New figures show that Irish ports handled a total of 57.6 million tonnes of goods last year, up 5.7% on 2011 levels.
The Central Statistics Office said that goods received last year increased by 4.5% compared to 2011, while goods forwarded rose by 8%.
The CSO noted that the level of goods forwarded - at 16.5 million tonnes - is the highest on record.
Of the total tonnage of goods handled, dry bulk accounted for 31.6%, liquid bulk 28.2%, roll-on-roll-off 24.4%, lift-on lift-off 14.1% and break bulk 1.8%.
The CSO said the number of vessels arriving in Irish ports fell by 2.1% to 11,810 from 12,059.
The Dublin-Hollyhead route was the most important route in terms of tonnage received, while the Dublin-Liverpool route was the most important route in terms of tonnage forwarded.