We’re better educated – but some areas have fallen to back of the class
Ireland's population is better educated than a decade ago but some towns are lagging behind.
The number of people aged 15 years and older in education has risen by more than 22pc since 2006, as those whose highest level of educational attainment of primary or Junior Cert level fell and those with a Leaving Cert rose.
There are also more people with a third-level qualification, with almost one in four (23.47pc) aged over 15 completing a degree course or higher.
This is an increase of 67pc or 353,501 between 2006 and 2016.
But data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) shows that in some parts of the country, particularly those with older populations, attainment rates are lower than the national average.
The highest level of education attainment for 10.29pc of the national population is primary level, which is a drop of 24.82pc or 127,587 people. Nationally, some 386,498 are educated to primary level.
But five towns - Lifford and Convoy in Co Donegal, Clones in Co Monaghan, Castlecomer-Donaguile in Co Kilkenny and Bunclody-Carrickduff in Co Wexford - buck the trend, with 20pc or more of the population falling into this cohort.
For Junior Cert, the State average is 11.98pc, meaning almost 450,000 people fall into this category, which is a drop of more than 123,000 or 21.56pc.
But 23pc of those living in Fethard in Co Tipperary have a maximum attainment level of Junior Cert.
The data also shows that the maximum level achieved by 845,175 of the population is the Leaving Cert, which represents 22.5pc of those aged 15 years or older. This is up 41,677 or 5.19pc.
The highest rate is in Claremorris in Co Mayo at 31.19pc, up 25.8pc or 183. Of 201 towns, more than 30pc of the population of five towns has the Leaving Cert as their highest level of educational attainment. The others are Cahir and Cashel in Co Tipperary, and Ballyhaunis and Ballinrobe in Co Mayo.
The data also shows that the town with the highest percentage of its population in education is the fast-growing commuter town of Maynooth in Co Kildare, at 25.3pc, which is well ahead of the town in second place, Enniskerry in Co Wicklow at 17.1pc. But on third-level qualification, some areas stand out.
The CSO notes that 42pc of the population have a third-level qualification, which includes degrees, diplomas, doctorates and other qualifications. This compares with 30.5pc in 2006.
Within the towns, the highest rate is in Barna, Co Galway, at 45.46pc, followed by Oranmore in Co Galway at 44.56pc, Annacotty in Co Limerick at 42.61pc, Strandhill in Co Sligo at 42.56pc and Malahide, Dublin, at 40.52pc. The lowest rates are in Carrick-on-Suir in Co Tipperary at 8.9pc, followed by Ballyjamesduff in Co Cavan (9.3pc) and Edgeworthstown in Co Longford at 9.65pc. No other town has attainment rates below 10pc.
Within the cities, the rates vary. The highest third-level attainment rate is in Galway city at 55pc, followed by Dublin city (49.6pc), Cork city (45.4pc), Limerick city (39.8pc) and Waterford city (35.4pc). But within the cities, there are vast differences.
Broken down by electoral division, of which there are 3,440 across the State, the CSO says that in Dublin, some 83.8pc of those living in Pembroke West C - which is in Dublin 4 - have a third-level degree. This is the highest rate anywhere in the State. Conversely, in Priorswood B, which is in Darndale, it falls to only 9.6pc of the population. The lowest third-level attainment rate is John's A on King's Island in Limerick, where it stands at 4.1pc.