Greater Dublin Area

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Numbered map of the Greater Dublin Area
  1. Dublin city
  2. Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown
  3. South Dublin
  4. Fingal
  5. Meath
  6. Kildare
  7. Wicklow

The Greater Dublin Area (GDA; Irish: Mórcheantar Bhaile Átha Cliath), or simply Greater Dublin, is the city of Dublin and its hinterland, with varying definitions as to its extent. The Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008 has defined the Greater Dublin Area as including the counties of Dublin (Dublin City, South Dublin, Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown and Fingal), Meath, Kildare, and Wicklow.[1] However, this area does not comprise a formal political unit. The term can also apply more narrowly to the Dublin urban area and nearby suburban towns.

Former boundaries[edit]

The urban part of Dublin and surrounding areas has been defined by various statutory instruments, mainly those referring to the Garda Síochána and Courts of the Republic of Ireland. However, since 2009, the Garda Division of the Dublin Metropolitan Area no longer overlaps, if it ever did, with the Greater Dublin Area; it is instead co-extensive with the Dublin Region.[2]

The city and five counties were mentioned in the order creating the Dublin Transportation Office, giving functions and representations to the office in the Greater Dublin Area, although not using the term. The office was purely advisory and had no executive powers. The term was also defined in section 3 of the Dublin Transportation Authority Bill, 2008.[1] On 1 December 2009 the DTO became the National Transport Authority, with a remit expanding beyond the Greater Dublin Area.[3]

Garda usage[edit]

The Garda used the term the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) which was formerly the jurisdiction, within the eastern part of Ireland, of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, which was subsequently merged into the Garda Síochána, the national police force of Ireland. This jurisdiction covered parts of the old County Dublin (except the northern part around Swords) as well as the County Kildare town of Leixlip and the County Wicklow towns of Bray, Greystones and Enniskerry. Swords was covered by the Meath Garda Division. In this way, it differed from the usual definition of County Dublin and did not even conform to the looser definition of the Greater Dublin Area. The definition no longer applies as during 2008 the Garda Divisions were realigned along Regional and county boundaries. As of 2009, the Dublin Metropolitan Region is co-extensive with the Dublin Region.

Leixlip was moved to the County Kildare Division and became the district headquarters for the new Leixlip District.[4] Bray moved into the new County Wicklow Division and became district headquarters for the Bray District.[5]

The term originated from the Police Forces Amalgamation Act, 1925 (Section 3); that act amalgamated the Dublin Metropolitan Police and Garda Síochána as one national police force.[6]

Planning usage[edit]

The 2003 Regional Planning Guidelines referred to the Greater Dublin Area as a planning district separated into a "metropolitan area" and a "hinterland area".[7]

The "metropolitan area" included both suburbs and commuter towns, covering the area from Swords and Malahide in Fingal, to Greystones in County Wicklow in the south, and as far west as Kilcock in County Kildare. This area differs from the Garda "metropolitan region" scope, in that it stretches approximately 20 km further west.

The "hinterland area" of the Greater Dublin Area was defined in the Regional Planning Guidelines as including a "range of towns of various sizes together with extensive areas of countryside".[7]


The population of the Dublin City, suburbs (Dublin City, Fingal, South Dublin & Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown) and Outer Greater Dublin (Meath, Kildare and Wicklow) as of Census 2016 was 1,904,806 persons.[8] This equates to 40.03% of Ireland's population. Estimates published by the Central Statistics Office suggest that the population will reach 2.1 million by 2021, and 2.4 million by 2026.[9] The figures are based on a regional breakdown of previously published national population projections and assume that current demographic trends will continue.

The CSO also uses the narrower definition which comprises Dublin City and its suburbs within the 3 local Dublin authorities. [10] The boundaries for suburbs are not legally defined, but drawn and revised by the CSO in accordance with United Nations recommendations.[11] The population distribution of the Greater Dublin Area as of the 2011 and 2016 censuses was as follows:[8][12]

Population of the Greater Dublin Area
per the 2011 and 2016 national censuses
Administrative division Population Population increase
2011 to 2016
2011 2016
Greater Dublin Area
Dublin Region
Dublin City 527,612 553,165 25,553
Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown 206,261 217,274 11,013
Fingal 273,991 296,214 22,223
South Dublin 265,205 278,749 13,544
Dublin Region 1,273,069 1,345,402 72,333
County Meath 184,135 194,942 10,807
County Kildare 210,312 222,130 11,818
County Wicklow 136,640 142,332 5,692
Meath, Kildare, Wicklow 531,087 559,404 28,317
Greater Dublin Area 1,804,156 1,904,806 100,650


Population of the Greater Dublin Area, 1841–2016[13]
Census year Population Population change
since previous census
of population of Ireland
1841 683,232 ? 10.5%
1851 740,597 Increase 57,365 in 10 years Increase 14.5%
1861 698,050 Decrease 42,547 in 10 years Increase 15.9%
1871 663,131 Decrease 34,919 in 10 years Increase 16.4%
1881 652,569 Decrease 10,562 in 10 years Increase 16.9%
1891 628,539 Decrease 24,030 in 10 years Increase 18.1%
1901 640,093 Increase 11,554 in 10 years Increase 19.9%
1911 669,625 Increase 29,532 in 10 years Increase 21.3%
1926 685,242 Increase 15,617 in 15 years Increase 23.1%
1936 774,791 Increase 89,549 in 10 years Increase 26.1%
1946 827,725 Increase 52,934 in 10 years Increase 28.0%
1961 906,347 Increase 78,622 in 15 years Increase 32.2%
1971 1,062,220 Increase 155,873 in 10 years Increase 35.7%
1981 1,290,154 Increase 227,934 in 10 years Increase 37.5%
1986 1,336,119 Increase 45,965 in 5 years Increase 37.8%
1991 1,350,595 Increase 14,476 in 5 years Increase 38.3%
1996 1,405,671 Increase 55,076 in 5 years Increase 38.8%
2002 1,535,446 Increase 129,775 in 6 years Increase 39.2%
2006 1,662,536 Increase 127,090 in 4 years 39.2%
2011 1,801,040 Increase 138,504 in 5 years Increase 39.3%
2016 1,904,806 Increase 103,766 in 5 years Increase 40.0%

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Dublin Transport Authority Act, s. 3: Greater Dublin Area (Act No. 15 of 2008, s. 3). 16 July 2008. Act of the Oireachtas. Irish Statute Book.
  2. ^ Local Government Act, s. 36: Committees – general (S.I. No. 394 of 1993, s. 36). 20 December 1993. Statutory Instrument of the Government of Ireland. Irish Statute Book.
  3. ^ Public Transport Regulation Act (Act No. 27 of 2009). 27 November 2009. Act of the Oireachtas. Irish Statute Book.
  4. ^ Bauress, Henry (14 October 2008). "New 24-hour Leixlip garda station opens". Leinster Leader. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013.
  5. ^ "Bray to become Garda HQ for County Wicklow". Bray People. 9 May 2008. Archived from the original on 2 October 2011. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  6. ^ Police Forces Amalgamation Act, s. 3: Dublin Metropolitan Area (Act No. 7 of 1925, s. 3). 2 April 1925. Act of the Oireachtas. Irish Statute Book.
  7. ^ a b "Draft Regional Report – Greater Dublin Area" (PDF). Regional Planning Guidelines. Dublin and Mid-East Regional Authorities. December 2003. p. 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 January 2004. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  8. ^ a b "Population of each Province, County and City, 2016". Central Statistics Office. Archived from the original on 31 August 2017. Retrieved 16 July 2016.
  9. ^ "CSO Ireland – Regional Population Projections 2011–2026". Archived from the original on 30 July 2018. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  10. ^ "Appendix 2: Dublin Area" (PDF). Census 2006 Volume 1 – Population Classified by Area: Appendices. Central Statistics Office. 26 April 2007. p. 164. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 15 September 2007. The description Greater Dublin Area in the 2006 Census denotes Dublin City and its suburbs
  11. ^ Central Statistics Office (Ireland) (26 April 2007). Census 2006 Volume 1 – Population Classified by Area: Appendices. Appendix 2, p.163: Towns (i) Towns with Legally Defined Boundaries. where urban areas have extended beyond the legally defined town boundary, the Central Statistics Office draws up new boundaries defining the suburban areas of Cities/Boroughs ... for census purposes ... in conformity with United Nations recommendations, as the continuation of a distinct population cluster outside its legally defined boundary in which no occupied dwelling is more than 200 metres distant from the nearest occupied dwelling ... The suburban boundaries were reviewed for each subsequent census. A comprehensive review was carried out as part of the processing phase of the 2006 Census.
  12. ^ "Population of each County and City, 2011". Central Statistics Office. Archived from the original on 10 March 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  13. ^ "Central Statistics Office – Census of Population Database". Archived from the original on 3 August 2009. Retrieved 24 February 2010.

External links[edit]