Report on the Parish Survey December 1996

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As part of an overall pastoral review of the diocese of Tuam requested in June/July ‘95 by Archbishop Neary a survey of the Athenry parish was undertaken. The results of this painted an interesting picture of many areas of Parish life in Athenry in terms of population, employment, emigration and education as we reach the end of the millennium. While the amounts of information gathered are too vast to print here, the following is an outline of some of the more interesting results. Over 70 people throughout the parish have assisted the completion of the survey which was coordinated by Vincent Murphy, Taiquin. We are confident that the statistics gathered are very accurate, and would like to thank all those who gave their help. Without their time and effort this survey would not have been possible. 

Fr. Tony King

Population Breakdown

Athenry parish covers an area of approximately 55 square miles. It spreads from Colemanstown to Derrydonnell, from Moyvilla to Coshla and many places in between. It has a total population of 4378 people. That consists of 2176 males and 2202 females. While in the past it may often have been said in passing that Athenry’s population is 99% catholic, that figure can now be taken as official. Less than 1% (41 people) of the entire population could be categorised as “non catholics”. Athenry has a protestant population of 14.

Of the persons over 17 years of age, 1037 are single, 1704 are married and 217 are widowed. In the last five years 180 parishoners have got married, 99 of those marriages taking place within the parish. Of those, 90 couples have taken up residence in the parish. While Athenry may not be able to hold onto all of it’s own newly-weds, it is proving an attractive location for couples to move to.

Almost 100 couples have moved into the parish in the last five years including 13 retired couples and 28 newly-weds. There are 79 more houses in the parish now than in 1990. While this is a positive overall figure, it does not mean that all areas benefited. In fact a number of areas showed a deficit in the number of houses today when compared to 1990. In the area of Cuddoo/Colemanstown, for example, seven houses have closed down in the last five years with no new houses being built.

44% of the population are under 25 years of age. The figures for education are very positive with 57% of the people between the ages of 15 and 25 in full time education. Just over 40% of those over 66 years of age live without members of a younger generation in their homes with them. There are 69 elderly people in the parish who require care.

The population of the parish has remained pretty much stagnant in the last five years with a natural increase of just 62 people.


There are 967 people from the parish in full-time paid employment. 243 of these work inside the parish and 724 work outside. There are 303 less women than men in full-time employment, with 708 women with full-time home duties. Athenry provides 162 full-time jobs to people from outside the parish. There are 163 part-time jobs in the parish and 110 of those are taken up by people from the parish. There are 463 full-time self-employed males in Athenry along  with 62 self-employed-females.

The job situation has changed very little with 32 more full-time jobs and 5 more part-time jobs now than five years ago. There are 174 people m- who are unemployed in the parish.


There was a detailed look at the history of emigration in the parish for the last fifty years. 1387 people have left the parish. 33% of these moved elsewhere where in Connaught with 58% of all remaining somewhere in Ireland. Of those that went abroad England/Wales was by far the most popular destination, with one-quarter of all emigrants choosing to live there. The next most popular destination was the U.S.A. with 11.39% going there. Europe and Australia were also very popular. Of all that have gone abroad only 55 people have come back to settle down in Athenry in the last five years.

If all those who have left had stayed, then the population of the parish would be 32% greater than it is at present. If all those who left Newcastle returned it would increase its population by 53%. The town could increase its population by 33%. Emigration has, of course, hit some areas harder than others. The Newcastle area has been worst affected. Two regions, Gloves and New Line, have seen more people leave than are currently living in the area.

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About this record

Written by Vincent Murphy

Published here 12 Jan 2023 and originally published December 1996

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