According to the 2011 Irish census, the number of people who use Irish in Ireland as their everyday language outside school is 82,600. Many more speak it, but only in school, or rarely, This compares with 119,526 people who speak Polish at home and 56,430 who speak French. The census also found that just 35% of people in the Gaeltacht areas use Irish on a daily basis outside the education system. These are areas where Irish is the main language, in theory.
Source: BBC News
According to the Irish Times:
… there was a 7.1 per cent increase in the number of people who said they could speak Irish from 2006, giving a total of 1.77 million people in the Republic who indicated they speak Irish. Of those, 77,185 people speak the language daily outside the education system; 110,642 say they speak it weekly, while 613,236 said they spoke it less often. One out of every four say they never speak the language.
The census returns give no indication of the proficiency of these Irish speakers – some might only speak a few words, while others are fluent. It’s interesting that a quarter of people who can speak Irish never do so. I wonder why.