Over 700,000 1926 Census return forms to be made available online

Over 700,000 1926 Census return forms to be made available online

INDIVIDUAL RETURNS from the 1926 Irish Census will be published online, searchable and free of charge in April 2026, it has been announced.

The 1926 Census was the first census undertaken following the foundation of the state in 1922.

A census was taken in June 1921 in England, Scotland and Wales, but not on the island of Ireland because of the War of Independence.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) published information generated by the census including population, age, occupation, religion, housing and the Irish language.

On the night it was conducted, 18 April 1926, the population of Ireland stood at 2.97 million, with 49% of respondents being female and 51% male.

A previous census from 1911 showed that population to be 3.14 million, demonstrating a reduction go 5.3% of the populations. Dublin was the only county to record an increase in population of almost 6% in that 15-year period, while all other counties recorded a loss.

In 1926, 92.6% of the population was Catholic and 18.3% could speak Irish.

Agricultural occupations made up 51% of those in employment. 4% were fishermen, 14% were in manufacturing and 7% were domestic servants.

Personal information and individual forms relating to a census can be published 100 years after a census is taken.

"Since the personal information contained in the 1901 and 1911 census returns was published a decade ago, public interest in genealogy has mushroomed, and this continues with a growing interest in the detail contained in the 1926 census," a press release from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media reads.

The returns will contain personal details of each individual alive at the time in Ireland, with the 1926 census having collected 21 data sets such as names, ages, sex, marital status, religion, household conditions and ability to speak Irish.

The department plans to digitise and publish all data sets, with the information to provide a fascinating snapshot of Irish life in 1926.

Work will now commence to preserve, transcribe and digitise the individual census returns with the cost estimated to come to €5 million.

The census documents are currently being stored in 1,344 boxes containing over 700,000 return sheets, with each measuring approximately 630mm x 290mm.

The returns are laces together in 2,464 canvas portfolios each representing an enumeration area within each of the 26 counties.

Digitising of the census will be undertaken by the National Archives of Ireland in cooperation with the CSO.

"It is my firm belief that census records and other genealogical records should be easily accessible and provided free of charge to the public," Minister Catherine Martin said.

"The €5m funding will provide for the complex, time consuming and multistage process to digitise all of the information collected by the first census of the Irish State.

"I am confident that work will be complete in time for release 100 years after the census was taken.

"Given the success by the digitised 1901 and 1911 census returns I'm sure that the 1926 Census will be equally as popular and have a significant global reach once released."