Ireland has one of the highest fertility rates in Europe... but birth rate is beginning to wane
We may have one of the highest fertility rates in Europe - but the number of babies born in Ireland is beginning to wane.
There were 17,183 births in the first three months of the year - 516 fewer newborns compared with the same period in 2014.
But our birth rate of 14.9 per 1,000 residents is only marginally down and easily eclipses the EU average of 10.1.
In total, some 8,754 boys and 8,429 girls, were born from January to March this year.
Almost 40pc of births were to first time mothers, and their average age continues to creep upwards with the figure now at 30.6 years.
This reflected a marginal rise of 0.1.
However, the average age for mothers who were not in a marriage or civil partnership was younger at 27.9 years.
The average age of all new mothers in this sector was 29.4 years.
Over one third of all births are now registered to women who are not married or who are not in a civil partnership.
There were 55 infant deaths recorded for the period.
The latest CSO figures also show that Limerick City had the highest number of babies born outside marriage or civil partnerships, while Dun Laoghaire in south Dublin had the lowest.
Only four babies were recorded as born within a civil partnership.
The figures show that marriage remains very much in vogue with 3,665 people getting hitched in the first three months of 2015.
The annual marriage rate is now 3.2 per 1,000 people, the same rate as the corresponding quarter of 2014.
The number of civil partnerships registered in the first quarter of 2015 was 81 – an increase of 13.
The highest number of births was in Dublin city which accounted for more than one in 10 babies born in Ireland.
Cork county was next – while Leitrim was bottom of the table registering just 0.7pc of the total.
Nationally the percentage of babies born to mothers of Irish nationality remained constant at around 78pc.
Meanwhile, there were 8,604 deaths in the first quarter of the year, up by 494 or 6.1pc.
The leading causes of death vary greatly depending on age group.
Suicide and accidents rated high for young adults aged 15 to 34 and in total there were 264 deaths due to accidents or suicide.
Of these, almost three quarters were male.
Cancers were the leading cause of death for those aged 35-74.
For those aged 75 and older, it was diseases of the heart and arteries.
Ireland’s population increased by 8,579 this year - and now stands at 4.6 million.