UNEMPLOYMENT figures have dropped by almost 34,000 over the last 12 months.
The total number of people in employment increased by 42,700 in the first quarter of the year, bringing the workforce to 1,888,200.
Employment increased by 1,700, or 0.1pc in the quarter, according to latest figures from the Central Statistics Office.
It followed an increase in employment of 10,600, or 0.6pc, in the fourth quarter of 2013.
Unemployment decreased by 33,900, or 11.6pc, in the year to the first quarter of 2014, bringing the total number of people unemployed to 258,100.
The long-term unemployment rate decreased from 8.4pc to 7.3pc over the year to the first quarter of 2014.
Long-term unemployment accounted for 60.5pc of total unemployment in the first three months of 2014, compared with 61.8pc a year earlier and 63.5pc in the first quarter of 2012.
Meanwhile, the number of people visiting Ireland increased by 7.5pc in the three months from February to April, according to the CSO figures.
Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar has welcomed the figures which he said were “very encouraging”.
Among the findings, it emerged that trips from Great Britain were up by 15.2pc, when compared to the same period last year.
The figures show that there were 1.6 million overseas visits to Ireland during the three months to the end of April.
Visits from mainland Europe were up by 3.1pc, with Germany, up 16.9pc and Spain up 11.3pc.
However, visits from North America were down by 4.6pc, while visits from the rest of the world increased by 7pc.
“I’m delighted to see these strong figures, which are very encouraging as we enter the peak tourism season,” Mr Varadkar said.
“Our marketing of Ireland overseas for 2014 is progressing well and the recent successful visit of the Giro D’Italia has provided us with a major publicity boost.
“Since the Government came to office the number of international visitors coming to Ireland has increased by more than a million,” the minister added.