Ulster Bank's Construction Purchasing Managers' Index - a monthly indicator of sentiment in the industry - registered an unprecedented fall in activity due to the Covid-19 shutdown of construction activity. 

The index measure collapsed to an all time low of 4.5 in April, down from 28.9 in March. 

A reading above 50 signal expansion in activity, while a figure under 50 points to contraction. 

The forward-looking elements of the survey also pointed to weakness with declines in incoming new business and employment. 

Meanwhile, lockdowns in Ireland and across Europe to prevent the spread of Covid-19 also meant that those companies that did order inputs found it increasingly difficult to acquire them.

Ulster Bank noted that suppliers' delivery times lengthened to the greatest extent in the survey's history.

Meanwhile, input prices decreased for the first time since August 2013 during April, and at the fastest pace in just over a decade as demand for inputs declined.

Around 93% of panellists said that activity had fallen during the month due to widespread site closures in response to the Covid-19-related public health restrictive measures. 

95% of respondents also reported a fall in commercial activity, while 93% of respondents reported a drop in housing activity

However, there were glimmers of hope for the months ahead.

"Confidence about the coming year rose slightly in April, an outcome which has likely been reinforced by the post-survey government announcement that a phased return to work for outdoor workers, including those in construction, will be allowed from May 18 which may mean that April proves to be the nadir of the current crisis for Irish construction firms," Simon Barry, chief economist with Ulster Bank, said.