Counties of Ireland

From Academic Kids

The island of Ireland is often referred to as the 32 counties, with its two states, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, being nicknamed respectively the six counties and the twenty-six counties. The counties are subdivisions of the ancient Provinces of Ireland. While the provinces of which the counties are subdivisions have existed for centuries, the county subdivison of these provinces was first set up in the 19th century under British Rule to provide a framework for local government.

These counties were subsequently adopted by sporting and cultural organisations such as the Gaelic Athletic Association, which organises its activities on county lines, today they attract strong loyalties, particularly in the sporting field. The strict definition of what constitutes a county in Ireland has been slightly blurred by a growing association of some of the population to their respective administrative county, most prominently noticeable (due to historical influences) in the counties of North Tipperary, South Tipperary and in more recent times Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal and South Dublin. Currently the "traditional" 32 counties remain in use as the basis of local identity and sporting loyalties.



Map of Ireland with numbered counties Republic of Ireland
  1. Dublin
  2. Wicklow
  3. Wexford
  4. Carlow
  5. Kildare
  6. Meath
  7. Louth
  8. Monaghan
  9. Cavan
  10. Longford
  11. Westmeath
  12. Offaly
  13. Laois
  14. Kilkenny
  15. Waterford
  16. Cork

  1. Kerry
  2. Limerick
  3. Tipperary
  4. Clare
  5. Galway
  6. Mayo
  7. Roscommon
  8. Sligo
  9. Leitrim
  10. Donegal
Northern Ireland
  1. Fermanagh
  2. Tyrone
  3. Londonderry
  4. Antrim
  5. Down
  6. Armagh

Local government

The original pattern of 32 counties evolved over many years from the original Norman conquest of Ireland. The Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 was a significant milestone in the framing of the counties and their status. Some of the 32 counties are no longer recognised for local government, planning and community development purposes, although unlike the Counties of England, the Republic's original county boundaries essentially remain unaltered (counties on occasion being sub-divided).

In the Republic of Ireland, six of the original 26 counties have more than one local authority area, producing a total of 34 "county-level" authorities. County Tipperary has been split into North Tipperary and South Tipperary since 1898 and the formal adoption of the county system for local government. In 1994 County Dublin was split into Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal, and South Dublin. By 2002 however, upon the establishment of County Development Boards, the definition of "local government" expanded to include the need for a proper identity in each of the new counties; the development of which is ongoing. Of the administrative structures established under the 1898 Local Gevernment Act, the only type to have been completely abolished were the Rural districts, which were rendered void in the early years of the Irish Free State amidst widespread allegations of corruption.

In Northern Ireland, a major re-organisation of local government in 1973 replaced the six traditional counties and two county boroughs (Belfast and Londonderry) by 26 "single-tier" districts, which cross the traditional county boundaries. The six counties and two county-boroughs remain in use for purposes such as Lieutenancy.


Generally administration follows the 34 "county-level" counties and cities of Ireland. The counties are referred to as "county councils" and 29 fall into this category. The cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford have "city councils", previously as "corporations", and are administered separately from the counties bearing those names. The City of Kilkenny is the only city in the republic which does not have a "city council"; it is still a borough but not a county borough and is administered as part of County Kilkenny. The most recent local government legislation states that Kilkenny may retain the title of "city" for ornament only.


The Vocational Education Committee system is based on the traditional counties of the Republic of Ireland except that County Tipperary is separated into North Tipperary and South Tipperary. Also each of the cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford have their own committee separate from the county. Dún Laoghaire is unique in that it is the only town with a committee.

The Institute of Technology system was organised on the committee areas or "functional areas", these still remain legal but are not as important as originally envisioned as the institutes are now more national in character and are only really applied today when selecting governing councils, similarly Dublin Institute of Technology was originally a group of several colleges of the City of Dublin committee.


General election areas in the Republic of Ireland also mostly follow county boundaries - called "constituencies" in accordance with Irish law - maintaining links to the county system is a mandatory consideration in the re-organisation of constituency boundaries. This system usually results in more populated counties having several constituencies - while others, such as Sligo and Leitrim, constitute a single constituency of two counties - Dublin city and county is subdivded into twelve constituencies. Local councillors, elected to local government, are based on similar boundaries to the general election areas, however councillors generally run in a particular town council or borough council area which may often encompasses several smaller towns and villages.

Alphabetical list

County Former name Province State Additional local government
Antrim Ulster Northern Ireland
Armagh Ulster Northern Ireland
Carlow Leinster Republic of Ireland
Cavan Ulster Republic of Ireland
Clare Thomond Munster Republic of Ireland
Cork Munster Republic of Ireland City of Cork
Donegal Tyrconnel Ulster Republic of Ireland
Down Ulster Northern Ireland
Dublin Leinster Republic of Ireland City of Dublin,
Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown,
South Dublin
Fermanagh Ulster Northern Ireland
Galway Connacht Republic of Ireland City of Galway
Kerry Munster Republic of Ireland
Kildare Leinster Republic of Ireland
Kilkenny Leinster Republic of Ireland
Laois Queen's County, Leix Leinster Republic of Ireland
Letrim Connacht Republic of Ireland
Limerick Munster Republic of Ireland City of Limerick
Londonderry (see Coleraine) Ulster Northern Ireland
Longford Leinster Republic of Ireland
Louth Leinster Republic of Ireland
Mayo Connacht Republic of Ireland
Meath Leinster Republic of Ireland
Monaghan Ulster Republic of Ireland
Offaly King's County Leinster Republic of Ireland
Roscommon Connacht Republic of Ireland
Sligo Connacht Republic of Ireland
Tipperary Munster Republic of Ireland North Tipperary,
South Tipperary
Tyrone Ulster Northern Ireland
Waterford Munster Republic of Ireland City of Waterford
Westmeath Leinster Republic of Ireland
Wexford Leinster Republic of Ireland
Wicklow Leinster Republic of Ireland

Former counties

Former counties include: County Coleraine which formed the basis of County Londonderry, and Nether and Upper Tyrone which were merged at that time; County Desmond which was split between Counties Cork and Kerry; and the County of Caterlaugh occupying the southern part of what is now County Wicklow.

See also

External links

Representatives of local government

fr:Comtés d'Irlande it:Contee d'Irlanda nl:County's van Ierland no:Grevskap i Irland pt:Subdivisões da República da Irlanda ro:Comitatele Irlandei


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