The growing optimism in the construction sector is reflected in the Ulster Bank construction PMI, which measures current and future activity patterns in the sector.
 
The index finished out 2014 on a positive note with a reading of 63.1 in December, down slightly from the reading of 63.5 in November.

Ulster Bank noted that the average reading for last year as a whole was the highest since the series began in the middle of 2000. Any figure over 50 signals growth in the sector, while a figure under 50 signals contraction.
 
The latest PMI showed that new orders continued to show expansion in December - albeit at a slower pace than the previous four months - while companies increased their workforces at a rapid rate.
 
The indices for housing and commercial construction activity fell in the month but they remain at elevated levels, while civil engineering activity expanded at its fastest pace in eight years.

While new orders fell last month to a four month low, they still remain at "very punchy" levels and continue to show solid expansion in new business activity. 

New orders have now risen for 18 months in a row and companies expect this trend to continue as sentiment remains very bullish with about two thirds of respondents predicting higher activity in a year's time.

"Overall, 2014 marked an important year for the Irish construction sector, with the PMI results through the year pointing to the establishment of a solid, broadly-based recovery," commented Ulster Bank's chief economist Simon Barry. 

"While this recovery needs to be seen in the context of the huge downturn which hit the sector over 2006-13, the encouraging trends in place at the end of the year indicate that the sector will likely enjoy further expansion in 2015," he added.