Administrative division of Ireland

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Flags of the counties at Dublin Castle

Ireland was formerly made up of four provinces , resulting in 32 counties (counties) divided up. The provinces in the Republic of Ireland are no longer important for the administration of the state, but are present in the consciousness of the population and are still relevant, for example in sports. The counties still form the framework of the administrative structure. Six of the nine historic counties of Ulster belong to Northern Ireland and thus to the United Kingdom .

Creation of today's administrative division at county level

In 1629, Wicklow was the last of the historic counties to be established.

In 1838, County Tipperary was divided into the Ridings North Tipperary and South Tipperary as part of the establishment of jury courts .

The Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 established county councils as parliamentary structures in the individual counties . As a result, decision-making processes were shifted to the local level and shaped by elected representatives of the population. This was an important prerequisite for the emergence of the Irish Free State and Irish independence due to the ensuing development of a political class and the increasing importance of the councils as platforms for Irish independence. Under the Local Government (Ireland) Act , the boundaries of many counties have been modified slightly for administrative reasons. In addition to the existing counties , the large cities of Belfast , Cork , Dublin , Limerick , Londonderry and Waterford became independent county boroughs that were administratively roughly equal to the counties .

With the establishment of the Irish Free State by the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921, Ireland became independent as part of the Commonwealth ; the national territory comprised 26 (through the division of County Tipperary de facto 27) of the 32 Irish counties and the county boroughs of Cork, Dublin, Limerick and Waterford.

In 1994, the County Borough of Dublin and the Corporation of Dún Laoghaire , which was founded in 1930 and also administratively corresponds to a County Borough , were dissolved and the entire area was divided into the three newly formed Counties of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown , Fingal and South Dublin and the City of Dublin.

As part of an administrative reform in 2001, which was conducted with the aim of simplifying the local administrative structures, the responsibilities were at the level of County Councils focused, the remaining county boroughs (in addition to the four above-mentioned also in 1986 established County Borough Galway ) in Cities renamed and the associated City Councils are legally fully equivalent to the County Councils .

The most recent county-level administrative reform was made in the 2014 elections. In addition to various changes at the municipal level, it includes the reunification of North Tipperary and South Tipperary to form County Tipperary and the merger of the City Councils Waterford and Limerick with the county councils of the same name .

Current breakdown at county level

Ireland Administrative Counties.svg
  1. Fingal
  2. Dublin City
  3. Dún Laoghaire – Rathdown
  4. South Dublin
  5. Wicklow
  6. Wexford
  7. Carlow
  8. Kildare
  9. Meath
  10. Louth
  11. Monaghan
  12. Cavan
  13. Longford
  14. Westmeath
  15. Offaly
  16. Laois
  17. Kilkenny
  18. Waterford
  19. Cork (City)
  20. Cork (County)
  21. Kerry
  22. limerick
  23. Tipperary
  24. Clare
  25. Galway (County)
  26. Galway (City)
  27. Mayo
  28. Roscommon
  29. Sligo
  30. Leitrim
  31. Donegal
No. County or City Council Historic
in km²
Density (inh / km²) administrative
Designation of the head of
07th Carlow County Council Leinster 54,612 897.9 61 Carlow Cathaoirleach CW
02 Dublin City Council Leinster 527.612 117.61 4,486 Dublin Lord Mayor D.
03 Dún Laoghaire – Rathdown County Council Leinster 206.261 126.95 1,625 Dún Laoghaire Cathaoirleach D.
01 Fingal County Council Leinster 273.991 453.09 605 Swords Mayor D.
04th South Dublin County Council Leinster 265.205 223.01 1,189 Tallaght Mayor D.
08th Kildare County Council Leinster 210.312 1,694.2 124 Naas Mayor KE
17th Kilkenny County Council Leinster 95,419 2,071.69 46 Kilkenny Cathaoirleach KK
16 Laois County Council Leinster 80,559 1,719.46 47 Portlaoise Cathaoirleach LS
13 Longford County Council Leinster 39,000 1,091.25 36 Longford Mayor LD
10 Louth County Council Leinster 122,897 831.99 148 Dundalk Cathaoirleach LH
09 Meath County Council Leinster 184,135 2,334.54 79 Navan Cathaoirleach MH
15th Offaly County Council Leinster 76,687 1,989.81 39 Tullamore Cathaoirleach OY
14th Westmeath County Council Leinster 86.164 1,824.86 47 Mullingar Cathaoirleach WH
06th Wexford County Council Leinster 145.320 2,365.27 61 Wexford Chairman WX
05 Wicklow County Council Leinster 136,640 2,032.6 67 Wicklow Cathaoirleach WW
24 Clare County Council Muenster 117.196 3,442.32 34 Ennis Mayor CE
19th Cork City Council Muenster 119.230 39.61 3,010 Cork Lord Mayor C.
20th Cork County Council Muenster 399,802 7,467.97 54 Cork Mayor C.
21st Kerry County Council Muenster 145.502 4,734.65 31 Tralee Cathaoirleach KY
22nd Limerick City and County Council Muenster 191,809 2,760.02 69 limerick Cathaoirleach L.
23 Tipperary County Council Muenster 158,754 4,304.24 37 Nenagh Cathaoirleach T
18th Waterford City and County Council Muenster 113,795 1,858.71 61 Waterford Cathaoirleach W.
26th Galway City Council Connacht 75,529 50.57 1,494 Galway Mayor G
25th Galway County Council Connacht 175.124 6,099.95 20th Galway Mayor G
30th Leitrim County Council Connacht 31,798 1,588.85 20th Carrick-on-Shannon Cathaoirleach LM
27 Mayo County Council Connacht 130,638 5,588.31 23 Castlebar Cathaoirleach MO
28 Roscommon County Council Connacht 64,065 2,548.04 25th Roscommon Cathaoirleach RN
29 Sligo County Council Connacht 65,393 1,837.46 36 Sligo Cathaoirleach SO
12 Cavan County Council Ulster 73.183 1,931.88 38 Cavan Cathaoirleach CN
31 Donegal County Council Ulster 161.137 4,859.51 33 Lifford Mayor DL
11 Monaghan County Council Ulster 60,483 1,295.92 47 Monaghan Mayor MN

Historical structure

The provinces in the Republic of Ireland

The historical provinces of Ireland were called cóiced . The original meaning of this word is "fifth". The historical sources and Irish sagas name the cóiced Connacht , Leinster , Munster and Ulster ; in addition there is the "Central Province" of Meath . Some traditions come to the number five without Meath, by assuming a dichotomy from Munster. The classification in cóiced is attributed to the Firbolg by the Celtic mythology in Lebor Gabála Érenn ("Book of the Conquest of Ireland") .


The four historical provinces are:

region location flag Remarks
Cúige Chonnacht
Land of the descendants of Conn
IrelandConnacht.png Flag of Connacht.svg Connacht plays a major role in Irish mythology. It is the region where Medb and Ailill ruled on Rathcrogan (or Rath Cruachain ) and sought power in Ireland in the fight against Cú Chulainn . Connacht has always been the poorest and most deprived region of Ireland where living in has been seen as a punishment. " To hell or to Connacht ", " To hell or to Connacht " - this was the choice that remained for many Irish when Oliver Cromwell conquered Ireland. Connacht was also the province hardest hit by the Great Famine of 1845-1849.
Cúige Laighean
"fifth (of the tribe) of the Laigin"
IrelandLeinster.png Flag of Leinster.svg Leinster is a productive agricultural region. The province is a center of the peat industry. One of the most important lead and zinc mines in the world is located in Navan, County Meath . Tara was a spiritual center in the early days. Today Dublin is the main industrial center of the province.
Cúige Mumhan
Celtic goddess Muma
IrelandMunster.png Flag of Munster.svg Munster is the southernmost province of Ireland. The name of the province is derived from the Celtic goddess Muma. In earlier times the province was temporarily divided into three kingdoms: the kingdom of Ormond in the east, Desmond in the south and Thomond in the north. These kingdoms are symbolized by the three crowns in the provincial flag.
Cúige Uladh
IrelandUlster.png Flag of Ulster.svg Often, Ulster is mistakenly used as a synonym for Northern Ireland . Ulster plays an important role in the history of the Northern Ireland conflict ( Plantation of Ulster ). As a plantation (English "planting", "settlement") historical measures of England are referred to in Ireland, which had the settlement of Welsh or Scottish immigrants in Ireland as a goal. In the years 1603 to 1660, after the Irish defeat in the nine years' war, English and Scottish farmers (Protestant faith) were partly relocated and partly attracted by material means. This settlement laid the foundation for centuries of conflict between the different sections of the population.

In the Republic of Ireland the provinces still play a role in sport as sport is often organized on a regional basis in Ireland. The Ulster rugby team includes, for example, the Irish and Northern Irish parts of Ulster.

Historic counties

No. English
province location useful information
1 Dublin Contae Bhaile Átha Cliath Leinster IrelandDublin.png With effect from January 1, 1994 County Dublin was dissolved by law and the new Counties Fingal (seat: Swords), Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown (seat: Dún Laoghaire) and South Dublin (seat: Tallaght) as well as the now independent city of Dublin divided up. However, this reorganization has so far hardly been understood in the public consciousness (also in the media).
2 Wicklow Contae Chill Mhantáin Leinster IrelandWicklow.png The area has belonged to the Viking Kingdom of Dublin since the beginning of the 10th century and served as a retreat for the Irish from the Anglo-Norman conquerors in the 12th century because of its inaccessible mountainous landscape. So this county was founded in 1606 as the last in Ireland.
3 Wexford Contae Loch Garman Leinster IrelandWexford.png The name of the county comes from the capital of the same name, Wexford, which was founded by the Vikings and called Waesfjord (Old Norse for entry to the mudflats ).
4th Carlow Contae Cheatharlach Leinster IrelandCarlow.png Carlow consists mainly of flat land. In the southeast, on the border with Wexford, rise the Blackstairs Mountains with the 793 meter high Mount Leinster.
5 Kildare Contae Chill Dara Leinster IrelandKildare.png The river Boyne has its source in Kildare (Irish Cill Dara = Church of the Oak) . The Boyne was already known in ancient times. It is believed that in the 2nd century the Greek cartographer Ptolemy made a map of Ireland that also depicted the Boyne.
6th Meath Contae na Mí Leinster IrelandMeath.png The Irish name means "middle". The county is located in the Central Irish Plain and consists almost entirely of pastureland.
7th Louth Contae Lú Leinster IrelandLouth.png The name of the county refers to the small village Louth, or the Celtic god Lugh (Irish Lughbhadh). With its 832 square kilometers, Louth is the smallest of the historic Irish counties. Louth is a county particularly distinguished by myth and legend.
8th Monaghan Contae Mhuineacháin Ulster IrelandMonaghan.png To the north lies part of the Slieve Beagh in the county, a limestone plateau; in the middle there is a lowland, which is bordered in the south by a hill country. There are many lakes and moors here.
9 Cavan Contae to Chabháin Ulster IrelandCavan.png Cavan is one of three counties that are in the province of Ulster, not belonging to Northern Ireland. The area is part of the Irish Drumlin area and is covered with many moors and lakes.
10 Longford Contae to Longfoirt Leinster IrelandLongford.png Longford is on the Central Irish Plain and is bounded to the west by the River Shannon.
11 Westmeath Contae na hIarmhí Leinster IrelandWestmeath.png In the Middle Ages the area belonged to the Kingdom of Meath. In 1173 the area was conquered by the Anglo-Normans and, under the name of Lochsewdy, was first given to the Lacy and later to the Verdun as a fief. In 1316 the area was reunited with the rest of Meath and only separated as an independent county in 1543.
12 Offaly , formerly King's County Contae Uíbh Fhailí Leinster IrelandOffaly.png The county consists largely of a plain that is bounded to the west by the River Shannon . Only in the south do the Slieve Bloom Mountains rise . The Grand Canal that connects Dublin with Ballinasloe runs through the county .
13 Laois , formerly Queen's County and Leix Contae Laoise Leinster IrelandLaois.png Laois (pronounced Liesch) used to have the English name of "Leix". It belonged to the Leinster Kingdom in the Middle Ages. In 1171 the area was conquered by the Normans and fell to England in 1460. In 1556 the county was formed under the name "Queen's County" and the country was settled with English settlers.
14th Kilkenny Contae Chill Chainnigh Leinster IrelandKilkenny.png The county is characterized by a fertile basin, almost 90% of which is used for agriculture.
15th Waterford Contae Phort Láirge Muenster IrelandWaterford.png The county is bounded to the north by the River Suir and to the east by Waterford Harbor. The west is characterized by mountains and hills. The east is more of a flat country.
16 Cork Contae Chorcaí Muenster IrelandCork.png Cork is the largest county in Ireland. Cork's 400-mile-long coastline has plenty of clean beaches and sheer cliffs, making the county a very maritime area. The city of Cork is one of the most important ports in Ireland because it is the connection between Ireland and France (Roscoff, Le Havre) and the United Kingdom (Swansea).
17th Kerry Contae Chiarraí Muenster IrelandKerry.png The Irish name of Kerry is derived from Ciar. He was a son of Fergus, King of Ulster. According to legend, the descendants of Ciar settled in this part of Munster. Unofficially, Kerry is also known as The Kingdom. The most important offshore islands include the Blasket Islands, the Skelligs with the largest island, Skellig Michael, and Valentia Island. In Kerry is the Carrantuohill, Ireland's highest mountain at 1041 meters.
18th limerick Contae Luimnigh Muenster IrelandLimerick.png The Vikings founded the city of Limerick in 812 on an island in the Shannon which is now called Kings Island, from which they drove Brian Boru before the turn of the millennium. A limerick is a short, usually joking poem in five lines, with the rhyme scheme[aabba] and a (relatively) fixed syllable scheme that tells a story that usually ends with a punchline.
19th Tipperary Contae Thiobraid Árann Muenster IrelandTipperary.png The county has a lot of agriculture, mostly cattle and sheep. Silvermines has one of the largest lead-and-zinc mines in Europe. The military march " It's a Long Way to Tipperary " made this area world famous. It was one of the favorite songs of British soldiers during World War I.
20th Clare Contae to Chláir Muenster IrelandClare.png The name of the county is derived from the Irish word Clár (plank). In the 12th century there was a transition from planks over the river Fergus at the site of the present day Clarecastle. This river crossing was of great importance, so that the name for the area was derived from it. Clare is also known as Banner County, as the area was particularly popular with banners.
21st Galway Contae na Gaillimhe Connacht IrelandGalway.png Numerous regions of Galway, on the west coast in Connemara, are designated as Gaeltacht areas, where Irish is spoken increasingly. The county lies on the Atlantic Ocean between Killary Harbor, Ireland's only fjord, to the north and Galway Bay to the south.
22nd Mayo Contae Mhaigh Eo Connacht IrelandMayo.png The name is derived from a monastery that was founded in the 7th century by St. Colmán south of the village of Balla. A diocese developed from this monastery in the 12th century. The Irish name means something like plain of the yew trees.
23 Roscommon Contae Ros Comain Connacht IrelandRoscommon.png Roscommon is an inland county that lies between the Rivers Shannon to the east and Suck to the west. The county is rich in water and has many rivers, lakes and moors.
24 Sligo Contae Shligigh Connacht IrelandSligo.png Sligo (after its capital of the same name, Irish: Sligeach = the mussel-rich area / river) is one of the most sparsely populated counties in Ireland. The city of Sligo is surrounded by three bays from the sea and is guarded by two mountains on the land side - the Knocknarea, on which according to legend the tomb of Queen Maeve is located, and the table mountain Ben Bulben, at whose feet the poet William Butler Yeats is buried located (Yeats County).
25th Leitrim Contae Liatroma Connacht IrelandLeitrim.png The county was covered with extensive wooded areas until the 17th century, when cities such as Carrick-on-Shannon, Manorhamilton and Jamestown were established. Famine and economic hardship led to emigration, so that the population fell from 155,000 at the beginning of the 19th century to just under 29,000 today.
26th Donegal Contae Dhún na nGall Ulster IrelandDonegal.png Donegal (Irish mostly Tír Chonaill, "Land des Conal"); officially, however, Dún na nGall, or "Fortress of the Strangers", is the northernmost county of Ireland.
1 Fermanagh Contae Fhear Manach Ulster NorthernIrelandFermanagh.png The county extends around Lower Lough Erne, the town of Enniskillen and Upper Lough Erne. The Marble Arch Caves, a cave complex with underground rivers, waterfalls and impressive stalactites, are well worth seeing.
2 Tyrone Contae Thír Eoghain Ulster NorthernIrelandTyrone.png The Irish name means Tír Eoghain, "Eoghan's Land". The middle of the county consists of high and hill country.
3 Derry Contae Doire Ulster NorthernIrelandDerry.png Derry (according to the city council decision not confirmed by the Queen Derry City, previously City of Londonderry; Irish Doire Cholm Chille, "oak grove of (St.) Columcille", or mostly Doire for short, "oak grove") is the second largest city in Northern Ireland. The name Derry is used by residents of the Republic of Ireland or Catholic Northern Irish for political reasons. The city of the same name was renamed Derry again after the Catholic parties obtained a majority in the city council.
4th Antrim Contae Aontroma Ulster NorthernIrelandAntrim.png The north of the county has belonged to the Christian kingdom of Dalriada since the 5th century. The Irish part was separated from the Scottish part by the Normans in the 9th century and formed the Kingdom of Ulidia with what is now County Down. After the conquest by the Normans in the 12th century, this continued as the county of Ulster.
5 Down Contae to Dúin Ulster NorthernIrelandDown.png The county has a long history in which the construction of megalithic sites played a prominent role.
6th Armagh Contae Ard Mhacha Ulster NorthernIrelandArmagh.png The county has a long history in which the construction of megalithic sites played a prominent role. Later it belonged to the Kingdom of Ulster, from which the Kingdom of Oriel emerged in the 5th century. In the north is the most important apple-growing region in Ireland.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ "Census 2011, Preliminary results", Table 8. Central Statistics Office Ireland
  2. ^ Bernhard Maier : Lexicon of Celtic Religion and Culture (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 466). Kröner, Stuttgart 1994, ISBN 3-520-46601-5 .