Counties of Ireland

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There have been some changes to the regions. Fabien Antoine first put me on the trail of them.

The latest version of the FIPS standard is called "Geopolitical Entities and Codes", published in 2010-04. It shows Ireland divided into administrative counties rather than traditional ones, as listed in a supplementary table below. Update 16 to GEC is dated 2014-06-30. It assigns new codes to reflect the changes in local government.

Clive Carpenter informed me that there would be a change in Ireland's local government structure effective 2014-06. Limerick and Waterford cities merged with their administrative counties, and the administrative counties of North and South Tipperary merged. The secondary level consists mainly of municipal districts.

ISO 3166-2 Newsletter II-3 is dated 2011-12-15. It changes the code for Cork (formerly IE-C), to avoid duplicating the code for Connaught province.

ISO 3166-2 Newsletter number II-1, dated 2010-02-03, has changes to the listing for Ireland, but nothing that affects data reported on this site. The only change is adding the prefix IE- explicitly to each province code.

Change Notice 8 to FIPS PUB 10-4 is dated 2002-06-28. The only change under Ireland is that the Gaelic names of the counties were added as alternate names.

Country overview: 

Short nameIRELAND
ISO codeIE
LanguagesEnglish (en), Gaelic (ga)
Time zone0 ~


At the beginning of the 20th century, the whole island of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom. Irish patriots repeatedly argued and fought for independence. Finally, on 1921-12-06, the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed. By its terms, Ireland became an independent country with dominion status, although Northern Ireland was to be allowed to make a separate decision. The name of the new country was the Irish Free State (Gaelic: Saorstát Éireann). On 1922-12-12, six counties in the north voted to revert to the United Kingdom. On 1949-04-18, the Irish Free State broke off its remaining links with Britain under a new constitution, becoming the Irish Republic (Poblacht na hÉireann).

Other names of country: 

  1. Danish: Irland
  2. Dutch: Ierse Republiek, Ierland, Republiek Ierland (formal)
  3. English: Republic of Ireland (formal), Irish Free State (obsolete)
  4. Finnish: Irlanti
  5. French: Irlande f
  6. Gaelic: Éire (formal)
  7. German: Irland, Eire n, Irische Republik f, Republik f Irland n (formal)
  8. Icelandic: Írland
  9. Italian: Irlanda f
  10. Norwegian: Irland
  11. Portuguese: Irlanda f
  12. Russian: Ирландия
  13. Spanish: Irlanda, República f de Irlanda f (formal)
  14. Swedish: Irland
  15. Turkish: İrlanda

Origin of name: 

Éire + land. Éire is generally thought to be from Ériu, a pagan goddess.

Primary subdivisions: 

Ireland is divided into 26 (traditional) counties.

CavanIE.CNCNU76,18373,1831,891730An CabhánCavan
ClareIE.CECEM118,627117,1963,1881,231An ClárEnnis
DonegalIE.DLDLU158,755161,1374,8311,865Dún na nGallLifford
DublinIE.DNDL1,345,4021,273,069922356Baile Átha CliathDublin
KildareIE.KEKEL222,130210,3121,694654Cill DaraNaas
KilkennyIE.KKKKL99,11895,4192,062796Cill ChainnighKilkenny
LeitrimIE.LMLMC31,97231,7981,525589LiatroimCarrick on Shannon
LongfordIE.LDLDL40,81039,0001,044403An LongfortLongford
MayoIE.MOMOC130,425130,6385,3982,084Maigh EoCastlebar
MeathIE.MHMHL194,942184,1352,336902An MhíTrim
OffalyIE.OYOYL78,00376,6871,998771Uíbh FhailíTullamore
RoscommonIE.RNRNC64,43664,0652,463951Ros ComáinRoscommon
TipperaryIE.TYTAM160,441158,7544,2551,643Tiobraid ÁrannClonmel (S), Nenagh (N)
WaterfordIE.WDWDM116,401113,7951,838710Port LáirgeWaterford
WestmeathIE.WHWHL88,39686,1641,763681An IarmhíMullingar
WexfordIE.WXWXL149,605145,3202,351908Loch GarmanWexford
WicklowIE.WWWWL142,332136,6402,025782Cill MhantáinWicklow
26 counties4,757,9764,588,25268,89726,600
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
  • ISO: Codes from ISO 3166-2. Based on Ireland's Statutory County Codes, used on license
    plates, etc., with minor differences (e.g. TN and TS for Tipperary North and South).
  • Pr: Traditional provinces (see list below).
  • Pop-2016: 2016-04-24 census - Preliminary (source [8]).
  • Pop-2011: 2011-04-10 census (source [1]).
  • Gaelic: Name of county in Gaelic
  • Capital: See note


Note: Sources disagree about some capitals (county seats). The capital of Laois is Portlaoise. The same city is known as Maryborough, and has been known by both names throughout the 20th century. The name Maryborough was more common in English-language sources up to ~1955; after that, Portlaoise, or one of its variant spellings (Port Laoighis, Portlaoighise, etc.), was preferred. The sources seem to be divided on the capital of Meath: some say it's Trim (Baile Átha Troim), while others say Navan (An Uaimh). Nenagh is the capital of North Tipperary, and Clonmel, South Tipperary. Finally, most sources say that the capital of Waterford is Waterford, but a few of them say that it's Dungarvan. Here, Dungarvan is the capital of Waterford administrative county, while Waterford itself is an administratively separate city.

Further subdivisions:

Ireland has administrative counties, electoral counties, and what I will call traditional counties. Most administrative counties have the same name and extent as traditional counties. The exceptions are four traditional counties that each contain an administrative county and a city, all of the same name (Cork, Galway, Limerick, and Waterford); one traditional county that is divided into two administrative counties (Tipperary); and one traditional county that is divided into three administrative counties and a city (Dublin). The electoral counties are election districts, and correspond to one or two traditional counties or a portion of a traditional county. The cities were known as county boroughs until 2001.

In common with the ISO standard, I list the traditional counties. The FIPS standard listed traditional counties, also, but it was superseded in 2010 by the GEC standard, which lists administrative counties. With the Local Government Reform Act of 2014, some administrative counties were merged, and the GEC codes were changed to take account of this. This table summarizes the successive situations.

Dún Laoghaire-RathdownuEI34IE-DRDún Laoghaire-RathdownuEI34DublinEI07
South DublinuEI39IE-SDSouth DublinuEI39DublinEI07
TipperaryuEI43IE-TANorth TipperaryuEI38TipperaryEI26
South TipperaryuEI40TipperaryEI26
  • Post-2014: Divisions under the LGRA 2014.
  • Pre-2014: Admin. counties prior to the LGRA 2014.
  • Typ: u = county, i = city, c = city and county.
  • GEC: Codes from GEC.
  • GENC: Codes from GENC.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.


The provinces date back to about the beginning of the Christian era, when there were five of them (with Meath). They now have no administrative function. The separation of Northern Ireland divided Ulster into two parts: the larger (six counties at the time of the split) is all of Northern Ireland, and the smaller (three counties) is now two disjoint parts of the Irish Republic.

MMunsterAn Mhumhain1,246,08824,128
  • ISO: Province codes from ISO 3166-2.
  • Gaelic: Name of province in Gaelic
  • Population: 2011-04-10 census.


Eight regional authorities were established in 1994. Their functions were largely confined to studying and recommending. They were equivalent to level-3 NUTS areas (Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics, a Eurostat classification). The first four characters of their NUTS codes determined which level-2 NUTS area they belonged to: IE01 for Border, Midlands and Western; IE02 for Southern and Eastern.

BorderIE011Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan, Sligo
Mid-EastIE022Kildare, Meath, Wicklow
MidlandIE012Laois, Longford, Offaly, Westmeath
Mid-WestIE023Clare, Limerick, North Tipperary
South-EastIE024Carlow, Kilkenny, South Tipperary, Waterford, Wexford
South-WestIE025Cork, Kerry
WestIE013Galway, Mayo, Roscommon


On 1999-07-21 the level-2 NUTS areas became regions, each with a regional assembly. The eight regional authorities were abolished on 2014-06-01. Yet another change was made on 2015-01-01, replacing the two regions with three. The following table shows the composition of these three regions, each of which has its own assembly. Eastern & Midland region was formed by taking part of Border, Midlands and Western and part of Southern and Eastern, which seems logical. Comparing the new regions with the historic provinces, we find that Northern & Western is equivalent to Connaught and the portion of Ulster that remains in the Irish Republic. Southern is equivalent to Connacht plus three counties of Leinster. Eastern & Midland is the rest of Leinster.

Eastern & MidlandDublin, Kildare, Laois, Longford, Louth, Meath, Offaly, Westmeath, WicklowBallymun, Dublin
Northern & WesternCavan, Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Monaghan, Roscommon, SligoBallaghaderreen, Co. Roscommon
SouthernCarlow, Clare, Cork, Kerry, Kilkenny, Limerick, Tipperary, Waterford, WexfordWaterford

Territorial extent: 

All of the counties lie primarily on the main island, Ireland. Other islands occupied are listed for each county, roughly in order of decreasing size.

  1. Clare: Mutton, and islands in the Shannon Estuary, especially at the mouth of River Fergus
  2. Cork: Bear (Bere), Dursey, Great (in Cork Harbor), Clear, Sherkin, Whiddy, Long
  3. Donegal: Aran, Tory, Cruit, Inishbofin, Inishtrahull, Gola
  4. Dublin: Lambay, Dalkey, Irelands Eye, Shenicks
  5. Galway: the Aran Islands, of which the largest are Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer; Gorumna, Inishbofin, Lettermore, Inishshark, Lettermullan, Mweenish, Tawin, Omey, High, Croaghnakeela
  6. Kerry: Valentia (Valencia), the Blasket Islands (largest is Great Blasket), Carrig, Scariff, Beginish
  7. Mayo: Achill, Clare, Inishturk, Inishkea North and South, Caher
  8. Sligo: Inishmurray
  9. Wexford: Saltee Islands, Tuskar Rock

The UN LOCODE page  for Ireland lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.

Origins of names: 

  1. Carlow: Irish ceatharlach: quadruple lake
  2. Cavan: Irish an cabhán: hollow
  3. Clare: Irish an clár: plain
  4. Connaught: from ethnic name Connachta
  5. Cork: from Irish corcach: swamp
  6. Donegal: Irish Dun na nGall: fort of foreigners (probably Danes)
  7. Dublin: Irish dubh: black, linn: pool, referring to the Liffey estuary
  8. Galway: Irish gailimh: stony river
  9. Kerry: Irish ciarraí: people of Ciar
  10. Kildare: Irish cill: convent, dara: oak
  11. Kilkenny: Irish for church of Cainneach
  12. Laois: from ethnic name, tribe of Laeight
  13. Leinster: from ethnic name Laigin, Irish tir: territory
  14. Leitrim: Irish liatroim: gray ridge
  15. Limerick: Irish luimneach: barren land
  16. Longford: fortified place
  17. Louth: after River Lud
  18. Mayo: Irish maigh eo: plain of the yews
  19. Meath: Irish an mhí: the middle
  20. Monaghan: Irish muineachán: place of the shrubs
  21. Offaly: Irish uíbh Fhailí: Failghe's people
  22. Roscommon: Irish ros Comáin: grove of Comán
  23. Sligo: after River Shelly
  24. Tipperary: Irish tipper: spring or well, and Ara, the name of a river
  25. Ulster: from ethnic name Ulaidh, Irish tir: territory
  26. Waterford: inlet of water
  27. Westmeath: Irish an iarmhí: middle west

Change history: 

  1. 1898: Under the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898, Tipperary county split into Tipperary North Riding and Tipperary South Riding administrative counties. Cork, Dublin, Limerick, and Waterford county boroughs split from the administrative counties of the same names.
  2. 1920: Names of Kings and Queens counties changed to Offaly and Laois, respectively.
  3. 1985: Galway county borough split from Galway administrative county.
  4. 1993-11-01: Under the Maastricht Treaty, the European Union replaced the European Communities, of which Ireland was a member.
  5. 1994-01-01: Under the (Regional Authorities) (Establishment) Order, eight regions were established, as listed under "Further Subdivisions". At the same time, under the Local Government (Dublin) Act, 1993, Dublin administrative county split into Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown (capital Dún Laoghaire), Fingal (Swords), and South Dublin (Tallaght) administrative counties.
  6. 2001: Under the Local Government Act, 2001 (S.I. 591 of 2001), status of county boroughs changed to cities; status of municipal boroughs changed to boroughs; names of Tipperary North Riding and Tipperary South Riding changed to North Tipperary and South Tipperary, respectively.
  7. 2014-06-01: Under the Local Government Reform Act 2014, Limerick and Waterford cities merged with their administrative counties, and the administrative counties of North and South Tipperary merged.

Other names of subdivisions: 

  1. Donegal: Tyrconnel (obsolete)
  2. Dublin: Dublín (Spanish); Dublino (Italian); Dyflinni (Icelandic); Дублин (Russian)
  3. Laois: Laoighis, Leix (variant); Queens (obsolete)
  4. Offaly: Kings (obsolete)

Population history:



  1. [1] Population Classified by Area . Central Statistics Office, Dublin, 2012-04 (retrieved 2012-08-28).
  2. [2] "Population and Vital Statistics." Central Statistics Office Ireland (dead link, retrieved 2003-12-06 from
  3. [3] Europa World Year Book 2001. Europa Publications, London, 2001.
  4. [4] Census 86, Vol. 1. Stationery Office, Dublin.
  5. [5] Statistisches Jahrbuch 1992 für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Statistisches Bundesamt, Wiesbaden, 1992.
  6. [6] Fifth United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names. Vol. II. New York: United Nations, 1991.
  7. [7] Regional Assemblies . The Irish Regions Office (retrieved 2015-06-24).
  8. [8] 2016 Preliminary Census Results Central Statistics Office (retrieved 2017-03-31).
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