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Leinster ( — — ) is one of the Provinces of Ireland. It lies in the east of Ireland and comprises the counties of Carlowmarker, Dublinmarker, Kildaremarker, Kilkennymarker, Laoismarker, Longfordmarker, Louthmarker, Meathmarker, Offalymarker, Westmeathmarker, Wexfordmarker and Wicklowmarker. Leinster has the largest population of the four provinces of Ireland. The traditional flag of Leinster features a golden harp on a green background.


  • The only official city in Leinster is Dublinmarker, the capital of Irelandmarker. However, the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) has a total population of 1,661,185 (2006) with some of its larger urban areas comprising the towns of Tallaghtmarker & environs, Blanchardstownmarker, Clondalkinmarker and Lucanmarker. The city of Kilkennymarker (and environs) also has a sizeable population, but is not usually included as a city, despite holding that title for the past 400 years.

Large towns

In order of size:


According to the CSO regional income report, GDP for the province of Leinster in 2004 was estimated to be well over 75 billion Euro.

Name and early history

The Gaelic Kingdom of Leinster before 1171 was considerably smaller than today's province. The first part of the name Leinster derives from Laigin, the name of a major tribe that once inhabited the area. The latter part of the name derives either from the Irish tír or the Old Norse staðr, both of which translate as "land" or "territory".

The tribes of Leinster were united by Úgaine Mor (Hugony, the Great), who built the hill-fort of Ailinne Knochawlin, near Kilcullenmarker, County Kildaremarker. He is a likely, but uncertain candidate as the first historical king of Laigin (Leinster) in the 7th century BC. The kingdom of Laigin was re-founded circa 175/185 AD following a period of civil wars in Ireland by the legendary Cathair Mor.

Finn Mac Cool, or Fionn mac Cumhaill, was reputed to have built a stronghold at the Hill of Allenmarker, on the edge of the Bog of Almhainn, in what was then Leinster.

In the 4th and 5th centuries, after Magnus Maximus left Britainmarker with his legion, leaving a power vacuum, colonists from Laigin settled in North Walesmarker, specifically in Angleseymarker, Carnarvonshire and Denbighshire. In Walesmarker some of the Leinster-Irish colonists left their name on the Llŷn Peninsula, which derives its name from Laigin.

By the 8th century, Laigin had split into two dynasties:

Northern Leinster dynasty: Murchad mac Brain (d. 727), King of Uí Dúnlainge, and joint leader of the Laigin

Southern Leinster dynasty: Áed mac Colggen (d. 738), King of Uí Cheinnselaig, and joint leader of the Laigin

After the death of the last Kildare-based King of Laigin, Murchad Mac Dunlainge in 1042, the kingship of Leinster reverted to the Uí Cheinnselaig sept based in the south east (southern dynasty) which comprise the later Kings of Leinster.

Borders of Leinster

Today, made of twelve counties, it encompasses the old province of Mide (mostly now in modern-day County Meathmarker and County Westmeathmarker). Also in it are County Longfordmarker and the Annally and Lusmagh parishes of County Offalymarker, formerly of Connacht, and County Louthmarker, formerly of Ulster. The borders were redrawn by Cromwell for administration and military reasons. The last major boundary changes occurred with the formation of County Wicklowmarker (1603-1606), from lands in the north of Carlowmarker (which previously extended to the sea) and most of southern Dublinmarker.

Later minor changes dealt with "islands" of one county in another. By the late 18th century, Leinster looked as shown below.

The Leinster of today represents the extented "English Pale", counties controlled directly from Dublin, at the beginning of the seventheenth century. The other Provinces had their own regional Presidency systems, based on a Welsh model of administration, in theory if not in fact from the 1570s and 1580s up to the 1670s, and were considered separate entities. Gradually "Leinster" subsumed the term of "The Pale", as the difference between the old Pale area and the wider Province, now under English administration, grew less distinct.

Leinster, province of Ireland - detailed; Hogg, 1784

See also


  1. Kilkenny was declared a city on 11th of April 1609,


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