Preliminary figures from the 2006 Census show that the State's population increased to just over 4.2 million, the highest level since 1861. According to the Central Statistics Office, this was an increase of more than 300,000 compared with 2002.

Over the last ten years, Ireland's population has grown at an annual average rate of 1.6% - the highest in the EU.

Three counties - Fingal, Meath and Kildare - accounted for 30% of the increase since 2002. But the CSO describes the increase for Dublin as a whole as 'relatively modest' at 5.6%, well below the national increase of 8.1%.

Cork city and Limerick city were the only two of 34 administrative counties to record falls in the population since 2002.

On average, there were 46,000 more immigrants than emigrants each year from 2002 to 2006, up from 26,000 in the previous period. The were 33,000 more births than deaths a year.