The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today released the small area population statistics (SAPS) from the 2011 census. For the first time users will now have access to the full set of census variables at the Electoral Division (ED) and new Small Area (SA) level across Ireland. Over the last couple of weeks the All-Island Research Observatory (AIRO) has been working closely with the CSO to provide the public with a new set of mapping tools that will allow users take full advantage of the incredible amount of census data now available. This is a major step forward for evidence informed planning in Ireland and users (general public, public sector and private sector) now have access to a free and fully interactive set of on-line tools to get a better understanding of areas and regions across the country. Through AIRO we have developed a National Census Mapping Viewer and a set of individual census mapping tools for every Local and Regional Authority in the country. To get access to the main AIRO census home page use the following link:

National Census Mapping Viewer

On the National Census Mapping Viewer ( we have prepared maps for over 130 variables and have grouped them into the following 14 themes: Population, Religion, Nationality, Education, Social Class, Principal Economic Status, Industry of Employment, Occupation, Housing, Cars per Households, Transport, Communications, Health and Disability. For this mapping tool we are using ArcGIS Viewer for Flex from ESRI, a really useful mapping technology when you are dealing with a very large number of geographical boundaries (3,406 EDs and approx 18k SAs). At present we have just included the mapping at electoral division (ED) level on the national viewer, this will be updated with the full set of small area (SA) data in the coming weeks. We have, however, added unemployment data at SA level for today’s launch and so is the first time that we actually see the full scale of the unemployment problem at the very local level.

To use the tool users simply turn on a theme on the left hand panel and then ‘check’ the map of interest. Remember that you can only show one map at a time with the top checked layer being the one on display – it might take a few moments to get the hang of it but it’s fairly straight forward. To get more information about an area just click on an ED and a pop-up window will provide a very short and basic commentary and a graphic providing more information on the variable. Let’s have a look at some examples:

% Population Aged > 65 plus: This map provides a useful visualization of the distribution of the elderly population across Ireland. As expected we are seeing much higher proportions of elderly population within EDs in rural and peripheral parts of the country.

% population UK by Nationality: The nationality data available at the ED and SA level is broken down into six groupings, users can choose from Irish, UK, Polish, Lithuanian, Other EU 27 or Rest of the World. Each map provides interesting trends and certainly shows some fascinating patterns within urban areas. The map below details the distribution of those whose nationality is classed as UK. What’s striking about this map is the clear pattern of high percentages in south-west cork, north-east Clare/south Galway and a wider area of higher percentages in the Roscommon/Leitrim/Mayo area.

% of Households with Central Heating powered by Peat: There are more than 25 different variables within the housing theme on our national viewer. Maps are available on:

  • type of housing unit (detached, semi-d, flat/apartment etc)
  • age of housing unit (only 2000 to 2005 and post 2006 included at the moment – let us know if you’d like more)
  • tenure (owner occupied, rented etc)
  • type of water supply (group scheme, private scheme etc)
  • type of sewage system (public scheme, individual septic tank etc)
  • and type of fuel used for central heating system.

This last category provides some really interesting maps and shows very clear patterns throughout the country for particular types of fuel. The map below shows the distribution of households that use Peat (including turf) as the primary source of fuel for central heating systems with higher proportions in the midlands and along the western seaboard and then an almost complete absence of use in much of the rest of the country.

Local and Regional Authority Mapping Modules:

As part of the AIRO project and our growing infrastructure of free mapping tools we have now updated all of our Local Authority and Regional Authority mapping modules with the 2011 Census data for Electoral Divisions. The data within each mapping tool mimic the themes that are available for download from the CSO. In total, each mapping module now has 975 individual variables (raw counts and pre calculated percentages and ratios) and includes data from 2006 where possible. Over the next week we will start to build in the Small Area data for each LA/RA, all going well this will be done by Thursday 9th of August. We are also hoping to update all of the mapping modules for Local Partnerships but this may take some time.

To access the mapping modules go to the main AIRO census page (click here) and choose from the drop down list for either LA or RA. Just click View once you’ve made your selection. Once it’s loaded you simply just click on ‘data’ and choose your indicator and away you go.

We hope you enjoy the new tools and they prove to be useful for the work that you do. We’re happy to take comments and suggestions on additional datasets that should also be included. We’re also planning to run a number of training sessions in the coming weeks and months, again please get in touch if you or your organisation are interested.

For further information please contact AIRO at the following: email –, phone – 353 1 7086688


AIRO National Census Mapping Viewer:

Local and Regional Authority Mapping Modules:

CSO SAPSMap data download site:

Justin Gleeson & Aoife Dowling