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Irish still love a wedding – and less likely to die young

The Irish love getting married now as much as they did more than a hundred years ago, and are also nearly three times less likely to die young.

Irish wedding from the 19th century
That is the according to the national records of births, deaths and marriages in Ireland from as far back as the 19th century, which are now readily available online.

The statistics will provide great source material for historians and people tracing their ancestry. They also show the social changes Ireland has gone through over the past century.

For example, in 1864, the first year of available records, 4% of births were classed as ‘illegitimate’, as in outside of wedlock. That trend has changed dramatically in the last 145 years, with the percentage of children born outside of rising to 34% by 2011.

Given that statistic, you could be forgiven for thinking that the number of couples tying the knot would therefore have drastically fallen. However, the number of couples getting married in Ireland in 2011 (4%) was not dissimilar form the number in 1864 (5%).

These figures suggest that the vast expense of modern-day weddings is forcing people to delay getting married. But rather than wait to start a family, they would rather have children first and get married later when they are older and in a stronger financial position.

‘Great Famine’ forced millions to emigrate

Thanks to advances in medicine we are far less likely to die young than our 19th century ancestors. 16.4 per every 1,000 people in Ireland died in 1864. Thankfully that rate has drastically fallen to 6.2 per thousand people in 2011.

Of course, in 1864 the country was still suffering great poverty after the ‘Great Famine’ had led to millions being forced to emigrate. Those that couldn’t afford to leave faced a daily struggle to feed their families. Disease and malnutrition swept across the island, with Croup, Scarlatina, Whooping Cough, Fever, Smallpox, Measles and Dysentery accounting for 20% of deaths.

The statistics are available for free at the Central Statistics Office website,

They offer a valuable insight into life in Ireland in the 19th century, and give people alive today food for thought when they are feeling sorry for themselves about how tough life is.

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