There was 14.4 babies born per 1,000 residents in the State last year, easily eclipsing the EU average of 10.1

In stark contrast, Ireland also recorded one of Europe’s lowest death rates at 6.4pc per 1,000 residents – some distance behind the EU average of 9.7pc.

The new figures, released by the EU’s statistical office Eurostat, now puts Ireland’s population at 4.6 million.

Given the nation’s birth and death rates, it means Ireland saw a natural change in population of +8.1pc in 2014.

Housing and childcare sectors are already struggling under the weight of young families, while at the other end of the scale the low death rate means the pensions bill is spiralling.

Experts warned that childcare in the country was not fit for purpose, given the nation’s growing young population.

Early Childhood Ireland CEO Teresa Heeney has said that while Ireland’s high birth rate is the “envy of our European neighbours”, she warned that the sector is facing a crisis.

Read the full article on The Irish Independent Website