Understanding Ireland's Counties and Regions
At first glance, Ireland's makeup might seem overly complicated; however, after perusing a map, taking in the suggestions outlined in this book, and ultimately getting your feet wet in country, you will begin to distinguish the smorgasbord that is Ireland.
Politically, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are two separate entities. The Republic was partitioned in 1921 with the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in London. This agreement came into full effect by royal decree the next year amidst the short-lived Irish Civil War.
Northern Ireland remains a part of the United Kingdom, which is also made up of England, Wales, and Scotland. The Republic of Ireland is always referred to as “Ireland” in conversation and sometimes in writing as “the Republic” (or ROI). In Gaelic, it is known as “éire.”
Jointly, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland have 32 counties; the Republic has 26, while Northern Ireland has six. Dublin is the capital of Ireland, while Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland. Nearly 4.5 million reside in Ireland and 2 million in Northern Ireland.
Provincially speaking, Ireland is composed of four Gaelic-derived, cardinal regions. Those are Leinster (the east), Munster (the south), Connaught (the west), and Ulster (the north).
The counties of Ireland and their respective regions are:
Leinster is made up of 12 counties including: Louth, Meath, Westmeath, Longford, Dublin, Kildare, Laois, Offaly, Carlow, Kilkenny, Wicklow, and Wexford.
Munster is constituted of six counties including: Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary, and Clare.
Connaught includes five counties: Leitrum, Roscommon, Galway, Mayo, and Sligo.
Ulster includes: Donegal, Monaghan, and Cavan in Ireland and all six counties in Northern Ireland, which are Derry, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Antrim, Armagh, and Down.