Dr Stephen Kinsella: Offering needed Picture: Sean Curtin
MORE needs to be done to encourage people to live in Limerick city, UL economist Dr Stephen Kinsella has said after new census figures revealed that the city is growing at a slower rate than any other city in the country.
And he cited the lack “of a compelling urban offering” as one of the reasons.
CSO figures collated from last year’s census show the population of Limerick city increased by 2,738 (3%) when compared to the previous census in 2011.
In contrast to Limerick the population of Waterford city increased by 3.9%, Galway by 4.1%, Cork by 5.1% and Dublin by 5.6%.
According to Central Statistics Office, the population of the city and suburbs was 94,192 on April 24, 2016 – the date of last year’s census.
This represents 48% of the total population of Limerick which now stands at 194,899 – up from 191,809 in 2011 and 184,055 in 2006.
Newcastle West – the largest town in County Limerick – saw its population increase by 292 (4.6%) to 6,619 compared to 2011 while Annacotty – the second largest town in Limerick saw its population grow by 2.6% to 2,930.
For the purpose of the cenus, the smallest population centre in Limerick is Tournafulla which had a population of 144 (71 men and 73 women) on census day.
Dr Stephen Kinsella, senior lecturer in economics at the Kemmy Business School, says the figures show that more needs to be done to encourage people to live in the city centre in particular.
“While some people want to live in one-off houses and have back gardens there doesn’t seem to be a compelling urban offering (in Limerick) for people who are at a certain stage in life and who want to live in an apartment and go out three nights a week and that kind of stuff.
“Is there a space in Limerick that supports that kind of lifestyle? Well maybe but is it optimal - maybe not?” he said.
While the population of Limerick city and county increased marginally (1.6%) between 2011 and 2016, a number of towns and village saw their populations decline – in some cases by double digits.
In the county, there were some precipitous drops; in Kilteely, the population fell by 20.1%; by 14.1% in Ballyhahill and by 8.1% in Cappamore. John McCarthy (71) who has lived in Kilteely most of his life says the reducing population in the village is a concern.
“There is no development of houses, there isn’t a new house being built anywhere in the community at the moment and we don’t see any new families coming in and it’s all down to a lack of housing,” he said.
”There is an awful lack of any new development in the whole area and there is no place for anybody to live in Kilteely and even rented accommodation is very very scarce and it’s getting worse all the time,” added John who is an active member with Kiteely Tidy Towns and other community organisations.
The census figures show the highest level of population growth was recorded in towns and villages which are on the periphery of the city and its environs.
Castleconnell, which has the third highest population among county towns, saw its population increase by 9.9%, while the population of Caherconlish increased by 15.4%.
There were also notable population increases in Fedamore, Clonlara and Bunratty.
Limerick Leader local notes correspondent Pat Hourigan says, while welcome, the increase in population in Caherconlish has “done nothing for the social fabric of the town” and has put pressure on the local national school and health centre.
“We were promised a new health centre by the HSE some time ago but we don’t have it and the present centre has stopped taking new patients. In relation to the school there was a greenfields site designated for it and we still haven’t got that,” he said.
Meanwhile, small towns and villages farthest away from the city in the western half of the county also saw population declines.
Mountcollins saw its population fall by 7%, Tournafulla by 5%, Athea by 4%, Broadford by 6% and Dromcollogher by 5%.
Cllr John Sheahan, chairman of the Newcastle West Municipal District, said lack of infrastructure was a contributory factor.
Former GAA county board chairman, Liam Lenihan, who lives in Tournafulla said that successive governments had not made it easy to live in rural Ireland. “We have to depend on ourselves,” he said.
Towns and villages closer to Limerick fared somewhat better. Kildimo and Adare both grew by about 2% while Clarina’s population rose by 7%. Rathkeale population however fell by 7% to 1,441.
Dr Kinsella says while not significant in overall terms, the impact of population decline within rural towns and villages can be devastating.
”What’s important is that at an overall macro level these small changes are not that important but actually at a local level if there are 300 people in a village and 40 people leave, the people in that village feel it quite keenly,” he told the Limerick Leader.
Winners and losers: Most populated towns and villages in Limerick in Census 2016
Limerick City & suburbs: 94,192 (+2,738)
Newcastle West: 6,619 (+292)
Annacotty: 2,930 (+74)
Castleconnell: 2,107 (+190)
Abbeyfeale: 2,023 (+16)
Kimallock: 1,668 (+33)
Caherconlish: 1,476 (+197)
Rathkeale: 1,441 (-109)
Murroe: 1,377 (+106)
Croom: 1,159 (+2)
Askeaton: 1,137 (-12)
Adare: 1,129 (+23)
Patrickswell: 847 (+6)
Bruff: 803 (+20)
Kilfinane: 789 (+11)
Hospital: 653 (+23)
Pallaskenry: 651 (-13)
Cappamore: 620 (-55)
Bruree: 580 (+39)
Glin: 576 (-1)
Pallasgreen: 568 (-21)
Ballingarry: 521 (-6)
Foynes: 520 (-22)
Dromcollogher: 518 (-30)
Doon: 516 (+7)
Glen (Ballyneety): 450 (-5)
Kildimo: 417 (+8)
Athea: 369 (-6)
Fedamore: 329 (+31)
Oola: 324 (+13)
Ballylanders: 308 (-23)
Shanagolden: 303 (+9)
Clarina: 294 (+19)
Mungret (village): 277 (-9)
Broadford: 276 (-19)
Ardagh: 266 (-22)
Knocklong: 256 (-9)
Galbally: 251 (+13)
Croagh: 216 (-6)