Measures of economic output captured by traditional national account metrics emphasise the importance of paid work over unpaid work which can lead to inefficient policy decision making. We utilise Irish census data to measure the economic value of informal care in Ireland. Our results reveal the considerable value of informal care in Ireland ranging between E2.1 and E5.5 billion, depending on valuation approach. They also show a gendered distribution of informal care activities and the consequences of transposing market-based gender compensation asymmetries directly onto non-market activity. We discuss evidence of best practice in long-term care policy across Europe, which involves a combination of income supports for informal carers and substantial investment in formal home care provision. We also discuss apparent incongruences in current Government policy, which appears to prioritise a formal residential care model over more community-based care models, contradicting previously stated policy objectives and best practice in Europe.