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 various counties in the hinterland of the city in Ireland. Legally, the district of the National Transport Authority has defined it for transportation purposes, but other definitions vary. Popularly understood, the Greater Dublin Area includes the Dublin Region that is made up of the city of Dublin (that part of the capital city within the jurisdiction of Dublin City Council) and three neighbouring counties: South Dublin, Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown and Fingal. It may also include the Mid-East Region, which abuts the Dublin Region. In this case, it would include the local government areas of County Meath, County Kildare, and County Wicklow. While these regions are part of the "NUTS" system of the European Union, there is no Eurostat recognition of the combined regions. The area is sometimes referred to colloquially as The Pale. This term of historical significance is often used to emphasise or indeed even to criticise the Anglo-Irish aspect of its outlook and the acutely bi-cultural nature of its heritage.

Former boundaries

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.

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. This bill was never enacted. On 1 December 2009 the DTO was dissolved so this term, if it ever had legal significance, ceased to have relevance as far as the DTO is concerned.[1]

Garda usage

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 An 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 [1]. Bray moved into the new County Wicklow Division and became district headquarters for the Bray District [2].

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.

Planning usage

The Regional Planning Guidelines [3] refer to the Greater Dublin Area. In this context, the area of Dublin and its environs is to be consolidated as a suburban and metropolitan district. It differentiates between which towns are considered suburbs, and which are considered commuter towns. The area is considered as being from Swords and Malahide in Fingal to Greystones in County Wicklow in the south, and as far west as Kilcock in County Kildare. This differs from the Garda designation in that it stretches some 20 km further west.


The population of the Greater Dublin Area (using the second definition of Dublin City, Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown, Fingal, South Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow) as of Census 2011 was 1,801,040 persons.[2] This equates to 39.3% 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.[3] 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 first definition which comprises Dublin City (as legally defined) together with its suburbs in the three adjacent counties of Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown; Fingal; and South Dublin. [4] The boundaries for suburbs are not legally defined, but drawn and revised by the CSO in accordance with United Nations recommendations.[5] The population of the Dublin urban area in 2011 was as follows:[6]

Total 1,273,069
City 527,612
– in Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown 206,261
– in Fingal 273,991
– in South Dublin 265,205

The population of the Greater Dublin area in 2011 was as follows:[7]

City 527,612
Suburbs 745,457
Outer Greater Dublin (Meath, Kildare and Wicklow) 527,971


Census Year Population[8] Proportion†
1841 683,232 10.5%
1851 740,597 14.5%
1861 698,050 15.9%
1871 663,131 16.4%
1881 652,569 16.9%
1891 628,539 18.1%
1901 640,093 19.9%
1911 669,625 21.3%
1926 685,242 23.1%
1936 774,791 26.1%
1946 827,725 28.0%
1961 906,347 32.2%
1971 1,062,220 35.7%
1981 1,290,154 37.5%
1986 1,336,119 37.8%
1991 1,350,595 38.3%
1996 1,405,671 38.8%
2002 1,535,446 39.2%
2006 1,662,536 39.2%
2011 1,801,040 39.3%

† "Proportion" here means the proportion of people living in the GDA when compared with the number living in the territory that is the present-day Republic of Ireland.

See also


  1. Retrieved from Dublin Transportation Office.
  2. Population of each Province, County and City, 2006[dead link]
  3. CSO Ireland – Regional Population Projections 2011–2026
  4. Central Statistics Office (Ireland) (26 April 2007). Census 2006 Volume 1 – Population Classified by Area: Appendices (PDF). Central Statistics Office. Appendix 2, p.164: Dublin Area. Retrieved 15 September 2007. The description Greater Dublin Area in the 2006 Census denotes Dublin City and its suburbs<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 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. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Population of each Province, County and City, 2011". Retrieved 27 May 2013. |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Population of each Province, County and City, 2011". Retrieved 27 May 2013. |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Central Statistics Office – Census of Population Database

External links