin, Lough Boderg and Lough Allen. Near the town of Lough Glinn stands the lake of that name, and in the same part of the county are Loughs Errit, Cloonagh and Cloonacolly. Near Ballinlough Lough O’Flynn is of considerable size. South of Elphin is Kilglass Lake, 2 miles in length. South of Strokestown are Loughs Clonfree, Ardakillen and Finn. In the south are Lough Funshinagh, Lough Croan and Corkip Lake.

The River Shannon forms the whole of the eastern boundary of this county. The Suck rises in Mayo and soon passes into Roscommon where it runs through Lough O’Flynn and passing by Castlerea, forms for about 50 miles the boundary between Roscommon and county Galway, till it joins the River Shannon near Shannon Bridge. The Arigna flows mostly through the northern part of the county, into the Shannon. The Boyle River flows through the “Plains of Boyle” from Lough Gara to Lough Key, and thence to the Shannon. Other rivers are the Breedogue and the Lung.





Total Pop.

104,519 104,210 208,729

123,031 126,582 249,613

127,016 126,575 253,591

86,411 87,025 173,436

79,841 77,431 157,272

70,647 70,023 140,670

66,657 65,833 132,490

58,000 56,397 114,397

51,233 50,558 101,791

48,522 45,434 93,956

43,283 40,221 83,556

Families and Houses in 1926

The number of families in the county was 18,902 the average number in each family being 4.3 The number of inhabited houses was 18,883, 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 16,295 Occupiers or Heads of Families, who were in occupation of less than five rooms, being 86.21% of the total for the county. Of these 403 or 2.13% of the families in the county occupied one room; 2,157 or 11.41%, two rooms; 10,657 or 56.39%, three rooms; and 3,078 or 16.28%, occupied four rooms.

There were in the county 204 tenements in which the room had only one occupant; 164 cases where the room had 2-4 occupants, 50 cases in which there were 5-7 occupants and 11 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, 88.62% were born in the county, 9.8 % in other counties in Saorstat Eireann. 0.35% in Northern Ireland, 0.69% in Great Britain, and 0.54% were born abroad.


In 1911 there were in the county 78,148 persons aged 9 years and upwards; of these 68,012 or 87.1% could read and write; 2,440 or 3.1% could read only and 7,696 or 9.8% 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 18.2% in 1891, 13.4% in 1901 and in 1911 had fallen to 11.9%.

IRISH SPEAKING (1861-1911)

of people
1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911

Irish only
530 739 95 21 55 14

Irish & English
32,616 17,364 21,494 11,864 15,317 10,099

Irish Total
33,146 18,103 21,589 11,885 15,372 10,113
% of
31.8 12.9 16.3 13.0 20.9 20.1

RELIGIONS, 1871-1926 (% of population)

1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 1926

Roman Catholic
96.1 96.5 96.4 97.34 97.63 98.4

Church of Ireland
3.4 3.1 3.1 2.23 2.01 1.37

0.3 0.2 0.3 0.25 0.21 0.13

0.1 0.1 0.1 0.10 0.07 0.02

0.1 0.1 0.1 0.08 0.08 0.08

EMIGRATION (1861-1911)

1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911
27,756 21,393 13,790 23,128 16,322 11,070