British & Irish immigration, 1840-1914

Page 6 – The Irish

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 map showing regional boundaries of Ireland Leinster Munster Ulster Connaught
1840–52 34.1% 27.8% 31.7% 6.3%
1853–70 19.9% 31.7% 39.8% 8.5%
1871–80 16.1% 34.5% 42% 9.4%
1881–1915 13.8% 31.5% 48.4% 6.3%
1911–15 20% 20% 56% 4%
UK Census 1871 23.9% 25.9% 34.2% 16%

The table and graph suggest:

  • People born in Leinster, and especially in County Dublin, were very well represented during the migrations of the 1840s, but then declined proportionately through the century. The early Leinster influx probably reflects the Anglo-Irish in Auckland and the discharge of soldiers from the British army who were often recruited around Dublin.
  • The Irish were predominantly from Munster in the South-west and Ulster in the North. The Munster immigrants were overwhelmingly of Catholic background and emigrated in large numbers from Australia especially during the gold rushes. During the 1870s Munster Catholics were active in nominating their relatives for assisted immigration. The numbers from Munster began to decline once assistance was terminated.
  • Ulster provided a very significant part of the Irish inflow, and it became more significant as time progressed. By the eve of the Great War those from Ulster comprised about 56% of Irish immigrants. Between a fifth and a quarter of the Ulster settlers were Catholic; and among the Protestants the numbers of Presbyterians increased over time. The increasing proportion of the Irish deriving from Ulster in part reflected the preference for Protestants among New Zealand immigration authorities.
  • There were consistently very few immigrants from Connaught.
How to cite this page

'The Irish', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 8-Dec-2014