Irish shipping activity increased by 3% between July and September compared to the same period last year.

That is according to the latest quarterly traffic review published by the Irish Maritime Development Office.

The figures indicate that three of the five principal domestic freight segments grew in the third quarter.

The largest share of growth was driven by the 'Ro-ro', or 'roll-on/roll-off', sector.

Growth of 8% was posted in that sector, the majority of the activity being between Ireland and Britain, the country's largest trading partner, as trade conditions continue to improve there.

The increase was further helped by a stronger performance in direct continental volumes, which was up 14%.

Container traffic declined by 2%.

The container market continued to struggle during the third quarter as sluggish demand in advanced economies constrained growth.

Dry bulk shipments, which make up the largest volume of traffic throughput at Irish ports, were flat during the third quarter of 2013.

Liquid Bulk showed a 4% increase while break bulk increased by 44% due mainly to increased demand for construction related materials such as wood, and specialised machinery.

However volumes remain at historically low levels.