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Census 1901 & 1911

Dwyer Family, Barrack St., Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo.

Census returns for 1901 and 1911 are expected to be available online for Dublin next year and for the country as a whole in three years time. Meanwhile, microfilm versions of those for the Dublin City area are available in the Public Library in  Pearse St., in Dublin, and for the rest of the country in the National Archive.

I decided to visit the National Archive and look up the returns for my grandfather's family in Ballyhaunis.

The results of my perusal of the census returns, along with some commentary, are set out below. I have added some material at the end from sources other than the census to give a bit of depth to the read.

Points supported by the tables below

The following points, arising from the census data reproduced in the tables below, interested me on a first quick reading:
  • Unlike the case with the Burgesses, the ages given are very reliable and entirely consistent as between the two censuses.
  • The ages given in the censuses suggest that Margaret had a child every two years between the age of 22 and 44. The census records only 10 of their 11 children, all of whom were still living in 1911. The difference would be accounted for by Jane, who had gone to the US by 1901.
  • Margaret (the mother) is listed as having no occupation in the 1901 census and her occupation is given as "wife" in the 1911 census.
  • By 1911 Michael had retired and they had taken in a boarder, presumably to support the family income.

Additional points not reproduced in the tables below

Census data not reproduced in the tables below can be summarised as follows:
  • Michael Dwyer, Head of the Family, came from County Limerick.
  • Margaret, his wife, was born in Co. Mayo.
  • All the family were Roman Catholic
  • All, down to the age of 5 years, could read and write.
  • All the children were single while residing in the house
  • All the children were born in Co. Mayo.
  • The 1901 census recorded no competence in the Irish language in the family, but by 1911 the two teenage daughters had acquired the ability to read and write Irish. This may not have been unrelated to the arrival of the boarder, a 22 year old bachelor and national teacher from Co. Sligo, who is recorded as having similar competence.
  • the house was listed as a 2nd class house, consisting of
    • brick walls
    • slate roof
    • 4 rooms [occupied by 8 people in 1901 and 10 in 1911]
    • 3 windows in front
  • Michael Dwyer signed the 1901 form twice, once as head of household, completing the return, and again as enumerator, collecting and checking it for accuracy.
  • The authorities pointed out that the Enumerators were not allowed to seek any information other than that required to complete the forms, and they guaranteed that the Returns would not be "used for the gratification of curiosity" on pain of sanction under the Official Secrets Act, 1889.

Tables - selected data

Census 1901 - Dwyer Family, Barrack St., Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo.

Christian Name Surname Relation to Head of Family Age Rank, Profession or Occupation
Michael Dwyer Head of Family 40 Constable RIC
Margaret Dwyer Wife 34 --
William Dwyer Son 12 Scholar
Bridget Dwyer Daughter 10 Scholar
John Dwyer Son 7 Scholar
Norah Dwyer Daughter 6 Scholar
Margaret Dwyer Daughter 4 Scholar
Michael Dwyer Son 1 --

Census 1911 - Dwyer Family, Barrack St., Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo.

Christian Name Surname Relation to Head of Family Age Rank, Profession or Occupation
Michael Dwyer Head of Family 51 Ex Constable RIC
Margaret Dwyer Wife 45 Wife
Norah Dwyer Daughter 16 Scholar
Margaret Dwyer Daughter 14 Scholar
Michael Dwyer Son 11 Scholar
Luke Dwyer Son 7 Scholar
Patrick Dwyer Son 5 Scholar
James Dwyer Son 3 Scholar
Mary Dwyer Daughter 1 --
John Hand Boarder 22 National Teacher

Some additional extracensory points:

  • Michael Dwyer, my grandfather, was born in Limerick and joined the RIC in February 1881, aged just under 21. He was initially assigned to Mayo for 7 years. He married in 1888 and was then assigned to Longford for a year, after which he returned to Mayo, where he remained until he was pensioned just before the 1911 census. Members of the RIC had to have 7 years service before they were permitted to marry and it is interesting that Michael, and his father in law who was also an RIC constable, both married exactly 7 years after recruitment.
  • Luke, was my father. He came to Dublin sometime in the 1920s and was a clerk in what became CIE.
  • John had already left the house by the 1911 census, presumably to work in the Civil Service in London, where he eventually joined the British Army and was killed on the Somme in 1916 (separate page here. )
  • Patrick, Paddy, was drowned aged 17 in rather unusual circumstances, which are reported here.
  • Michael, Mick, also came to Dublin and became a businessman. He married into the Ferguson family, of cake fame.
  • James, Jimmy, played senior GAA for his county.
  • Bridget (Bea) and Norah married two Kelly brothers.
  • Mary, Mollie, never married and looked after granny in the family house.


These are some photos from, various sources, including my late mother's collection.
They cover all the family with the exception of Michael (Snr), Paddy and Jane.

Hover the cursor for details (javascript and activex must be enabled)

Check out other photos of Ballyhaunis

View a draft family tree.
This is a very preliminary draft. It is on a single page to facilitate scrolling. You can zoom in to check entries. You will need adobe reader as it is a pdf document. The reader can be downloaded (free) from
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