Ireland - Demography

Demography

Main articles: Irish people, Demographics of the Republic of Ireland, and Demography of Northern Ireland

People have lived in Ireland for over 9,000 years, although only a limited amount is known about the palaeolithic, neolithic and Bronze Age inhabitants of the island. Early historical and genealogical records note the existence of dozens of different peoples that may or may not be mythological, for example the Cruithne, Attacotti, Conmaicne, Eóganachta, Érainn, and Soghain, to name but a few. Over the past 1000 years or so, Vikings, Normans, Scots and English have all added to the Gaelic population and have had significant influences on Irish Culture.

Ireland's largest religious group is Christianity. The largest denomination is Roman Catholicism representing over 73% for the island (and about 87% of the Republic of Ireland). Most of the rest of the population adhere to one of the various Protestant denominations (about 53% of Northern Ireland). The largest is the Anglican Church of Ireland. The Muslim community is growing in Ireland, mostly through increased immigration. The island has a small Jewish community. About 4% of the Republic's population and about 14% of the Northern Ireland population describe themselves as of no religion. In a 2010 survey conducted on behalf of the Irish Times, 32% of respondents said they went to a religious service more than once a week.

The population of Ireland rose rapidly from the 16th century until the mid-19th century, but a devastating famine in the 1840s caused one million deaths and forced over one million more to emigrate in its immediate wake. Over the following century the population was reduced by over half, at a time when the general trend in European countries was for populations to rise by an average of three-fold.

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