Stage 2 - Research Trends
Stage 2 (June - December 2000) involved the preparation of a number of Research Reports on the spatial functioning of Ireland.
The following development trends were among those which emerged in the research reports.
The island of Ireland is relatively small in European and world terms. Since accession to the European Union in 1973, the Irish economy has become highly integrated into the European and global markets, with profound impacts on national development and economic progress.
The island has an overall population of 5.6 million, of which 3.9 million live in the State. The State is characterised spatially by a relatively dispersed population with about 58% living in urban areas with a population of more than 1,500, and about 42% living in rural areas (based on 1996 census). Dublin City and suburbs (2002 population estimated at between 1 and 1.1 million) is very much larger in population than any other city in the State.
In addition, the total combined population of the cities and suburbs of Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford in 1996 was 38% of the population of Dublin city and suburbs. Irish towns in the next tier below these cities, i.e. those in the 10,000 to 40,000 population category, are generally concentrated in the East and South East, with many of these being quite close to Dublin. In more western areas there are only four towns in the 10,000 to 40,000 category. Towns below 10,000 population and especially below 5,000 in population are more evenly spread. (see map: Cities and Towns on the Island of Ireland)