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Connacht ( or — — ), formerly Anglicised as Connaught, is the western province of Irelandmarker, comprising counties Galwaymarker, Leitrimmarker, Mayomarker, Roscommonmarker and Sligomarker. Its main urban centres are Galwaymarker in the south, and Sligomarker in the north. It is the smallest of the four Irish provinces, with a population of 503,083.

The name

In Irish the province is usually Cúige Chonnacht, meaning the province (literally, the fifth) belonging to the Connachta dynasty. Ireland had five provinces until the Norman Conquest, and the dynasty claimed descent from the mythical king Conn. An alternative anglicised spelling which was officially used during English and British rule is Connaught. In 1874 Queen Victoria granted the title Duke of Connaught to her third son, and could trace a descent from the Connachta.

Irish language

The Irish language is spoken in the Gaeltacht areas of Counties Mayo and Galway, the largest being in the west of County Galway covering Cois Fharraige (Irish meaning 'by the sea'), and parts of Connemara, and Dúithche Sheoigeach (Joyce Country).


Connacht is composed of five counties: Galwaymarker, Leitrimmarker, Mayomarker, Roscommonmarker and Sligomarker.The highest point of Connacht is Mweelreamarker (814 m), in Mayomarker. The largest island in Connacht is Achillmarker, also the largest island of Ireland. The biggest lake is Lough Corribmarker.

The largest urban area in Connacht is Galway citymarker with a population of 72,414 in the city proper. There is only one other city Sligomarker (pop. 40,402) (including suburbs). There are many large towns including Castlebarmarker (pop. 11,891) and Ballina (pop. 10,409).

Mythical history

In Irish mythology up to the early historic era, Connacht, then including County Claremarker, was known as Cóiced Ol nEchmacht. It is said that the tribe of the Fir Bolg ruled all of Ireland right before the Tuatha Dé Danann arrived. When the latter arrived in Ireland (which the Fir Bolg called Ériu) and demanded land, the Fir Bolg king refused. When the Fir Bolg were defeated, the Tuatha Dé Danann were so touched by the courage of their enemy that they would give them a quarter of Ireland. They chose Connaught.


A long established provincial kingdom, Connacht held the primacy of Ireland under Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair (often Anglicised Rory O'Connor) when the island was invaded by the Cambro-Normans of Henry II of England after 1167. Under the Treaty of Windsor he conceded half of the island to the Normans, and Connacht then became a tributary kingdom.

After earlier attempts, such as that in 1188 by John de Courcy, a Norman knight who had invaded Ulster in 1177, were repulsed , finally in 1225 it was invaded, divided and colonised by the Normans. The Hiberno-Norman De Burgh, or Burke dynasty established themselves as the dominant kinship group in the centuries after the conquest.

The remnant of the O'Conor family maintained the title of King of Connacht during the Middle Ages with kings inaugurated officially up until the late 17th century. The ruling O'Conor Don family have survived until the present day. The "Republic of Connaught" had a brief existence in 1798 with Frenchmarker military support.


Connacht–Ulster was one of Ireland's four regional constituencies for elections to the European Parliamentmarker until it was superseded in 2004 by the new constituency of North–West.

See also


  1. according to the Oxford English Dictionary
  2. The spelling Connaught reflects the former English practice — in Ireland, though not in Scotland — of representing the Gaelic voiceless velar fricative as gh (compare lough for loch), gh having been used in Middle English for the same sound. Although this sound later disappeared from standard English, the spelling of words like "thought" and "caught" remained unaltered -- and in a further Anglicisation the "new" English pronunciation of -aught was even applied in Britain to titles like that of the Duke of Connaught. In Ireland, however, the original pronunciation having remained intact, the Gaelic-style spelling Connacht is now used more often in English. It may have gained currency by mistranslation of the Irish name into English: in Irish, the form Cúige Chonnacht 'province of Connacht' is almost always used, and this may have led to people misunderstanding genitive case Connacht as the Gaelic version instead of nominative case Connachta.
  3. Genealogical link via the O'Neills of Tyrone

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