North Tipperary: A Socio-Economic and Demographic Profile
by Dr. Brendan O’Keeffe, Dept. of Geography, Mary Immaculate College.
This report presents a profile of North Tipperary, based-on key demographic, economic and social
indicators. It draws on data from the Census of Population and Census of Agriculture. The text
presented here is accompanied by a series of maps, which enable a detailed spatial analysis of the
main development issues and trends within the County at the level of the Electoral Division.
Electoral Divisions (EDs) were formerly known as District Electoral Divisions (DEDs) and these
are among the smallest geographical units for which census data is available. Census data for 2006
can be further broken down into Enumerator Areas (EAs) in most urban centres. However, when
profiling an extensive area with a mix of urban and rural settlements, the use of ED-level data is
more appropriate. Moreover, as 2006 is the only census year for which EA-level data is available,
ED-level data is required for any comparative analysis over time. The following map shows the
EDs in the County.
North Tipperary is a medium-sized Irish county. It is centrally located on the Island of Ireland, and
it comprises part of the Mid-West Region, which also includes Limerick City and County and
North Tipperary has a total population (2006) of 65,988 persons. This represents an increase of
4,978 persons or 8.2%, relative to 2002, which is in line with the national average. Although
predominantly a rural county, parts of North Tipperary are experiencing intensive urbanisation and
suburbanisation, particularly the southwest. The towns of Nenagh (pop. 7,424), Thurles (pop.
7,174), Roscrea (pop. 4,910) and Templemore (pop. 2,255) account for 32.45% of the County (The
following map displays the distribution of towns and villages). Population growth in and around
Nenagh has been striking, with the town overtaking Thurles as the most populous town in the
County within the past five years. These urban centres represent a strong basis for polycentric
development (inter-nodal networking), as envisaged in the European Spatial Development
Perspective. Thus, collaboration between these towns is essential in generating critical mass and in
promoting balanced spatial development in the County and in the Mid-West Region.
Almost two-thirds of people in North Tipperary live in the open countryside and in small towns and
villages. Thus, rural development is integral to the sustainable development of the County, and as
this profile demonstrates, a one-size-fits-all approach would be inappropriate. Instead, North
Tipperary requires locally-based and tailored interventions that respond to the development needs
and potential of all localities and communities.
The mean population density in North Tipperary is 31.7 persons per km2. As the map presented
here shows, the highest densities are in the four main urban centres and in the areas immediately
adjoining them. Areas with population densities that exceed the county and national averages are
concentrated in the west of the county along the boundary with County Limerick and the districts
immediately adjoining Nenagh Rural to the north and south. Similar densities (ranging between 50
and 100 persons per km2 can be found in districts to the east and south of Thurles including
Holycross, Littleton and Twomileborris, as well as in Borrisoleigh. However, over two-thirds of
Electoral Divisions in the County have low population densities, with less than 20 persons per km2.
These rural communities extend across a wide area north of Borrisokeane, The Silvermines and
surrounding areas extending eastwards towards Holycross as well as from around The Devil’s Bit
eastwards to the boundaries with Counties Laois and Kilkenny. These rural areas have a fragile
economic base with a high dependence on agriculture, but they are steeped in tradition, heritage and
culture and have a pristine natural environment, such that their development potential is very
Over the past decade, population growth has been greatest in areas along the N7 National Primary
Route between Nenagh and Limerick City. Here, the towns of Newport and Ballina have
experienced population growth rates of 29% and 43% respectively1. While the overall trend is
towards population growth, the following graph confirms that growth is uneven throughout the
County and that the cumulative trend is masking significant population decline in many parts of
Fig, 1: Percentage Population Change in Towns2 and Rural Districts
in North Tipperary, 2002 to 2006
% Population Change
Within rural districts, especially Borrisokeane and Thurles, a number of EDs experienced population
decline of over 10% during the past decade. Tackling the persistence of population decline across
extensive areas of North Tipperary requires a strong commitment to rural- and equality-proofing and
strong inter-agency collaboration.
The map presented here shows the percentage population change in each ED in the County between
1996 and 2006, and it reveals considerable spatial variations. During these ten years the total
population of North Tipperary grew by just over 14%. As the map shows, there was strong
population growth throughout the southwest of the County, with the highest levels of growth being
in Ballina (+132%), Derrycastle (+36%), Birdhill (+25%), Kilcomentry (+23%) and in the environs
of Nenagh town. The immediate hinterland of Thurles (within a 10km) radius of the town and the
ED of Twomileborris also experienced strong population growth.
While some EDs in the northern part of the County (north of Ardconey) have experienced slight
population increases, the general trend in this part of the county is downward, and the greatest
Figures presented here relate to Electoral Divisions, which include the towns and their surrounding townlands.
population losses have been in the EDs of Templederry (-22%), Redwood (-22%), Mertonhall (-
13%) and Graigue (-9%). A similar downward trend can be observed in the centre of the County,
particularly in the areas to the south of Toomevara. Pockets of population decline are also evident in
the more rural parts of the east of the County, notably in Ballymurreen and Ballycahill.
As the following map illustrates, a similar spatial pattern can be observed for the period 2002 to
2006 (the most recent inter-censal period). Population growth in the entire south-west, with the
exception of The Silvermines has accelerated in relative terms, over the past four years. Population
growth around Nenagh has diffused over a larger rural area, extending over a 15km radius from the
town. Rural EDs in the centre of the County record very modest levels of population growth, while
a number of areas in the north, east and south continue to experience decline. This decline in
population is most prevalent in the north of the county, notably Terryglass, Redwood and rural parts
of Aglish. The spatial patterns illustrated by the maps presented here clearly demonstrate that North
Tipperary’s population is becoming increasingly concentrated in the south west of the County, and
that addressing the consequent spatial imbalances will have to be a priority for all agencies over the
coming years. The designation of CLAR areas represents a recognition of the need to address the
structural deficits experienced by many rural areas in North Tipperary, and it is essential that all
agencies fully commit to the spirit of CLAR, and that they prioritise CLAR areas, rather than
responding to and facilitating free-market forces.
Economic Activities and Trends
Agriculture, food processing and agriculture-related services are very significant components of
North Tipperary’s economic base. Despite a contraction of the agriculture sector over the past ten
years, land-based activities will continue to be central to North Tipperary’s economic development.
The services sector has experienced considerable growth over the past decade, although increasing
numbers of commercial and professional employees work in Limerick and commute from North
Tipperary, rather than working within the County itself. While the proportion of the workforce
engaged in manufacturing has remained consistent since the mid-1990s, recent closures, such as
that of Procter & Gamble in Nenagh underline the vulnerability of Irish manufacturing to global
competition. The construction sector has experienced very considerable growth since 1996, and has
provided increased employment throughout the County in both urban and rural areas. However, its
current situation is precarious, and there is a clear need to promote new employment opportunities,
particularly in more rural areas.
In line with national and regional trends, North Tipperary has experienced a growth in the labour
force participation rate over recent years. The most recent census returns show that 56.5% of
persons aged 15+ are at work, which is slightly below the national average of 57.2%. The
following two maps highlight the spatial patterns in respect of key employment indicators. As the
first of these shows, labour force participation rates vary considerably throughout the County, with
the highest rates being in the environs of Nenagh, in areas adjacent to Limerick City and in the
districts surrounding Templemore. All of these areas have rates in excess of 60%, and as the
second map following shows, many have experienced very considerable increases in the number of
persons at work, with the highest increases being in Ballina (+52%), Nenagh East (+51%),
Youghlarra (+50%), Newport (+41%), Killoscully (+37%), Derrycastle (+35%) and Kilkeary
In contrast, labour force participation rates in the north of the County (north of Borrisokeane) and in
rural districts in the east are considerably below the regional and national averages. Rates of under
51% in Borrisokeane, Redwood, Clohaskin, Graigue (all in the Borrisokeane Rural District),
Rathnaveogue (Roscrea RD) and Ballymurreen and Longfordpass (Thurles RD). While at national
level, the number of persons at work has grown by 17.6% in the last inter-censal period, a number
of areas in North Tipperary record growth rates of less than 10%, while five EDs – Rathnaveogue,
Ballymurreen, Mertonhall, Terryglass, and Templederry – all experienced declines in the number of
persons at work. Overall growth in employment at national and regional level has not filtered
through to most districts in the north, centre, north east (excluding Roscrea and its immediate
hinterland) and south east of North Tipperary. Hence, locally-based economic diversification
strategies will have a key role to play in rejuvenating the economic fortunes of many districts.
**5 and 6
While the overall rate of unemployment (7.5%3) in North Tipperary is similar to the national rate,
some areas in the north of the County have rates in excess of 10%, including Borrisokeane and
Clohaskin, as clearly shown by the following map. The ED of Littleton and neighbourhoods in
Thurles, Nenagh and Roscrea also record levels of unemployment in excess of 10%.
Adjusted figure – includes first-time job-seekers.
As the following map shows, there are a number of EDs in the north and east of the County
especially in which the numbers of unemployed persons have increased, with the greatest
concentration being in Borrisokeane and the surrounding EDs.
The mean Economic Dependency Ratio (EDR) varies considerably throughout North Tipperary, as
the represented in the map presented below. The EDR is calculated as the ratio of the total
economic inactive population (children aged 14 and under, unemployed people, first-time job-
seekers, those engaged in home duties, retired people, students and those unable to work) to those at
work. The resulting ratio is the number of inactive persons to every one active person. Therefore the
higher the EDR, the more inactive people are dependant on the active population. The EDR helps to
highlight those areas with smaller numbers of income earners relative to the economically
dependent population. Nationally, the EDR is 1.20, while in North Tipperary, it stands at 1.25. In a
number of EDs, the EDR stands at over 1.5. Such areas include Borrisokeane, Graigue, Clohaskin
and Redwood in the north, and Kilrush and Littleton in the southeast. These EDs are the most
disadvantaged in economic and demographic terms in North Tipperary. The following map also
shows that a large cluster of EDs extending from Cloughjordan, northwards to Lorrha and from
there southwards to Knigh have EDRs that exceed 1.33, as do a number of EDs in the east of the
County, including the town of Roscrea. High EDR levels can be associated with an ageing
population in rural areas. However, the level in Roscrea (1.34) is associated with higher than
average levels of unemployment and low levels of participation in the workforce due to disability
and / or illness.
Sectoral Composition of the Workforce
The following bar-graph shows the sectoral composition of the County, Regional and National
workforce (2006 census).
Fig. 2: Sectoral Composition of the Workforce
Agri. & Mining
0 10 20 30 40 50 60
% of workforce
As the bar-chart shows, North Tipperary has a higher level of dependence on agriculture and a
lower level of service sector activity than the Mid-West Region and the State. Almost one-quarter
of the workforce in North Tipperary is engaged in agriculture or construction – two sectors that are
very susceptible to contraction over the coming years. In addition, the County has a relatively high
level of dependence on manufacturing. This profile points to a need to develop new economic
activities, particularly knowledge-economy industries and services in North Tipperary.
Clear spatial patterns in respect of economic activities can be observed across North Tipperary, as
can be observed from the following series of maps. The first of these maps shows the proportion of
the workforce engaged in the primary4 sector at ED level. It reveals that the highest proportions are
in the north, centre and east of the county. In several EDs in these areas, over 25% of the workforce
is engaged directly in agriculture, and consultations with Teagasc suggest that in some rural
communities a further 15% of the workforce is engaged in agriculture-related services (farm shops,
agricultural contractors, garages, suppliers, mills, co-operatives). The largest cluster of EDs with a
high level of dependence on farming is in the north of the County, along the boundary with County
Offaly. Many farms in this part of the County have to contend with poor and waterlogged soils;
margins are low as a result. Thus, this part of North Tipperary, together with upland areas in the
centre (Dolla, Upperchurch, Borrisnafarny) of the County ought to be priority areas in the roll-out
of a smallholder initiative for 2008-2013. The Roscrea Rural District has a high level of
dependence on agriculture, and is, in the context of rural-restructuring, the part of the County most
in need of economic diversification.
The maps confirm that sole occupation farmers are more prevalent in the north and east of the
territory. These are farmers who do not earn an income from any other occupation. Conversely, EDs
with the highest proportions of farmers who combine farming with another job emerge in the south-
west, the north-west and around Roscrea in the north-east, all districts with low proportions of full-
time farmers shows how the average scale of farm business varies throughout North Tipperary.
There is some agreement between the distributions of sole occupation farmers and higher averages
for farm business scale, an essential association for farmers dependent on farm income. However,
the overlap of low values for farm business scale and high values for sole occupation in rural
southern districts, south of Toomevara and west of Holycross signal other target areas for a
The primary sector includes agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining and quarrying.
**maps 10a to 10d (across 2 pages landscape?)
The construction sector has grown rapidly in Ireland since the mid-1990s, and this is evident in
North Tipperary and throughout the Mid West Region. As the following map shows, the proportion
of workers engaged in construction is highest in the west of the County, and in several EDs over
15% of all workers are employed in the sector. These figures are associated with an upsurge in
construction in the Greater Limerick Area and to some extent in Nenagh Town. However, as the
map shows, the areas with the greatest dependence on construction are rural areas, which
themselves have relatively low levels of house-building. This spatial pattern reveals middle and
long-distance commuting among construction workers. The areas from which construction workers
come, specifically Abington, Kilnarath, Kilmore and Rearcross traditionally had a high dependence
on agriculture, thus suggesting that many of the current construction workers are part-time farmers,
who are trying to supplement their farm income. As the construction sector is predicted to decline
over the coming years, farm households in these areas are likely to bear the brunt of falling
incomes, and will require specific supports. The current construction of the M7 Motorway is likely
to absorb some of the ‘fallout’ from the decline in the private construction sector. However, this
project is short-term, and more sustainable employment opportunities are needed.
The map presented here shows that the highest levels of engagement in manufacturing are in
Nenagh Town and the rural areas to its south – over a 10km radius. However, since the closure of
Procter & Gamble, and the consequent loss of 280 jobs (phased losses up to mid-2009),
manufacturing in North Tipperary has been dealt a serious blow. This closure comes in the wake of
a number redundancies in smaller industries in and around Nenagh over recent months, and the
general downturn in manufacturing and construction is likely to undermine commercial activity in
the town, which has already suffered from the down-scaling of Nenagh General Hospital in 2007.
As the map shows, Roscrea and its environs have a high level of engagement in manufacturing
employment, with 525 persons working in such industries. However, Roscrea and Thurles have
been adversely affected over the past ten years by the closures of plants by CM Offray, GMX
Moulinex and Miza Pharmaceuticals. These have resulted in the loss of over 400 industrial jobs,
and replacement industries have not been found. Instead, most of the growth in industrial
employment throughout North Tipperary over the past decade has occurred in small-scale and
micro-enterprises, many of which have been supported through successive LEADER Programmes.
Service sector employment is strongest in the west of the County, particularly in areas closest to
Limerick City, as demonstrated by the next map. This spatial pattern is associated with the location
of the University of Limerick, which is based in Castletroy – approximately 7km from Limerick, on
the County Tipperary side. With the growth of the University, and the parallel growth of
knowledge economy activities in the adjoining Plassey Technology Park, the population of scenic
areas in the southwest of North Tipperary has grown considerably over the past ten years. Thus,
areas such as Newport, Birdhill and Kilcomentry have considerable numbers of higher
professionals, whose skills and expertise represent a considerable resource for North Tipperary. At
present, many of these ‘newcomers’ to North Tipperary are oriented towards Limerick. Therefore,
the development of strong and vibrant community organisations and the fostering of local social
capital will be essential in enabling them to contribute more to the development of the communities
in which they reside.
Educational attainment levels in North Tipperary lag behind those of the State and the Mid-West
Region. The following diagram presents the levels of educational attainment in the population, and
it reveals that North Tipperary has proportionately more people with primary education only, and
lower numbers of people with third level qualifications.
Fig. 3: Educational Attainment Levels in North Tipperary, The Mid West Region and the
State, by highest level of education attained
among those aged 15+, who have completed full-time education.
State 38.15 28.19 29.08 4.57
Mid West 38.98 30.08 26.47 4.45
North Tipperary 41.26 31.39 23.38 3.97
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Primary / Lower Sec Upper Sec/ Vocational Third Level Not Stated
As the following maps show, educational attainment levels are generally lower in the more rural
parts of the County, although ED-level maps tend to mask educational disadvantage in a number of
urban neighbourhoods, particularly in Nenagh and Roscrea. The districts with the greatest
proportions of persons with no formal education / primary education only / lower second level
education are Templederry, Dolla and Foilnaman in the south of the County, Ballymurreen and
Longfordpass in the south east and Timoney and Killavinogue in the east. Thus, these communities
ought to be targeted in the roll-out of adult literacy support and second chance educational
A converse spatial trend can be observed in respect of persons with third level qualifications. The
highest levels (in excess of 30% of the adult population) are to be found in the west of the county –
between Limerick and Nenagh – excluding Nenagh Town. This pattern is associated with
professional employees commuting to and from Limerick. The current low levels of persons with
third level qualifications in the centre, south and east of the County point to the need for adult and
continuing education courses in these areas, and in particular for outreach programmes, such as
those provided by Tipperary Institute, which is based in Thurles.
**maps 14 and 15 landscape on the same page
Families and Household Structure
Successive studies by the Combat Poverty Agency and other public and academic bodies have
highlighted the fact that traveller families and households headed by a lone parent are at a greater
risk of poverty and social exclusion than are other categories of household. In North Tipperary,
7.8% of households are headed by a lone parent, compared with 8.6% in the Mid West Region as a
whole. As the following map shows, the highest proportions of lone parent families are to be found
in the main towns. They comprise 13.2% of households in Nenagh, 12.6% in Thurles, and 11.6% in
Roscrea. Among the villages with relatively high proportions of lone parents (ED-level figures) are
Borrisoleigh (12.2%), Cloughjordan (12.1%) and Borrisokeane (11.3%). As the map suggests,
these communities, as well as adjoining areas in the north of the County, such as Ballingarry and
Lorrha, Castletown and Newport in the west and Kilmore in the centre represent the areas that most
need to be targeted in the implementation of support programmes for lone parent families.
Rural parts of North Tipperary have an older age profile than the County and Mid-West Region,
and as the next map shows, the north west of the County (from Kilbarron to the boundary with
County Offaly) and the south of the County east of The Silvermines have the highest proportions of
older people living alone. Thus, these communities have a need for support services for older
people, including outreach / mobile services and social activities.
The 2006 census records that in North Tipperary, there are 6,307 persons – (9.6% of the population)
with a disability. Of these, 979 are under 25 years of age. Social inclusion and the promotion of
equality of access to the labour market are key issues for people with disabilities in Ireland. As the
map presented here illustrates, rural communities in the north of the County have the highest
proportions of persons with disabilities. Thus, access to support services is a pressing issue in these
peripheral areas, and outreach provision will be important in enabling people to realise their full
In North Tipperary, 5.2% of the adult population are carers, compared with 4.8% nationally, and as
the following graph shows, many carers dedicate at least 15 hours per week to their caring duties.
Fig. 4: Hours worked by Carers Each Week (North Tipperary and The State)
43 or more hours a week
29-42 hours a week
15-28 hours a week
1-14 hours a week
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70
N. Tipp The State % of Carers
The following map reveals some striking localised patterns in respect of caring; over a quarter of
the adult population in Inch and Ballycahill are carers. Thus, these neighbouring communities
represent the most suitable rural location for the development of support structures or networks for
those with caring duties. Local consultations suggest that many carers are interested in securing
formal qualifications; specific training courses ought to be made available to meet local need.
**18 / 19
Ethnicity and Nationality
According to the latest census returns, there are 446 Travellers in North Tipperary. These represent
0.7% of the total population, compared with 0.5% of the national population. As the map presented
here shows, Travellers have a greater presence in the east than in the west of the County, with the
highest numbers, being in Roscrea (n=145), Thurles (n=54) and Littleton (n=53). Travellers
account for 2.5% of the population of Roscrea and 4.7% of the population of Littleton. To date,
Roscrea 2000 has done considerable work in promoting the social inclusion of Travellers, and is
fostering good relations between the settled and traveller communities in the town. Nenagh
Community Network is similarly active in supporting community development work with
Over the past decade, North Tipperary has experienced considerable in-migration, mostly from
Poland and Lithuania. The most recent census returns note that there are 2,819 non-Irish nationals
in the County. The highest proportions of foreign nationals are in the main urban centres,
particularly Nenagh and Roscrea, as highlighted by the following map. In Nenagh West, non-Irish
nationals comprise 13% of the population, while in Roscrea they represent 9.6% of the population.
The Community Partnerships in both towns have made considerable strides in promoting inter-
culturalism and the integration of non-Irish nationals, and their work to date represents a solid base
on which to build further efforts to celebrate cultural diversity and integrate the new Irish.
The 2006 Census of Population was the first to record levels of volunteerism, and as such, its results
represent a baseline on which future efforts to promote civic participation and social capital can be
measured and appraised. The level of volunteerism in North Tipperary is slightly higher than the
national level, and this can be attributed in part to animation and capacity building actions promoted
by Tipperary LEADER and to the community development work done by Community Partnerships
over the past fifteen years. Nevertheless, almost 80% of people are not currently engaged in
voluntary activity, and additional investment in community development actions is required to
ensure that all citizens participate more fully in local development and participative democracy. As
this map shows, no clear spatial pattern emerges in respect of levels of volunteerism across the
county, although the community of Ballycahill – Inch has the highest level, with 24% of residents
being members of at least one voluntary body.
Housing and Transport
The issue of rural housing, and in particular urban-generated rural housing, has been the subject of
considerable public debate in Ireland over recent years. Organisations such as An Taisce have
expressed the view that local authorities need to increase restrictions on the building of single rural
dwellings. On the other hand, the Irish Rural Dwellers’ Association (IRDA) argues for a more
liberalised approach to planning and development, especially for those who have family-ties to rural
communities. Both perspectives are valid in the context of rural development. The arguments put
forward by An Taisce are consistent with the LEADER principle of protecting the rural
environment for the benefit of all, while the IRDA perspective can contribute to the realisation of A
Living Countryside, as expressed in the Salzburg Declaration (2003).
As the following diagram shows, the housing stock in North Tipperary is somewhat older than the
average for the State and the Mid-West Region.
Fig. 5: Housing Stock by Period Built in The State, Region and County
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
% of Dwellings
Pre 1941 1941 - 1980 1981 - 1996 Since 1996 Not Stated
Just over 28% of North Tipperary’s housing stock was constructed in the ten years since 1996.
However, as the following map shows, not all areas have been affected equally. New house
building has been most concentrated in Nenagh Town, Ballina and Environs, Newport and in the
environs of Thurles, while the village of Twomileborris has seen a 39% increase in the number of
houses in a ten-year period. The map clearly shows that urban-generated housing is mainly a
feature of the west and south west of the County, with many northern, central and eastern areas
experiencing very low levels of house-building. This map confirms trends identified in the earlier
sections on demography. It shows that significant steps will need to be taken over the coming years
to redress the very serious spatial imbalance that has been emerging in North Tipperary. It behoves
the local development sector, local government and statutory bodies to give effect to the principles
of the European Spatial Development Perspective by stimulating sustainable development in
lagging and peripheral areas, and to alleviate development pressures on areas that are subject to
urbanisation and agglomeration.
The local development sector has done very notable work over recent years in promoting rural
transport. The state-funded Rural Transport Programme operates in North Tipperary under the
aegis of the Community Partnerships. This localised approach to mainstreaming ensures that
services can be adapted and tailored to meet local needs. While the current programme is operating
well, the level of demand for rural transport is growing, and the expansion of services is essential
for rural development and for social inclusion. The most recent census returns reveal that 3,638
households (16%) in North Tipperary do not have a car. These are mostly concentrated in the urban
centres, but as the map below shows, there are a number of rural communities in which over 15% of
households lack a car. These include Latteragh, Dolla, Templederry, Foilnaman, Rathcabbin and
Data on the use of a car for travel to work / school shows that the highest levels of car-usage are in
the Limerick – Nenagh commuter belt in the southwest of the County, and in the environs of
Thurles and Templemore. In these areas over three-quarters of commuter journeys are by private
car5 (or motorbike), with the highest rates being in Birdhill, Carrigatogher, Burgesbeg, Kilnarath
and Monsea. These figures (as mapped below) point to the need for sustainable public / community
transport options for commuters. They also emphasise the need for more locally-based
employment, which would reduce the need to travel.
Of those who travel by car, 31% are passengers.
At present, 8.5% of commuter journeys are made by public transport, with the vast majority of these
being accounted for by school buses. As the relevant map illustrates, no clear spatial pattern can be
observed in respect of public transport use in North Tipperary, but the current high levels of
dependence on the car (in urban and rural locations across the county) raise serious questions
regarding environmental sustainability.
Successive Forfás reports have emphasised the importance of ICT connectivity in enabling the
development of the knowledge economy and the provision of higher valued-added jobs. At present,
51.8% of households in North Tipperary have a personal computer. This is below the national
average of 56.65%, and as the following map shows, the ICT deficit is greatest in respect of rural
areas in the north and centre of the County and the four main towns, where only between 40% and
44% of households have a PC.
A similar spatial pattern can be observed in the following map, which depicts connectivity to the
Internet. The highest rates of connectivity are in the west, notably in Ballina and in the environs of
Nenagh. The community of Moycrackey in the southeast of the County also has a relatively high
level of Internet connectivity at 55.9% of households. This compares favourably with the county
average of 40.7% and the regional average of 43.3%.
Typology of North Tipperary
The profile presented here shows that North Tipperary is a dynamic county, with considerable
development potential. It is experiencing population growth, and is well positioned to avail of
opportunities presented through the National Spatial Strategy and National Development Plan.
However, North Tipperary is challenged to diversify its economic base and to promote the
expansion of the knowledge economy and tertiary and quaternary sector activities. There is a need
for greater collaboration between the main towns in the County, and to redress the serious spatial
imbalances that have emerged over the past ten years. The analysis provided here clearly
demonstrates the need for approaches that are based on spatial differentiation and which take into
account the development needs and potential of all parts of North Tipperary. While localised
features exist, particularly at neighbourhood level within the main towns, in rural development
terms, a seven-dimensional spatial classification emerges. Seven areas can be loosely classified as:
Zone One: Nenagh and Environs
Zone Two: Peri-Urban Areas and areas within the N7 Corridor
Zone Three: The Lakeshore (Lough Derg)
Zone Four: Thurles – Templemore Axis
Zone Five: Borrisokeane / Cloughjordan and The South East
Zone Six: Southern and Central Uplands
Zone Seven: Peripheral North Tipperary
Zone One: Nenagh and Environs
Nenagh and its environs have experienced notable demographic expansion over the past five years,
and the range of retail facilities in the town has expanded considerably. The town is being
progressively absorbed into the Limerick commuter belt, and although it is officially the county-
town, its expansion does not appear to be driving and distributing growth in North Tipperary.
Indeed, the loss of manufacturing jobs in Nenagh, and the down-scaling of its hospital represent
significant blows to the town and to its ability to generate growth and development. Thus, there is
need to reorient Nenagh more towards fulfilling its role as a county-town, and to promote greater
collaboration and joint-planning with Roscrea, Templemore, Thurles and Borrisokeane.
Zone Two: Peri-Urban Areas and areas within the N7 Corridor
This part of North Tipperary is currently experiencing significant population growth and some
development pressures. Many communities are challenged to integrate newcomers, and local
services and infrastructure are having to expand rapidly to meet new demands. Yet, agriculture and
farm-related activities continue to play a significant role in the local economy, and the protection of
the natural environment will be important from a farming perspective. Newcomers need to be more
respectful towards and appreciative of the role of the farming community.
Zone Three: The Lakeshore (Lough Derg)
The eastern shore of Lough Derg represents one of the most scenic areas in Ireland. Areas like
Ballina are becoming increasingly popular with professionals working in Limerick and those who
desire to have a ‘second home’. Thus, while the growth in housing has brought welcome economic
benefits, there is a pressing need to promote a balance between building and the conservation of
natural amenities. Lough Derg is a delicate natural habitat and a strong tourism product, on which
many people rely for their livelihoods. There exists the potential to promote increased eco-tourism
activities on and around Lough Derg (and in North Tipperary’s boglands and uplands).
Zone Four: The Thurles – Templemore Axis.
The towns of Thurles and Templemore are significant urban centres in North Tipperary, although
the recent growth of Nenagh has tended to overshadow them. Thurles is an important market town
for an extensive rural hinterland across three counties, and its fortunes have relied on the economic
capacity of rural areas, and of the farming community in particular. While Thurles can continue to
serve as a commercial focal point, both it and Templemore need to focus much more closely on
promoting joint-approaches to economic diversification.
Zone Five: Borrisokeane – Cloughjordan and The Southeast.
Borrisokeane and Cloughjordan represent two of the smaller towns in the County, and as this
chapter has shown, they score highly on a number of deprivation indicators. Both towns have been
adversely affected by the decline in farming and the structural weakness of the rural economy.
There is a clear need for investment to stimulate greater economic development, rural
diversification and social inclusion in these towns and their hinterlands.
A similar observation can be made in respect of the villages of Littleton and Twomileborris in the
southeast of the County. While both are relatively strong in terms of their infrastructural
connectivity, they rate poorly on social indices.
Zone Six: Southern and Central Uplands
This part of North Tipperary has a relatively high dependence on agriculture, and needs to diversify
its economic base in order to redress demographic weaknesses. Social capital is strong and many
villages and rural communities have an infrastructure in terms of schools, post offices and other
public services, which have the capacity to cater for increased populations.
Zone Seven: Peripheral North Tipperary
The rural north and eastern periphery of the County are characterised by significant structural
weakness, characterised by falling populations, poor public service provision and a narrow
economic base. Thus, they require considerable developmental supports. The attainment of
balanced spatial development necessitates investment in their infrastructure and economic
development as a priority. Inter-agency and collaborative approaches are essential in enabling
communities in these parts of the County to overcome the legacy of neglect.
Proposed Rural Development Zones in North Tipperary
ZONE 5 ROSCREA
Puckaun ZONE 4
ZONE 3 Toomevara
ZONE 2 Templetouhy
ZONE 6 Z
Rearcross/ Reardnogy 4
5 0 5 10 e
15 Kilom ters