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Provinces of Ireland: Map


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Provinces of Ireland

1. Leinster, 2. Munster, 3. Connacht, 4. Ulster
Area: 84,412 km²
Population (2006): 5,962,110

Irelandmarker has historically been divided into five provinces, the Irish-language word for this territorial division, cúige (literally: "fifth part"), indicates that there were once five — Meath (now incorporated into Leinster with parts going to Ulster) being the fifth.

The four provinces are:

Province Province in Irish Population (2006) Area (km²) Number of Counties Chief city
Leinster Cúige Laighean 2,292,939 19,774 12 Dublinmarker
Munster Cúige Mumhan 1,172,170 24,608 6 Corkmarker
Connacht Cúige Chonnacht 503,083 17,713 5 Galwaymarker
Ulster Cúige Uladh 1,993,918‡ 24,481 9 Belfastmarker
Note 1: "Number of Counties" is traditional counties, not administrative ones.
Note 2: Population for Ulster is the sum of the 2006 census results for counties of Ulster in Republic of Ireland and the 2006 estimated population for Northern Ireland.

Population for other provinces is all 2006 census results.

The origins of these provinces (loosely federated kingdoms with somewhat flexible boundaries) of which there were five in existence prior to the coming of the Normans can be traced to the overriding influence exerted in their respective territories by the great Irish dynastic families of O Neill (Ulster), O Melaghlin (Mide), O Brien (Munster), O Conor (Connacht) and MacMurrough-Kavanagh (Leinster). In the post-Norman period the historic provinces of Leinster and Meath gradually merged, mainly due to the impact of the Pale, which straddled both, thereby forming the present-day province of Leinster. In the Irish Annals these five ancient political divisions were invariably referred to as Cúigí, i.e ‘fifth parts’, such as the fifth of Munster, the fifth of Ulster and so on. Later record-makers, dubbed them ‘provinces’, in imitation of the Roman imperial provinciae.

In modern times they have become associated with groups of specific counties, although they have no legal status. They are today seen in a sporting context, as Ireland's four professional rugby teams play under the names of the provinces, and the Gaelic Athletic Association has separate Provincial councils and Provincial championships.

The provinces were supplanted by the present system of counties after the Norman occupation in the twelfth century.

Six of the nine Ulster counties form modern-day Northern Irelandmarker, which is part of the United Kingdommarker. Northern Ireland is often referred to as a province of the United Kingdom. These two inconsistent usages of the word "province" (along with the use of the term "Ulster" to describe Northern Ireland) can cause confusion.

Poetic description

This dinnseanchas poem named Ard Ruide (Ruide Headland) poetically describes the kingdoms of Ireland. Below is a translation from Old Irish:

Image:Flag of Connacht.svg|Flag of ConnachtImage:Flag of Ulster.svg|Flag of UlsterImage:Flag of Leinster.svg|Flag of LeinsterImage:Flag of Munster.svg|Flag of MunsterImage:Flag of Mide.png|Flag of Mide

See also


  1. World Gazetteer, Northern Ireland

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