In the last couple of days I’ve been asked to comment on two issues around property data, both relating to vacancy (though we could easily have a similar discussion with regards to housing completions, homelessness, etc).  The first relates to housing vacancy and a report by Fingal County Council that contends that the vacancy levels in the local authority have been ‘grossly overstated’. The second about commercial vacancy and present rates. In both cases it’s difficult to provide strong answers because systematic data collection with respect to both is problematic and the state does not provide official data on either, except on housing vacancy every five years through the census which is a sub-optimal timeframe to be working from.

With respect to housing vacancy. I can’t find the report or press release from Fingal CC, but a story in the Irish Times reports that they believe vacancy levels are well below those reported in the census. It’s difficult to assess fully whether that’s the case without seeing the full methodology or data. What is reported in the IT is:

“The council initially conducted a desktop exercise on the 3,000 supposedly vacant properties. When commercial properties, as well as those in construction or in the planning process, were eliminated the figure fell to 361 properties. ”  They then visited 74 of the 361 homes to check on occupancy, though it’s not stated how those 74 were sampled.

Of those 74 visited, they discovered that only 13 were actually vacant. In other words, rather than having a vacancy rate of 5% (as reported in the 2016 census – 4,944 vacant units + 289 holiday homes), they have a rate of about 1% – far below what might be an expected base vacancy level of 6% (there are always some units vacant due to selling, gaps between renting, working temporarily elsewhere, people in healthcare, etc.). I have no doubt in the 18 months since the census in April 2016 properties that were vacant will have been occupied, however it seems unlikely that vacancy is so far below base vacancy, which is what the IT piece seems to be suggesting.

In terms of method it is unlikely that the CSO shared the individual addresses of vacant properties as identified in the census with Fingal. But if they were working from census data then it does not include commercial properties, nor properties under-construction, or in the planning process, or derelict. So removing those properties from census counts would make no sense – they were never counted by the CSO. Indeed, in a rebuttal story in the Irish Times, the CSO stand over their data and method – which is to send enumerators to every property in the country, to visit upwards of ten times if they fail to get an answer, and to talk to neighbours to try and ascertain the use status. I’m assuming that Fingal got their data instead from Geodirectory who source the information on occupancy from postal workers delivering or not mail. How accurate those data are I’m not sure and presumably the company would stand over their fidelity.

Regardless of the method, there is clearly a large discrepancy between what Fingal CC are finding on the ground in their small sample and what the census enumerators found 18 months ago, and presumably what An Post workers are finding. That discrepancy suggests we need a much more systematic and timely way of generating data on housing vacancy.  The government have set up a crowdsourcing means to generate vacancy information – – where members of the public can log homes that they think are vacant, which can then be checked by local authority staff. There are well known problems with crowdsourcing such information, including coverage, representativeness and keeping the data up-to-date, and these data certainly could not be used as official statistics. Much more realistic would be a quarterly vacancy survey (much like the quarterly household survey) – probably carried out by the CSO who have no vested interest in local housing/planning data.

In terms of commercial vacancy, the state produces no statistics on the rates of vacancy for offices, retail units or industrial sites. It is a massive hole in our knowledge of the property sector. The only data that are produced are those by Geodirectory (which are limited in detail) or the property sector itself (hardly an unvested party, and the data are a product and can disappear from websites or go behind paywalls, and lack spatial granularity – usually just Dublin/rest of country or regions). In relation to commercial properties there is also a need to understand their characteristics, such as type, spec, condition, location, etc. as well as the size of space vacant, not just how many units. For example, imagine that there are ten units on a high street.  Nine of them are 1000 sqm in size and one is 5000 sqm.  If the larger unit is vacant then the vacancy rate per unit is 10 percent. However, the vacancy rate by floor area is 35 percent.  In other words, one cannot simply look at the absolute number of vacant units, rather we also need to consider the type and size of the units that are vacant. Trying to prepare local and county development plans with a fuzzy knowledge of existing development is a sub-optimal way of conducting planning and can lead to oversupply and property crashes (as per the last 20 years). Like housing, we therefore need good, reliable, timely data to understand the commercial property sector and we need the state to produce them.

In my view, there needs to be a branch-and-root review of property data in Ireland. This needs to start with asking the question: what data do we need to generate to best understand planning, housing, commercial property, infrastructure need, etc? Then to discover where the gaps are and to review the veracity and fidelity and fit-for-purpose of existing data generation and to fix as necessary. This includes assessing whether the data are being generated by the most appropriate generator. We then need to put in place the processes to produce those data.

With good quality data that people trust we might avoid different agencies producing wildly varying estimates of some element of housing or commercial property, such as vacancy rates, and we would greatly aid our planning and economic development. However, if we carry on as we are, we’re going to continue to fly half-blind and only have a partial or flawed understanding of present conditions and we are going to replicate mistakes of the past.

Rob Kitchin

Since the launch of Census 2011 the AIRO mapping team have developed a series of interactive mapping tools to visualise the results on a national and local authority/regional authority level (see here). This has been a joint project with the Central Statistics Office (CSO) and to date has been very successful with a high number of users viewing and interacting with this publically funded dataset. The aim of this collaboration was to improve access to the results of Census 2011 and thereby make a contribution towards improving evidence informed planning in Ireland. Over the last couple of weeks the team have been working on the recently released Place of Work, School or College Census of Anonymised Records (POWSCAR) dataset.

This dataset contains 2.78 million records where the location of the place of work, school or college was coded for each person on the basis of the reply that was given to Question 34 on  the census form: “What is the Full Name and Address of your place of work, school or college”.

Using this information the CSO matched the employer/school name and address against addresses on the An Post GeoDirectory. In the case of workers, where the coder could not find an exact match they coded to a near match if they could find a GeoDirectory address on the same street or in the same town as the address stated on the form. In the case of students, an exact match was only accepted for the school or college address. The coordinates retrieved from the GeoDirectory match were then linked back to the place of work, school or college Electoral District (ED) and Town and Small Area by superimposing digital boundaries. In some cases it was not possible to match the destination of the worker/student with GeoDirectory, this was a result of a very poor return of address information or the workers destination was classed as being ‘mobile’.  The final dataset is effectively an origin-destination matrix that links the place of residence of the worker/student, either at Electoral Division (ED) or Small Area (SA) level, to the work/school/college destination of the worker/student at the ED, SA and 250m grid level. The dataset contain a wealth of information about each work trip such as age, gender, industry of employment, education level, mode of transport, household occupancy status, one-off housing indicator, socio-economic group etc. Similar data is available about those attending schools/college although not as detailed and much of the data is compressed for disclosure reasons – we will do a further piece on this in a couple of weeks.

In 2011, places of work, school or college with an address in Northern Ireland were also coded in the same way by utilising the NI Pointer address database. NI County, Ward, Towns (2001) and 2001 Census output areas were derived by superimposing digital boundaries. This is a big step forward in understanding the cross-border travel to work catchments that exist in Ireland and the CSO should be commended for realising the benefits of going this extra step in the development of this dataset. Where the person indicated a work, school or college address abroad these records were coded to a specific code to indicate that the person was working abroad i.e. outside Ireland or Northern Ireland.

Due to the level of detail available within the dataset it is not as ‘open’ as the rest of the Census 2011. As there are some minor risks to data disclosure, use of the dataset is restricted and is only available to bone fide researchers who are approved by CSO and signed up as Officers of Statistics for the duration of the research they propose to undertake. A key point on all of this is that All material published from POWSCAR must be approved in advance by CSO.

The following table gives a summary of the POWSCAR address coding process:

  Students Workers Total %
Persons in private households or establishmentsenumerated and resident in Ireland 1,013,292 1,770,644 2,783,936 100.0
Place of work, school or college address (Q34)was matched to a GeoDirectory address point 929,154 1,362,742 2,291,896 82.3
Place of work, school or college address (Q34)blank or uncodeable 78,956 147,251 226,207 8.1
No fixed place of work indicated at Q34 148,177 148,177 5.3
Works from home indicated in Q34 106,055 106,055 3.8
Place of work, school or college address (Q34)was matched to a NI Pointer database addresspoint 3,117 6,419 9,536 0.3
Place of work, school or college address (Q34)overseas 1,447   0.1
Home school indicated at Q34 618   0.0


To get started on work with the POWSCAR dataset the AIRO team have developed travel to work catchments for all 22 Gateways and Hubs and made these accessible via an interactive mapping tool. Each map is based on the percentage of workers within each ED that work within the selected settlement boundary (boundaries based on CSO Settlements). Our analysis here is only based on the workfore where we have information on the destination of workers and therefore excludes those classed as Mobile workers (148,177 or 10% of workers) and workers with an uncodable or Blank destination (147,251 or 9.9%). Users can select a settlement to view the extent of the catchment and then click on an ED to get information on the number/percentage of workers employed within the selected settlement.

The map below details the extent of the travel to work catchment for the Dublin City settlement boundary, an area of about 317 sqkm and including all major employment locations in the local authorities of Dublin City, South County Dublin and DLR. The settlement boundary does not however include many of the large employment locations in south Fingal such as Dublin Airport, Swords, Malahide and Portmarnock. In total there are 457,046 people with a work destination in the Dublin Settlement boundary. Of these, 74% also reside within the Dublin City settlement and 26% reside outside the settlement boundary highlighting the high levels of inward commuting. Of the workers who reside within the Dublin City settlement boundary a total of 12.5% (48,801) commute out of the settlement to employmant destinations.

Red areas on the map highlight where >50% of the workers in an ED are employed within the settlement boundary. The orange band represents areas where over 30% of workers in an ED commute to the Dublin settlement boundary and extend to towns such as Drogheda, Ashbourne, Maynooth, Newbridge, Blessington and Wicklow town. The pale orange band is  based on 10% to 30% of workers and extends much further towards the Mid East, Midlands and parts of the Border region with towns such as Kells, Navan, Mullingar, Portarlington, Portlaoise, Gorey and Dundalk.

To access the tool and view the different catchments for all Gateways and Hubs please click here.  In the map viewer, click on an area to get specific information on that ED.

A link to the tool is also available on our census mapping home page on the AIRO site where you can also access other mapping tools developed over the last number of months. View Census Mapping home page

This is the first step at mapping the travel to work catchments for the main settlements in Ireland. We’re hoping to do some additional work on job’s desnity within settlements and also roll out catchments for other towns. Happy to take suggestions on what is useful for planners, policy makers and general public who would find this information of use.

Justin Gleeson & Eoghan McCarthy

Today saw the publication of Measuring Ireland’s Progress 2011 by the Central Statistics Office.  Based on 109 indicators, the report provides a fascinating summary of (a) how Ireland has changed over the past decade as it has transitioned from the Celtic Tiger to the crash; (b) a comparison of how Ireland is performing with respect to 32 other European countries.  The full report is here and a short, but detailed, summary is here.

In total, data is provided with respect to 109 indicators covering 10 domains and 49 sub-domains.  I’ve list all these domains, sub-domains and indicators below to illustrate the richness of this resource for making sense of how Ireland was faring economically, socially and environmentally in 2011.  The report is well illustrated with graphs and maps, and provides data in table form.  Well worth a read if you want to get a synoptic overview of the country vis-a-vis the past and our neighbours.

1. Economy

Gross Domestic Product

1.1 Ireland: GDP and GNI
1.2 EU: GDP and GNI at current market prices
1.3 EU: GDP growth rates
1.4 EU: GDP per capita in Purchasing Power Standards

Government debt

1.5 Ireland, EU and Eurozone: General government consolidated gross debt
1.6 EU: General government consolidated gross debt
1.7 EU: General government consolidated gross debt map

Public balance

1.8 EU: Public balance map
1.9 Ireland and Eurozone: Public balance
1.10 EU: Public balance
1.11 Ireland: Central and Local Government current expenditure

Gross fixed capital formation

1.12 Ireland and EU: Gross fixed capital formation
1.13 EU: Gross fixed capital formation

International transactions

1.14 EU: Current account balance
1.15 EU: Direct investment flows

International trade

1.16 EU: Exports of goods and services
1.17 EU: Imports of goods and services

Exchange rates

1.18 International: Bilateral euro exchange rates
1.19 Ireland: Harmonised competitiveness indicator

Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices

1.20 Ireland and EU: Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices
1.21 EU: Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices

Price levels

1.22 Ireland and EU: Comparative price levels of final consumption by private households
including indirect taxes
1.23 EU: Comparative price levels of final consumption by private households including
indirect taxes

2. Innovation and technology

Science and technology

2.1 Ireland: Mathematics, science and technology graduates


2.2 EU: Mathematics, science and technology PhDs awarded

Research and development expenditure

2.3 Ireland and EU: Gross domestic expenditure on R&D
2.4 EU: Gross domestic expenditure on R&D

Patent applications

2.5 Ireland and EU: European Patent Office applications
2.6 EU: European Patent Office applications

Household Internet access

2.7 Ireland: Private households with a computer connected to the Internet
2.8 EU: Private households with Internet access

3. Employment and unemployment

Employment rate

3.1 Ireland: Employment rates by sex
3.2 EU: Employment rates by sex

Labour productivity

3.3 Ireland: GDP in Purchasing Power Standards per hour worked and per person employed
3.4 EU: GDP in Purchasing Power Standards per person employed

Unemployment rate

3.5 Ireland and EU: Unemployment rates
3.6 EU: Unemployment rates by sex
3.7 Ireland and EU: Long-term unemployment rates
3.8 EU: Long-term unemployment rates by sex

Jobless households

3.9 Ireland: Population aged 18-59 living in jobless households
3.10 EU: Population aged 18-59 living in jobless households

Older workers

3.11 EU: Employment rate of persons aged 55-64 by sex

4. Social cohesion

Social protection expenditure

4.1 Ireland and EU: Social protection expenditure
4.2 EU: Social protection expenditure in Purchasing Power Parities per capita
4.3 EU: Social protection expenditure by type

Risk of poverty

4.4 EU: At risk of poverty rates
4.5 Ireland: At risk of poverty rates by age and sex
4.6 Ireland: Persons in consistent poverty by age and sex
4.7 Ireland: Persons in consistent poverty by principal economic status

Gender pay gap

4.8 EU: Gender pay gap

Voter turnout

4.9 Ireland: Numbers voting in Dáil elections
4.10 EU: Votes recorded at national parliamentary elections

Official development assistance

4.11 Ireland: Net official development assistance
4.12 EU: Net official development assistance

5. Education

Education expenditure

5.1 Ireland: Real current public expenditure on education
5.2 Ireland: Student numbers by level
5.3 EU: Public expenditure on education

Pupil-teacher ratio

5.4 EU: Ratio of students to teachers
5.5 EU: Primary and lower secondary average class size

Third-level education

5.6 Ireland: Persons aged 25-34 with third-level education
5.7 EU: Persons aged 25-34 with third-level education by sex


5.8 Ireland: Student performance on the reading, mathematical and scientific literacy

scales by sex

5.9 EU: Student performance on the reading, mathematical and scientific literacy scales

Early school leavers

5.10 Ireland: Early school leavers by labour force status and sex
5.11 Ireland: Proportion of the population aged 20-64 with at least upper secondary education
5.12 EU: Early school leavers

6. Health

Health care expenditure

6.1 Ireland: Current public expenditure on health care
6.2 EU: Total expenditure on health as percentage of GDP

Life expectancy

6.3 Ireland: Life expectancy at birth and at age 65 by sex
6.4 EU: Life expectancy at birth by sex

7. Population

Population distribution

7.1 Ireland: Population distribution by age group
7.2 Ireland: Household composition
7.3 EU: Population
7.4 EU: Population change


7.5 Ireland: Migration and natural increase
7.6 Ireland: Immigration by country of origin
7.7 Ireland and EU: Rate of natural increase of population
Age of population 7.8 Ireland: Age dependency ratio
7.9 EU: Young and old as proportion of population aged 15-64


7.10 Ireland and EU: Total fertility rate
7.11 EU: Total fertility rate

Lone parent families

7.12 Ireland: Lone parent families with children aged under 20 by sex of parent

Living alone

7.13 Ireland: Persons aged 65 and over living alone by sex


7.14 EU: Divorce rate

8. Housing

Dwelling completions

8.1 Ireland: Dwellings completed
8.2 Ireland: Nature of occupancy of private households


8.3 Ireland: Housing loans paid
8.4 Eurozone: Interest rates for household mortgages (new business)

9. Crime

Recorded crimes and detection

9.1 Ireland: Recorded crimes by type of offence rates

9.2 Ireland: Detection rates for recorded crimes

Recorded incidents

9.3 Ireland: Recorded incidents of driving/in charge of a vehicle while over legal alcohol
limit per 100,000 population
9.4 Ireland: Recorded incidents of burglary per 100,000 population
9.5 Ireland: Recorded incidents of controlled drug offences per 100,000 population


9.6 Ireland: Recorded victims of murder/manslaughter

10. Environment

Greenhouse gases

10.1 Ireland: Total net greenhouse gas emissions
10.2 EU: Net greenhouse gas emissions and Kyoto 2008-2012 target

Energy intensity of economy

10.3 Ireland: Gross inland consumption of energy divided by GDP
10.4 EU: Gross inland consumption of energy divided by GDP

River water quality

10.5 Ireland: River water quality

Urban air quality

10.6 Ireland: Particulate matter in urban areas

Acid rain precursors

10.7 Ireland: Acid rain precursor emissions

Waste management

10.8 Ireland: Total municipal waste generated, recovered and landfilled
10.9 EU: Municipal waste generated and treated


10.10 Ireland: Private cars under current licence
10.11 EU: Passenger cars per 1,000 population aged 15 and over
10.12 Ireland and EU: Share of road transport in total inland freight transport
10.13 EU: Share of road transport in total inland freight transport
10.14 Ireland and EU: Index of inland freight transport volume
10.15 EU: Index of inland freight transport volume


Rob Kitchin

Since the launch of our National Census Mapping Viewer we’ve have been doing some additional work on the Small Area (SA) datasets and are now in a position to add the new maps to the viewer. The availability of SA level data is a major step forward for socio-demographic mapping and evidence informed planning in Ireland and provides a completely new insight to the trends and patterns that are in place across the country.

If we take Maynooth as an example we can see that up to this point the best level of data we had was for the Maynooth ED as a whole. The introduction of the new SA geography now means that Maynooth can be broken down into 49 individual pieces of information for each census variable. As you can imagine this allows for a much greater level of analysis and understanding of what’s happening in the town when looking at variables such as unemployment, population cohorts (0-14, 65plus etc), health, disability, housing type etc.

This morning we’ve added SA maps to the ‘Population’, ‘Religion’ and ‘Nationality’ themes. Users now have a choice of viewing each variable at either the ED or SA spatial scale. Rather than keeping the legends the same for each variable (at ED and SA level) we have opted to let the data distribution define the legends by using ‘natural breaks’ for each variable. For example, this means that a yellow colour on the ED map may not be the exact same range as on the SA map. This is just something to be aware of. Some examples of the maps are below:

Population 65 plus in DLR at SA level

Polish population in Cork City at SA level

Religion (No Religion/Not Stated) mapping in Sligo at SA level

Over the next week we are going to add to the other themes and have organised a release schedule as follows:

  • Population, Religion and Nationality: Friday, 31th August
  • Education and Social Class: Monday, 3rd Sept
  • Principal Economic Status, Industry of Employment and Occupation: Wednesday, 5th Sept
  • Housing, Transport and Communication: Friday, 7th Sept
  • Health and Disability: Monday, 10th September

You can access the National Census Mapping Viewer here:

To view all our other census mapping tools click here: AIRO Census home page

AIRO team

Having generated interactive mapping tools at Electoral Division level on the 31st of July, AIRO has expanded the CSO Census 2011 mapping toolkit to include data using the latest Small Areas boundary set.  In total 130 maps and 975 variables are available across 15 themes.

Small Area boundaries (created by the National Centre of Geocomputation at NUI Maynooth for Ordnance Survey Ireland) are considerably smaller than Electoral Divisions and offer a significantly better level of detail in terms of analysing data spatially. There are approximately 18,488 Small Area units in comparison to 3,409 Electoral Divisions. A Small Area boundary is usually comprised of approximately 80-100 households per unit and have an average size of 3.5km2. In comparison, an Electoral Division can has an average size of over 20km2. When analysing data spatially at Electoral Division level much of the detail is lost across the larger boundary area. With the Small Areas data, the user is now in a position to analyse data that in certain areas can be viewed at housing estate level.

Compare the two maps in the image below. They both contain the same data (% Population Unemployed 2011) but one is mapped at Electoral Division level and the other at Small Area. Note the increase level of detail and the differing distributions across the Dublin area. The increased level of detail allows users to identify trends and patterns in local areas that previously would have been overlooked.


How to explore Census 2011 data at Small Areas Level:

On the AIRO site go to the Census mapping module section and select the “Local Authority Module”. Choose which local authority you wish to analyse and within the map window use the “Data” button to select what Census data you wish to view and the “Change Geography” button to select Electoral Division or Small Area level geography.

Aoife Dowling and Eoghan McCarthy


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

The CSO’s residential property price index for June was published yesterday.  After a slight rise of 0.2% in prices nationally in May, the index fell by -1.1% in June.  So after the speculation in the media that property prices might have levelled off, especially in Dublin, it’s back to wondering when they might bottom out.  Last month we argued that we would need 6-9 months of prices staying even or rising slightly before the bottom could be called, that the rise was very marginal at 0.2% and prices were still falling for apartments, and pointed out that as prices have fallen since the peak in 2007 they have gone through periods where the drops have slowed down before falling again (see the interactive graph produced by AIRO).  In other words, not too much should be read into last month’s data as we need a time-series of data before we can talk about a trend with confidence.

There are also other reasons to be cautious about interpreting the data, which are based on mortgage transactions by eight lenders and constitute a three month rolling average.   Here are five of them.

First, because the market is so weak the number of transactions per month is relatively small.  Second, those transactions relate to a market that is not representative of the full range of stock that would be open to the market in normal conditions.  The present market contains a lot of distressed stock and many homeowners are keeping their properties off the market whilst prices are falling.  Third, as yet, the index does not include cash sales which the property sector are suggesting account for up to 30% of the market.  Fourth, due to the first three reasons the CSO itself warns that the index is subject to short-term volatility (“care should still be taken when interpreting monthly figures which may indicate short-term volatility rather than underlying change in longer term price trends”).

Fifth, the data are very circumscribed geographically providing an overview at the national scale, for Dublin only, and nationally excluding Dublin.  The housing market is geographically segmented and becoming more so in the crash.  Areas vary in the type and quality of stock available.  They have varying economic conditions, labour market activity and rates of unemployment.  They have different demographic trends, with some areas experiencing out-migration.  Those looking to buy in different areas have varying access to mortgage credit and some areas are redlined (it is just about impossible to get a mortgage for an apartment outside the four principle cities).  Areas have different rates of oversupply.  Housing vacancy is above 10% just about everywhere except Dublin, Kildare and Meath.  Apartment vacancy is above 18% everywhere and above 40% in a number of local authorities.  As constituted, the CSO index tells us very little with respect to how the market is spatially segmented.  The best data we have for that is the AIRO/DAFT house price mapping tool that provides asking price data 2007-2012 for 2, 3, 4 bed properties for c.1100 areas.  What that data shows is that the range of asking price drops varies from -35% to -65% across the country dependent on the factors above.

So where does that leave us?  Basically, as the CSO itself notes, care needs to be taken when interpreting the RPPI.  Whilst the index provides us with a good long-term overview of the trend in prices nationally and in Dublin, we should be careful not to read too much into monthly figures without putting them into the context of the longer trend and the various limitations with the data.  Moreover, we should be careful about drawing conclusions about local prices from the generalized large-scale aggregations (a classic ecological fallacy issue).  As the AIRO/DAFT data illustrates, National/Dublin aggregated figures are hiding a lot of local variability.  Hopefully, the new house price register might help, though it will not extend back to the peak in 2007 (it will start with 2010).

What is clear from the long-term trend is that prices have fallen substantially from the peak and they are still very fragile and are liable to fall further.  It is only with a run of data where prices are level or rising that the bottom can be called (and the depth of the bottom and its timing will vary around the country depending on the factors above).  Any attempt to call the bottom before then and to talk up the market will be premature.

Rob Kitchin

The latest CSO house price report has been released by the CSO.  What the data show is that “Residential property prices grew [nationally] by 0.2% in the month of May. In Dublin residential property prices rose by 0.2% in May but were 17.5% lower than a year ago. Dublin house prices increased by 0.5% in the month but were 17.7% lower compared to a year earlier. Dublin apartment prices were 16.3% lower when compared with the same month of 2011.  The price of residential properties in the Rest of Ireland (i.e. excluding Dublin) rose by 0.1% in May … Prices were 14.2% lower than in May 2011.

The piece of data that the media are likely to focus on is that Dublin houses have now not fallen for three months in a row, growing very marginally each month.  In other words, prices for Dublin houses seem to be potentially stablising.  Before we get ahead of ourselves my view would be that prices have to stabilise for at least 6-9 months before we can start to call the bottom as the market is still fragile and there have been other periods on the way down where it appeared to level off before then falling again.  Moreover, the year-on-year reduction is still large.  Dublin apartments still seem fragile – they have fallen the most from peak (61%), fell again last month after two months of not falling further.  Nationally, excluding Dublin, seems fragile still and one would expect prices to fall as much as Dublin prices in the long term given levels of oversupply outside the principal cities.  Dublin does have relatively normal levels of housing vacancy (4.9% according to Census 2011) but not apartments (18.6%), so it does seem supply/demand might be coming into line for houses (particularly in South Dublin where vacancy is 3.4%) but certainly not apartments.  There is oversupply of houses and apartments everywhere else, including the other cities.  It should also be noted that the CSO index does not including cash sales and is based on a relatively small number of transactions.

Basically what this means, is whilst the indications are positive for Dublin houses, we should be careful not to read too much into the data until we have a time-series of stabilisation, and the property market remains very fragile.

Rob Kitchin

Yesterday the CSO released a new tranche of the Census 2011 results. The new tables relate to the population of towns and rural areas and population by area.  We’ve taken the data an visualized it on AIRO as interactive maps and graphs:

Map of population and population of towns (see map below)

Components of Population Change 2011 (Birth,Deaths & Migration)

Urban/Rural Population Split at County Level – Census 2011

Irish Towns categorised by Population, Area and Change (see image below)

With respect to towns, 62 per cent of the total population now live in urban areas.  Nearly all towns grew between 2006-2011, with some growing very strongly (10 by over 50% – Saggart, Courtown Harbour, Newcastle, Carrigtwohill, Ballymahon, Rathnew, Kinsealy-Drinan, Annacotty, Ballyjamesduff, Sixmilebridge).  Eight towns shrunk in size, with Templemore decreasing by 13.1%.


Justin Gleeson and Rob Kitchin

The release of Residential Property Index figures for the month of December 2011 by the CSO allows the comparison of how house prices have performed between January 2005 and December 2011.  Such a comparison provides an overview of when and how the market has changed and what sectors have been affected the most by the downturn in property prices.  Rather than having to wade through 20 pages of tables, we have converted the data into a set of interactive graphs that detail overall change, annualised change and RPP index score (baseline 2005).  A brief analysis of figures reveals that overall house prices nationally are down 47.1%. Apartments in Dublin have declined more than any other market sector with a fall of 57.7%. Overall house prices in Dublin have fared worse than outside Dublin with a fall of 53.7% in comparison to 42.4% outside Dublin.  The period of greatest annual decline was recorded in August 2009 when prices were 20.8% lower than 12 months previously. The decline between Dec 2011 and 2010 was 16.7%.  To access the interactive graphs on AIRO click on the image.  Full CSO report is available here.

Eoghan McCarthy and Rob Kitchin