Ireland has fallen back into recession for the first time since 2009, revised official data showed on Thursday, as the bailed-out eurozone nation was rocked by sliding exports and consumer spending.
Gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 1.0 percent in the third quarter of 2012 and by 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter.
This contraction over the second half of 2012 meets the technical definition of a recession -- two quarters running of falling output -- according to figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
Economic activity continued to sink by 0.6 percent in the first quarter of this year, or January-March period, compared with output in the previous three months.
"Significant revisions to the previous quarters suggest that activity declined for three consecutive quarters, suggesting the economy is in recession," said Barclays analyst Blerina Uruci.
"The backward revisions have brought the performance of the Irish economy more in line with that of the euro area average since the second half of last year.
"This suggests the negative impact from the economic weakness in its main trading partner has been more significant than previously estimated and highlights the risks to growth if the export performance remains disappointing."
In the first three months of the year, personal expenditure by the Irish people sank by 3.0 percent -- marking the biggest fall for four years.
Capital investment tumbled 7.4 percent while net exports decreased by 1.021 billion euros over the same three-month period.
"The figures were significantly worse than expected," added analyst Diego Iscaro at research consultancy IHS Global Insight.
"The sharp contraction in domestic demand was certainly not surprising, but the strong fall in exports suggests that the weak external environment is having a greater impact on the economy than previously thought."
The CSO also said that the Irish economy grew by just 0.2 percent last year, which marked a sharp downgrade from the previous estimate of 0.9-percent expansion.
On a more upbeat note, the CSO added that gross national product -- a measure which strips out earnings of multinational companies -- grew by 2.9 percent in the first quarter.
Ireland was rescued by an 85-billion-euro ($111 billion) bailout from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union in late 2010.
Ireland, once known as the 'Celtic Tiger' economy for its double-digit growth spanning a decade from the mid-1990s, has seen its output contract sharply in recent years, hit by soaring government debt, a property market meltdown, the global banking crisis and surging unemployment.