Ireland 1916: By the numbers

With so much attention this year on the centennial of the 1916 Easter Rising, it seemed like a good time to recheck a great source of historical statistical data: the annual reports of the Registrar-General for Ireland. You can find the 1916 abstract, plus reports for 1887-1922, at the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency website, and other locations.

The London government’s annual snapshot for 1916 was released by Registrar-General E. O’Farrell on 10 July 1917 at Dublin Castle. The report contains only a brief reference to the events of Easter Week in the section of death data. It says:

VIOLENCE: The number of deaths registered in Ireland during the year 1916, as having been caused by violence in its various forms was 2,265, in comparison with 1,955 in 1915, and an average of 1,880 for the ten years 1906-1915. The 2,265 deaths in 1916 comprise 32 cases of homicide, 107 of suicide, and 2,126 other deaths by violence, including accidental cases. … Included in the latter are 412 deaths registered as having been caused by wounds received during the Rebellion of Easter Week. Among them are 315 deaths of civilians, and 97 of military and police, the 315 deaths among the civil population comprising 263 of males and 52 of females. Only 4 of the deaths by execution, following trials by courts-martial, were registered during the period up to 31st December last.

MI-GPO_Ruins-1916.jpg (650×488)

The General Post Office after the Rising.

Contemporary sources use different figures for the Rising’s death toll. For example, research by the Glasnevin Trust shows 485 men, women and children “killed during or as a direct result” of the rebellion, or 54 percent of the total. The government executed 15 leaders in the immediate aftermath of the Rising, plus Roger Casement a few months later. The reason for the low count in the 1916 annual report is not clear.

The Rising occurred in the 20th month of the First World War, and the number of people leaving Ireland declined as the cost of living increased.

Emigration dropped to 7,302 people in 1916, a rate of 1.7 per 1,000 population (total 4.3 million). This was below the prior 10-year average of 28,071 (6.4 per 1,000) and marked the first time annual emigration fell below the 10,000 threshold since the government began keeping the annual record in 1851.

Read my previous blog post about emigration during Ireland’s revolutionary period, 1912-1923.

The 1916 abstract also includes the average prices of these common provisions: 9 pence for a 4-pound loaf of bread; 22 shillings, 6 pence per hundredweight of oatmeal; 6 shilling, 2 3/4 pence per hundredweight of potatoes; and 97 shillings per hundredweight of beef. These prices are all noticeably higher than previous years back to 1906 shown in the report.

The annual statistical reports were published by E. Ponsbury Ltd, 116 Grafton St., across the street from Trinity College Dublin. Today, the building is advertised as a swanky apartment and vacation rental.