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County Meath ( or simply an Mhí) is one of the traditional counties of Ireland and is located within the province of Leinster. It was named after the historic kingdom and province of Mide.

Meath is the 14th largest of Ireland’s 32 counties in area and 13th largest in terms of population. It is the second largest of Leinster’s 12 counties in size and third largest in terms of population.

The county town is Navanmarker, where the county hall and government are located, although Trimmarker, the former county town, has historical significance and remains a sitting place of the circuit court. County Meath also has the only two Gaeltacht areas in the province of Leinster, at Ráth Cairnmarker and Baile Ghib.

History

Meath (the "middle") was formed from the eastern part of the province of Midhe - see Kings of Mide - but now forms part of Leinster. Historically this province of Meath included all of the current county as well as all of Westmeathmarker and parts of Cavanmarker, Longfordmarker, Louthmarker, Offalymarker, Dublinmarker and Kildaremarker. The High King of Ireland sat at Taramarker in Meath. The archaeological complex of Brú na Bóinnemarker is 5,000 years old and includes the burial sites of Newgrangemarker, Knowthmarker and Dowth, in the northeast of the county. It is a UNESCOmarker designated World Heritage Site.

Places of interest

  • The Hill of Taramarker, an ancient historical site.
  • Castles at Trim, Slane (private), Dunsany (limited opening), Killeen (being converted to a hotel).
  • Religious ruins at Trim (two), Bective, Slane (two), Dunsany, Skryne (Skreen).
  • 2500-year-old mound structures of disputed origin at Telltown.
  • Brú na Bóinnemarker Unesco World Heritage Site.
  • Loughcrewmarker, an ancient historical site.
The Boyne
Trim contains Ireland's largest Norman castle and was the setting for many Norman-Irish parliaments. Meath is also home to Kellsmarker, with its round tower and monastic past.

Geography



Towns and villages

Towns



Villages



Demographics

The population in Co. Meath has been characterised since 1861 as a period of significant decline in population between 1861 and 1901 when the population was almost halved (110,373 to 67,497), stabilisation from 1901 to 1971 (67,497 to 71,729), a substantial increase between 1971 and 1981 to 95,419. This increase was mainly due to a baby-boom locally. The population continued to increase at a constant rate, before increasing at an explosive rate between 1996 and 2002, from 109,732 to 134,005. This is due primarily to economic factors, with the return of residents to live in the county, and also an echo effect of the 70s baby boom. The census of 2006 gives a statistic of 162,831 to include a dramatic increase in inward migration in the county, much of it from neighbouring Dublin, and Drogheda.

This population growth has seen divergent trends emerge in recent years, with mild depopulation in the north and west of the county being more than offset by large increases in the population of the eastern and south eastern part of the county, principally due to inward migration to districts which have good proximity via road, to the business parks on the Western outskirts of Dublinmarker. The section of the county that is south of the Boyne is considered part of the "Greater Dublin Area". The accession of Polandmarker and Lithuaniamarker to the European Union in 2004, has resulted in a significant influx of workers from these countries to work in low wage sectors including agriculture, quarrying, construction and catering. As a result of this rapid demographic change a voluntary non-governmental organisation, Cultúr - Celebrating Diversity was established by volunteers in 2003 to work in the areas of cultural integration and anti-racism.

Evolution of the population in Co.
Meath from 1861 to 2002.


Politics

Fianna Fáil has held three seats out of five in the Meath constituency since 1987. Fine Gael has won the other two seats at each in four of the five general elections in that period, with the exception of 1992, when it lost a seat to Labour (which was regained in 1997). Due to the increase in the county's population Meath now holds six seats in the Dáil, and has been divided into two constituencies: Meath East and Meath West (which incorporates some parts of County Westmeathmarker).

Currently (August 2007) the six Dáil deputies (TD's) for the Meath constitency are:

McEntee won a by-election in 2005 caused by the resignation of the former Taoiseach, John Bruton (Fine Gael) on his appointment as the European Union Ambassador to the USAmarker.

Fianna Fáil controlled Meath County Council from 1985 until 1991 and again from 1999 to 2004. The current composition of Meath County Council (elected 2004) is as follows:

Infrastructure

Road

  • The M1 motorway Dublin - Belfast road.
  • The M2 motorway bypasses the second largest town in the County, Ashbourne.
  • The main road through Meath is the Dublin-Cavan road, the N3 currently being upgraded to mainly motorway standard from the county's south east border at Clonee to the north west border shared with Cavan.
  • The M4 motorway, which is partly in County Kildaremarker and partly in Meath.


Rail

  • There is a frequent commuter train service to the coastal villages of East Meath, serving Laytown.
  • Navan is currently served by a spur railway line from the Dublin-Belfast main line, for freight traffic (zinc and lead concentrates from Tara Mines in Navan to Dublin Port) connecting at Droghedamarker. The direct rail line to Dublin directly remains abandoned, though its path is reasonably intact, and plans are drawn up to reopen it as inline with current government transport policy.
  • There is a commuter train service from Enfield. Although the service is very infrequent (Only 8 trains a day to dublin with no direct trains from 4 pm - 9 pm), not many villages like that of Enfield, have a commuter service at all.


Economy

  • Good land, with a strong farming tradition has been prominent historically for cattle, dairying, potatoes and grain. Recently production volumes have decreased due to competition for labour from other sectors of the economy. Migrant labour from Eastern Europe has helped however. Meath is Ireland's leading county producer of potatoes, and a significant producer of beef, barley, milk, wheat, and root vegetables.
  • Quarrying and Mining. Europe's largest underground lead-zinc mine, Tara Mines, has operated since 1977, at a location to the west of Navan. Current ore production from the mine is 2,600,000 tonnes of ore per year, containing over 200,000 tonnes of zinc metal. Glacial deposits of gravel exist in a band stretching from the Offaly border at Edenderry, to the sea at Laytown. This is the basis of a long running quarrying tradition. A large cement plant near Duleekmarker is situated in this territory.
  • An increasing proportion of Meath residents commute into Dublinmarker, with a resulting shift to a services based economy in the developing dormitory towns.
  • Meat processing in Clonee, and Navan.
  • Historically Navan was a manufacturing town, involved in the household goods sector. Navan was the centre of the Irish Furniture industry. Gradually this has declined as a source of employment, though it has acted as a source of inspiration for other ventures producing finished products for the construction industry.
  • Navan was the centre of the Irish Carpet making industry, before this was lost to overseas competition.
  • Horse breeding and training
  • Localized tourism in Trim, Kells, Tara and the Boyne Valley.
  • In common with other counties with thriving agricultural and traditional local industrial sectors, like Westmeath, Wexford, Kilkenny and Monaghan, Meath has few multinational investment facilities. Drogheda, Blanchardstown, Swords, and Leixlip are neighbouring towns that provide employment in this regard, however.


See also



References

External links




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