IRELAND'S population has risen above five million for the first time since 1851, according to new figures.

Data published today by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) shows that the Republic of Ireland’s population now stands at around 5.01 million.

The 1851 census came amid the impact of the Great Famine, which devastated Ireland for several years in the middle of the 19th century.

The total population on the island of Ireland in 1851 was 6.6 million.

The country’s population has been steadily rising since a low point in 1961.

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The population in 2021 is around 2.2 million higher than 60 years earlier.

The new figures show that the Republic’s population increased by 34,000 between April 2020 and April 2021.

More than 65,000 people immigrated to Ireland in that 12-month period, with nearly half of those estimated to be returning Irish nationals.

The CSO believes that it is the highest number of returnees since 2007.

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Dublin saw its population grow only slightly in the last year – adding only 8,000 people to the capital to bring the total to 1.43 million.

That represents 28.5% of the total population.

James Hegarty, a CSO statistician, said that some of the data will reflect “the demographic and social impacts of Covid-19”.

The latest figures show that the over-65 population increased by 22,000 in the 12 months prior to April 2021. A total of 742,000 people in Ireland are aged above 65 – a rise of nearly 20% since 2016.