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Four Centuries of Irish Emigration: a profile

Emigration 1600-1700


Seventeenth century Ireland witnessed very significant levels of population turnover and migration. Approximately 260,000 British settlers came to Ireland during the course of the century whilst an estimated 130,000 Irish emigrated over the same period. The significance of these migration flows is enhanced if we consider them in a relative rather than absolute way. The contemporary emigrant flow for the century is less than the numbers who left during certain single years in the later 1840s. Given that Irelandís estimated population in 1641 was only 2.1 million, however, we can deduce that the emigration rate constituted about 6.2% of mid-century population. The dominant destination throughout the century for Irish migrants was continental Europe which absorbed some 90,000 migrants. Of these the majority were military migrants leaving Ireland in particular volume after the military reverses of 1601, the early 1650s and 1691. The Americas, particularly the British Caribbean, became a significant destination during the second half of the century, receiving an estimated 30,000 migrants. Britain during the course of the century received Irish migrants and returning settlers who may have constituted as a whole, a movement of about 10,000 souls.

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