Ireland’s 2022 Census -Housing Details

Self-Catering Ireland

Housing Information Census 2022 

The Central Statistics Office in Ireland has not published Tourism Data since the start of the Pandemic, and they have started to publish data from the  Census in 2022. I am like a kiddy in a sweetshop with Data!

All Self-Catering will now need Planning Permission.

Self-Catering as an industry offers Short Term Rental (STR) accommodation to domestic and overseas tourists, those who are attending hospital for treatment, those working for a short time in an area, digital nomads in winter months, and for many other legitimate reasons. Since 2017 the industry in Ireland has been under threat from the Rent Pressure Zones Legislation, with over 50 areas arbitrarily closing down small family businesses. This has resulted in an unbalanced tourism accommodation offering and greatly increased rates for hotels and hostels, especially in urban areas since April 2022.  Dublin has been particularly affected by this.

I Love Housing Data!

Preliminary data from Census 2022 released on 29/05/2023 provides the following information in relation to the housing stock

Statistics Irelamd 2022

Census Population and Housing Stock 2022

  • The population of Ireland increased – The population of Ireland has increased to over 5 million (5,149,139) as of 03/4/2022. This is an 08% increase on the 2016 census. This is the first time the population of Ireland is over 5 million people since before the famine (1851).  The population has increased due to increased immigration to Ireland and migration within the EU, due to high levels of employment. Over 10 years to 2022 the population of Ireland increased by 10.3%.


  • Working from Home -The number of people working from home has increased greatly with 1/3 of all workers (747,961) now working from home for part of the week. There were increases in the housing stock in all counties with the largest increase in the east of the country.


RPZ Areas

Dunmore East Co Waterford, Ireland

  • Increase in Housing Stock – A total of 2,124,590 permanent dwellings were counted in Ireland with an increase of over 120,000 units (6%) between 2016 and 2022. In Kildare and Meath, the stock of habitable dwellings went up by 12%, Wicklow was up 9% and in Louth and Dublin, the housing stock rose by 7%. In these areas, the number of dwellings that were occupied went up at a similar rate. In contrast, there were more modest increases of 3% in the housing stock in counties Tipperary, Leitrim, Roscommon, Cavan, and Donegal. However, in these areas, the number of occupied dwellings increased at more than twice the rate of the housing stock.


  • Housing Stock – On an annual basis the increase in housing stock is equivalent to an average 1% rise per year between 2016 and 2022 while the population has risen by 1.2% per year over the 6 years. There has been little social housing built by local authorities in the past 15 years which increased pressure on the private rental sector. Ireland is now nearly at full employment and the population has increased by 7.6% since 2016.  Several Leinster counties such as Co. Kildare saw the population increase by 11% between 2016 and 2022, while the housing stock grew by 12%. In many rural areas, the difference between population growth and housing growth was much more pronounced. For example in Leitrim the population increased by over 3,000 (10%) while the housing stock went up by just over 600 (3%) and in Roscommon, the population increased by over 8% while the housing stock rose by 3%. There has been an increase in remote work with people moving to rural Ireland or moving home to be near family.
    Data on Housing Ireland

    CSO Vacancy Rate by Region 2022


  • Vacant House Rates – There has been a reduced vacancy rate down to 08% in 2022 from 9% in 2016.  There was a contrast in Census vacancy rates between counties with predominantly urban populations and more rural counties and how they have changed since 2016. Taking Meath for example, the 2022 Census shows that a vacancy rate fell by less than 1 percentage point from under 7% in 2016 to 6% in 2022. Whereas in Roscommon the Census vacancy rate fell by 4 percentage points from 17% in 2016 to 13% in 2022. This may be related to increased demand for houses in Roscommon and other rural areas with more people working from home, having moved back to rural roots, or making a choice to live in rural Ireland post-Covid.


Housing Data IReland

Vacant Properties 2016 and 2022

  • Why are Houses Still Vacant – Houses are vacant at the time of the Census for many reasons. The houses may be a rental property (34,000) either long-term or short-term, with no distinction being made. The house may be for sale, a new build, undergoing renovation, an abandoned farmhouse (15,000), owners have emigrated, owners are currently in a nursing home, or deceased. There were 48,000 houses vacant in both the 2016 and 2022 Census data also shows that  85% of those houses were also vacant at the 2011 Census. Most of the vacant homes are found in the West and North West Coast of Ireland with most being situated in Donegal, Mayo, Sligo Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan, Roscommon, and Kerry. Full details from Census 2022.


Where are most Self-Catering Properties in Ireland?

As there is no Register for Self-Catering, up to now Short term lets, Bed and Breakfast (4 or fewer bedrooms) are not covered by the Tourism Traffic Act 1939, which insists on hotels, caravan, and camping sites being registered. The last survey of Self-catering in Ireland by Failte Ireland in 2014 showed there were more units of accommodation along the Wild Atlantic Way area than hotels or caravan and camping. Since the pandemic consumers are more focused on single-family units than hotels and on outdoor activity as its seen to be safer. There is now a greater demand for glamping, tiny houses, log cabins, and quirky individual accommodation as well as the traditional whole houses.

The Decline of Self-Catering in Ireland

Best in Galway

Thatch Cottages vacation homes, Connemara, Ireland

The number of self-catering units has declined in the past 5 years in Ireland for many reasons

  • Family returning to rural areas and taking up the accommodation
  • Retirement of owners and selling off property to fund the pension. These houses may then go into the second home market and therefore lost to a short-term rental.
  • In Urban areas, Rent Pressure Zone legislation has closed many of the traditional self-catering units. International companies have opened apart-hotels and apartments to replace this traditional STR market.  Many of the self-catering apartments which closed before Covid have not re-opened in urban areas.


Bed and Breakfast or Agritourism

Best in Donegal

Relax on a Self-Catering holiday in Ireland

Traditionally tourists stayed at Self Catering Houses or Bed and Breakfasts (BnB) across rural Ireland.  However, the number of Bed and Breakfast units has greatly reduced in the past 5 years.  Many BnB owners have either retired, did not re-open after Covid restrictions, or have taken on government contracts. The majority of BnB are now in urban areas.  Family farms also earned extra money by offering bed and breakfast accommodation in the home with up to 4 bedrooms with a per night rate

But now family farms are looking to new markets as can be seen from the re-launch of the Agritourism sector in Ireland.  A Conference was held by Teagasc and the ISCF on 22/05/2023 with a range of speakers and experts to discuss considerations for setting up a business. The ISCF advises on supports and requirements available to set up a viable family farm business.


Looking to the Future

Cobh Cork

Stay in self-catering in Cork

The population of Ireland has increased rapidly.  Unfortunately, the accommodation provided by the State, local authorities, and private builders has not kept pace. The increased number of refugees and economic migrants who have arrived in Ireland since early 2022 has increased the pressure on accommodation providers.  Many hotels, BnB and Self-Catering Units managed by hotels on their grounds are being used to house these families. The housing system was under strain before the refugees arrived and in the 12 months up to May 2023 the STR sector was being called on to provide accommodation, with more long-term landlords selling up and leaving the market.

Self-Catering is mostly rural, essential to the economy of these communities, and needs to be developed to support greater economic independence. There needs to be a more diverse range of accommodations with family businesses managing to provide a range of different types of short-term accommodation throughout Ireland.

Self-catering is a solution to tourism accommodation needs, fits in with the landscape, and is the most sustainable way to provide more tourism accommodation by renovating old farm buildings, additional glamping pods, cabins, yurts, and other systems of accommodation which the market now demands, as well as the traditional luxury houses. What Self-catering in all its forms and the new types of tourism accommodation need to develop is clear Planning Guidelines which will treat coastal and rural accommodation favorably, and not treat the development the same as the development of a hotel. Because as we know in the Irish Self-Catering Federation, its the most sustainable, eco-friendly, fun way to travel in rural Irelands Greenways and Blueways.

Family Farm offered Holiday Homes – Closed due to RPZ rule A

Own a Self-Catering property or want to set up a business – Contact the ISCF for more Details or for Membership.


All Diagrams Courtesy of Central Statistics Office Preliminary Results of 2022 Census Published 29/05/2023.