Pilot survey asks people if they want a 'time capsule' in the 2021 Census

Galway residents asked to vote on the chance to include a message for future generations on census form

A census pilot survey being undertaken in County Galway is asking people if they would like a time capsule — in the form of a space to include a message for future generations — included in the 2021 Census form.

Census forms are sealed for a century under the '100 year rule' which governs the disclosure of historic data on living people, so these messages will first be seen by people researching their ancestors and/or Irish society in 2121.

The Central Statistics Office is currently asking selected Galway households to fill out a survey asking if they would use this space.

"As part of Census 2021, the CSO is considering using the space below to allow people to record a voluntary message of their choosing," the pilot survey form reads. "Under Sections 32, 33, and 34 of the Statistics Act 1993, there is a legal guarantee that this message would not be released for 100 years. After 100 years this message would be available to the public.

"Do you think you would use the time capsule in 2021?"

The Census Pilot Survey is currently almost at the end of the field campaign phase in Galway, and forms will be collected until October 23.

People in the 1,200 homes across the county taking part in the survey are being asked to ensure they fill out and return the forms — as with any survey, sample size is crucial to ensuring the results reflect the views of the wider population.

Householders still have time to fill out the form and return it to the enumerator. Forms can also be sent by FreePost to Central Statistics Office, PO Box 2016, Freepost 4726, Swords, Co Dublin.

For the CSO, the data provided on these forms is vital to help analyse the results of the new and updated questions. The more forms received, the more data to base decisions on, and therefore the better chance to make the 2021 Census produce statistics that will serve the public and policy makers best.

The census, which takes place every five years, helps to shape public policy and provides policy makers, communities, and the general public with the statistical information to put services in place to serve everyone.

Historical census forms, which are only available to the public after 100 years, allow family history researchers and other interested parties an insight into the lives of people who lived a century ago, providing details such as occupations of family members, and detailed information on the type of house they occupied.

The only complete census returns currently available to the public are from 1901 and 1911, along with fragments of earlier censuses. Much of the census data from the 19th century was destroyed in a fire in the Public Records Office during the Civil War in 1922. The available census records can be read at www.census.nationalarchives.ie

The Census pilot survey will inform the next census in 2021 to provide relevant and updated statistics, which in turn will provide the data for future services.

The Census pilot survey is a small scale ‘mini’ census taking place in seven counties — Galway, Cork, Dublin, Tipperary, Louth, Offaly, and Wicklow amounting to some 15,000 homes in total. This is the first pilot survey since 2009 and new questions on issues such as childcare, homeworking, renewable energy, smoking, smoke alarms, volunteering, and citizenship are among the topics being trialled.

The Galway townlands taking part in the survey are located near Athenry, in Claregalway, and in and surrounding Craughwell.

More information on this survey is available from censuspilot.ie or from the CSO on 1850 201 604.

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