ISLAND NATION: Is enough being done to tackle depopulation of Ireland’s islands?
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Population decline on the Irish islands was an ever-present threat for island dwellers following the Famine of the 1840s, and is on the cards again with worrying declines in recent years.

In 1841, 34,000 people lived on over 60 of our offshore islands. Today, the country’s 27 remaining inhabited islands have a combined permanent population closer to just 2,700 - and numbers are dropping.

Community groups have raised concerns for decades over the depopulation crisis, calling for specific State policy to recognise the unique challenges faced across housing, healthcare and a range of other issues.

Yet, the State has not introduced an island-specific policy plan for 25 years, despite island residents offering ideas and solutions to give our offshore islands a platform through coordinated, joined-up policy to thrive, and not just survive.

These are issues facing islanders across Europe, and related to this, Noteworthy was contacted by The Ferret in Scotland to join them and IrpiMedia in Italy as part of a project to examine island depopulation across a number of European countries.

This project was supported by’s Local Cross-Border Journalism fund, with additional funding from our investigative fund required to complete this cross-border project.


Over the course of four months, we took a deep dive into the key issues facing our islands causing their numbers to drop and pushing them closer to depopulation.

This involved trips to the islands, speaking with dozens of locals and community groups as well as pressing local and national authorities on their roles and responsibilities in supporting islanders into the future.

We produced five articles and a podcast as part of this series, examining the lack of island-specific policies, housing constraints, healthcare concerns, damaged pier infrastructure and lack of support for island fishers.

  • Read the results of this investigation here>>

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