The 1901 and 1911 Census records, which are available online on the National Archives website are a valuable resource which allow Irish people, wherever they may be, to get a glimpse into our past, whether to research their own ancestors or to get a feel for the history of Ireland.
Who knows, maybe our descendants will be looking at our Census forms in centuries to come and finding out more about who we were.
Check out the census forms below for a selection of interesting Census records from 1901 and 1911 and check out some of the now famous Irish people who were included in the Census in 1901 or 1911 or both!
The 1911 return for the Bacon household at 3 Kennycourt, Gilltown, Co. Kildare, includes the one year old Francis, who would become the most sought-after international artist of the post-war period. His work Triptych 1976 holds the record for the highest price ever paid for a post-war work of art at auction.
Return for Norah Barnacle, the future Mrs. James Joyce, living with her family at Bowling Green in Galway city in 1901, aged 18 and working as a laundress. Three years later, she was to meet Joyce and create the day immortalised in Ulysses, 16 June, 1904.
The 1911 return for the Beckett household in Kerrymount, Ballybrack, Co. Dublin shows four year old Samuel Barclay, later to become writer, dramatist and poet. He was widely regarded as one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969.
The 1901 return for the Collins family living at Woodfield, Coolcraheen, Cork, includes Michael, a 10 year old schoolboy. By 1911, Michael Collins was living in London. Known as “the Big Fellow” Collins was a revolutionary leader, a Member of the 1st Dáil, Chairman of the Irish provisional government and Commander-in-chief of the provisional government army. On the 22nd August 1922, Michael Collins was fatally wounded at an ambush at Béal na Bláth.
The college and boarding school return at an address in Williamstown, Blackrock, Co. Dublin lists an 18 year old Edward De Valera. Born George De Valero in New York in 1882, he was taken to live in Ireland by his uncle aged 2 after the death of his father and reared by his mother’s family in Co. Limerick. In 1901 he was a student at Blackrock College, Dublin. By 1911 he was married and living with his wife Sinead and baby son Vivien in 33 Morehamptom Terrace, Dublin. A leader of the 1916 rising, he later founded Fianna Fáil and had a long political career, serving as Taoiseach (1932-48, 1951-54 and 1957-59) and President of Ireland (1959-1973).
Return for Rosanna (Rosie) Hackett, living with her family in Abbey St. in Dublin. She was responsible for leading the women workers in Jacob’s biscuit factory out on strike in 1913, was a key member of the Irish Women Workers’ Union, and printed the 1916 Proclamation in Liberty Hall.
The 1901 return records Douglas Hyde and his family living in Ratra, Frenchpark. Scholar of the Irish language he published a substantial amount of Irish verse under the penname "An Craoibhín Aoibhinn" and was co-founder of the Gaelic League. He would later become a Senator and the first President of Ireland from 1938-1945. Note that Dr. Hyde’s 1911 return, by which time he was living at 1 Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin, was completed in the Irish language.
The return for the Joyce household in Royal Terrace, Clontarf, Dublin includes 19 year old student James Augustine, later to become the novelist and poet who would find fame as the author of Ulysses and be regarded as one of the most influential writers of the early twentieth century.
The return for the Kavanagh household in Mucker, Kiltybegs, Co. Monaghan includes 7 year old Patrick, later to become poet and novelist. Fans of Kavanagh’s autobiographical novel 'The Green Fool' will note his father’s occupation, shoemaker, and the presence of a journeyman shoemaker in the household on census night 1911.
Return for Dorothy Macardle, author of The Irish Republic, the first history of the revolutionary period, living at Wellington Rd. in Dublin. Note that she refuses information as to her religion. She became disillusioned with De Valera, her early hero, in later life.
Return for Sean O’Casey (Seaghan O’Cathasaigh) in 1911. O’Casey was involved with the Irish Citizen Army, the Gaelic League (hence the Irish language return) and the trade union movement. He was living at Abercorn Rd., East Wall with his mother Susan and his brother Michael.
Return for Patrick Henry Pearse (Padraig Pearse) living at 363 Sandymount Avenue in Dublin, at the time a 21 year old law student. He would go on to become a barrister, Irish teacher, poet, writer, nationalist, signatory of the 1916 proclamation and one of the leaders of the Easter Rising, and be executed, along with his brother Willie and the other leaders of the 1916 Rising.
Return for Margaret Guiheen (Peig Sayers), living on the Great Blasket Island with her husband, her brother-in-law and her six surviving children, out of ten born. She became famous as the author of her autobiography, Peig, which generations of Irish schoolchildren studied.
Return for the Vice-Regal Lodge (now Áras an Uachtaráin) in 1911. Lord Aberdeen was Lord Lieutenant. His wife, Ishbel Maria Gordon, was a well-known feminist who founded the Women’s National Health Association in Ireland, to spearhead the fight against tuberculosis.
Return for John (Jack) Butler Yeats, artist, living at 13 Rathdown Lower, Greystones, Co. Wicklow. Brother of poet William Butler Yeats and close friend of Samuel Beckett, he was an author and an artist of international renown, famous for his paintings of the Irish landscape, horses, circus and travelling players.
Return for WB Yeats, staying at Nolan’s Hotel in South. Frederick St. in 1911, accompanied by Lady Augusta Gregory. A poet and dramatist, Yeats was one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923. He was the driving force behind the Irish literary Revival and, along with Lady Gregory and others, founded the Abbey Theatre. He served as a senator for two terms.