There was a rise in the number of Irish directors of UK companies last year, with the number rising to over 50,000 for the first time. 16% of all company directors in the UK are Irish, up 3,000 on the year before. 

The research comes from communications agency Eulogy, which analysed records at Companies House in the UK.

It shows that the Irish are way ahead of the next nationality in terms of company directorships - Indian - at just over 22,000. American directors come third with a total of 18,278.

The report also reveals that the number of female Irish directors in the UK has increased by almost 10%, closing the gender gap to two to one.

It also shows that the largest growth of Irish directors is in the 36-40 age range, while the 18-25 age group decreased by 10%. 

"The Foreign Directors report reiterates the major Irish contribution to British business and the close ties between the two countries," commented Adrian Brady, chief executive of Eulogy.

"According to data collected over the past five years the number of Irish directors continues to show strong growth year-on-year. It's clear that we play a key role in British business, a positive sign which presents future opportunities for Irish businesses and the Government to engage with the many companies which have these strong Irish connections," Mr Brady added.