Donegal lost the equivalent of the population of one of its largest towns, Buncrana, through net migration over the past five years, according to preliminary census results released by the Central Statistics Office in Cork.
In fact, the county was one of just four constituencies to witness a fall in population alongside other western counties, Mayo, Sligo-Leitrim and Limerick.
Whilst the population of the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland grew to 4.76 million in 2016, the majority of counties experienced population loss to migration over the five year period 2011 to 2016, with net outward migration at -28,558.
But Donegal was the worst in the country, losing -6,731 of its lifeblood, the equivalent of the population of Buncrana, or eight people per 1,000 of the population (one emigrant per 125).
Population change varied widely across the country ranging from a high of over 8 per cent in Fingal to a low of -1.5 per cent in Donegal. Among the fastest growing counties were the four administrative areas of Dublin, along with the commuter belt counties of Meath, Kildare and Laois and the cities of Cork and Galway.
Brendan Murphy, statistician at the CSO, said: “These preliminary results, published just 12 weeks after census day, are based on a clerical summary of each enumeration area compiled by the 4,663 enumerators.
“These counts were returned to the CSO in advance of the census forms themselves and the results published today are based on this information. “We’d like to thank the enumerators and their supervisors for all their hard work over the course of the census, and in particular for making the publication of these results today possible.
“Scanning and processing of the two million actual census forms is well underway and the first definitive results are due to be published next March, within a year of census day”.