The 2016 Census figures just released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show a continued decline in the population of Mayo’s offshore islands. However, the good news is that there are now eight inhabited islands in Clew Bay, up from six in 2011.
The population of Clare Island, the largest island in Clew Bay, declined to 159, with nine male residents leaving the island. The female population remained at 75, the same number as in 2011. As for the inner islands of Clew Bay, all five residents of Inishcottle left the island and it is now uninhabited, despite being connected to Inishnakillew. Inishlyre and Clynish retained their respective populations of four inhabitants each, although one male left Inishlyre, leaving three females and one male. Inishnakillew also lost two male residents, but gained one female, leaving a total of five people living on the island.
The previously uninhabited Rosbarnagh island gained one male resident, as did Achill Beg for the first time since 1965. Collan Beg – empty for many years – now has one couple living on it year round. The island that showed the most significant gain was Collan More, which now has seven year-round residents, up from four in 2011.
As for the larger Mayo islands, Achill lost 65 males and 64 females since 2011, leaving populations of 1,201 and 1,239 respectively. Inis Bigil’s male population dropped from 16 to 11, and female inhabitants declined from nine to seven. Despite its efforts to gain residents fleeing the new American administration, Inishturk lost nine male inhabitants, but gained seven females, leaving a population of 51.
Overall, the population of the Mayo islands declined from 2,839 in 2011 to 2,694 in 2016, a drop of 145 people or just over 5%.