emigration that now flows from England and Scotland to British North America.
Turning now to the census figures of 1901, we find that the population had diminished as compared with 1891 by 245,975. During the decade only three counties, Dublin, Down and Antrim, showed any increase, the increase being due to the growth of certain urban areas. Of the total population of 4,458,775, 2,200,040 were males and 2,258,735 were females. The inhabitants of the rural districts (3,073,846) decreased during the decade by over 380,000; that of the urban districts, i.e. of all towns of not less than 2000 inhabitants (1,384,929) increased by over 140,000. This increase was mainly due to the growth of a few of the larger towns, notably of Belfast, the chief industrial centre of Ireland. Between 1891 and 1901 Belfast increased from 273,079 to 349,180; Dublin from 268,587 to 289,108; and Londonderry, another industrial centre in Ulster, from 33,200 to 39,873. On the other hand, towns like Cork (75,978), Waterford (26,743) and Limerick (38,085), remained almost stationary during the ten years, but the urban districts of Pembroke and of Rathmines and Rathgar, which are practically suburbs of Dublin, showed considerable increases.
From the returns of occupation in 1901, it appears that the indefinite or non-productive class accounted for about 55% of the entire population. The next largest class was the agricultural, which numbered 876,062, a decrease of about 40,000 as compared with 1891. The industrial class fell from 656,410 to 639,413, but this represented a slight increase in the percentage of the population. The professional class was 131,035, the domestic 219,418, and the commercial had risen from 83,173 in 1891 to 97,889 in 1901. The following table shows the number of births and deaths registered in Ireland during the five years 1901-1905.
The number of illegitimate births is always very small in proportion to the legitimate. In 1905 illegitimate births numbered 2710 or 2.6 of the whole, a percentage which has been very constant for a number of years.
Railways.—The first act of parliament authorizing a railway in Ireland was passed in 1831. The railway was to run from Dublin to Kingstown, a distance of about 6 m., and was opened in 1834. In 1836 the Ulster railway to connect Belfast and Armagh, and the Dublin and Drogheda railway uniting these two towns were sanctioned. In the same year commissioners were nominated by the crown to inquire (inter alia) as to a general system for railways in Ireland, and as to the best mode of directing the development of the means of intercourse to the channels whereby the greatest advantage might be obtained by the smallest outlay. The commissioners presented a very valuable report in 1838, but its specific recommendations were never adopted by the government, though they ultimately proved of service to the directors of private enterprises. Railway development in Ireland progressed at first very slowly and by 1845 only some 65 m. of railway were open. During the next ten years, however, there was a considerable advance, and in 1855 the Irish railways extended to almost 1000 m. The total authorized capital of all Irish railways, exclusive of light railways, at the end of 1905 was £42,881,201, and the paid-up capital, including loans and debenture stock, amounted to £37,238,888. The total gross receipts from all sources of traffic in 1905 were £4,043,368, of which £2,104,108 was derived from passenger traffic and £1,798,520 from goods traffic. The total number of passengers carried (exclusive of season and periodical ticket-holders) was 27,950,150. Under the various acts passed to facilitate the construction of light railways in backward districts some 15 lines have been built, principally in the western part of the island from Donegal to Kerry. These railways are worked by existing companies.
The following table shows the principal Irish railways, their mileage and the districts which they serve.
|Name of Railway.||Mileage.||Districts Served.|
|Great Southern & Western||1083||The southern half of Leinster, the whole of Munster, and part of Connaught, the principal towns served being Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Limerick and Sligo.|
|Midland Great Western||538||The central districts of Ireland and a great part of Connaught, the principal towns served being Dublin, Athlone, Galway and Sligo.|
|Great Northern||533||The northern half of Leinster and a great part of Ulster, the principal towns served being Dublin, Belfast, Londonderry, Dundalk, Drogheda, Armagh and Lisburn.|
|Northern Counties (now owned by the Midland Railway of England)||249||The counties of Antrim, Tyrone and Londonderry.|
|Dublin & South Eastern||161||The counties of Dublin, Wicklow, Wexford and Waterford.|
|Donegal||106||The counties of Tyrone and Donegal.|
|Londonderry & Lough Swilly||99||The counties of Londonderry and Donegal.|
|Cork, Bandon & South Coast||95||The counties of Cork and Kerry.|
|Belfast & County Down||76||The county of Down.|
There is no lack of cross-channel services between Ireland and Great Britain. Belfast is connected by daily sailings with Glasgow, Ardrossan, Liverpool, Feetwood, Barrow and Heysham Harbour, Dublin with Holyhead and Liverpool, Greenore (Co. Down) with Holyhead, Larne (Co. Antrim) with Stranraer, Rosslare (Co. Wexford) with Fishguard and Kingstown (Co. Dublin) with Holyhead.
Navigable Waterways.—Ireland is intersected by a network of canals and waterways, which if efficiently managed and developed would prove of immense service to the country by affording a cheap means for the carriage of goods, especially agricultural produce. Two canals—the Grand and the Royal—connect Dublin with the Shannon; the former leading from the south of Dublin to Shannon Harbour and thence on the other side of that river to Ballinasloe, with numerous branches; the latter from the north side of Dublin to Cloondera on the Shannon, with a branch to Longford. The Barrow Navigation connects a branch of the Grand canal with the tidal part of the river Barrow. In Ulster the Bann navigation connects Coleraine, by means of Lough Neagh, with the Lagan navigation which serves Belfast; and the Ulster canal connects Lough Neagh with Lough Erne. The river Shannon is navigable for a distance of 143 m. in a direct course and occupies almost a central position between the east and west coasts.
Agriculture.—Ireland possesses as a whole a soil which is naturally fertile and easily cultivated. Strong heavy clay soils, sandy and gravelly soils, are almost entirely absent; and the mixture of soil arising from the various stratifications and from the detritus carried down to the plains has created many districts of remarkable richness. The “Golden Vein” in Munster, which stretches from Cashel in Tipperary to near Limerick, probably forms the most fertile part of the country. The banks of the rivers Shannon, Suir, Nore, Barrow and Bann are lined with long stretches of flat lands capable of producing fine crops. In the districts of the Old and New Red Sandstone, which include the greater part of Cork and portions of Kerry, Waterford, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Monaghan, Mayo and Tipperary, the soil in the hollows is generally remarkably fertile. Even in the mountainous districts which are unsuitable for tillage there is often sufficient soil to yield, with the aid of the moist atmosphere, abundant pasturage of good quality. The excessive moisture in wet seasons in however hostile to cereal crops, especially in the southern and western districts, though improved drainage has
- Formerly Belfast and Northern Counties.
- Formerly Dublin, Wicklow and Wexford.