Meath was once the wealthiest county in Ireland, newly released data from the 1911 census has revealed.
Nine out of the nation’s 10 wealthiest counties were in Leinster at the time, while the poorest parts of the country were on the western seaboard.
Mayo was the poorest county overall, but seven of the 10 poorest electoral areas were in Donegal.
These areas suffered hugely during the Famine and their populations still had not recovered more than half a century later.
“Particularly out west in Ireland, if you are one of those small farmers, quite often the eldest son and eldest daughter might remain in Ireland,” Trinity College historian Dr Caitlin White said.
“But your younger children will have no opportunities and emigration became part of the expected life cycle for young people.”
The census also provides evidence of the blossoming Gaelic revival with many people in middle class areas filling their forms out entirely as Gaeilge in the traditional old Irish script.
Main image: Trim Castle, County Meath. Picture by: Alamy.com