Throughout the Republic of Ireland, there are 26 counties.
On the island of Ireland there are 32 counties in total, with 6 sitting within Northern Ireland.
What is a County?
Before listing all the counties in Ireland, we need to look at precisely what a county is. Ireland is divided into 4 provinces; similar to federal states in the United States in some ways.
Unlike in the US, there are no provincial governments to create laws. However, using this comparison can help with understanding the geographical and cultural differences throughout Ireland. Although the provinces don’t have any actual power, they have been formed through centuries and history, and each has its own proud traditions.
The provinces are divided further into counties. Unlike provinces, counties have limited administrative power, such as planning, services, development, and social housing. Each county also has a history and culture slightly different from any other in Ireland.
Below we will examine the counties in each of the four provinces (Leinster, Ulster, Munster, and Connaught) and provide one small fact about each. Within the counties, you will find towns, cities, and villages but let’s dig into an overview below.
How many Counties are in Ireland?
Located in the south-east of Ireland, Leinster is the most populated province in the country. Before 1171, it was its own kingdom, called the Gaelic Kingdom of Leinster.
- Carlow: An archeological hotspot with ancient artefacts such as the Brownshill Dolmen (an old tomb)
- Dublin: Dublin is home to the capital city with the same name, where the world-famous Guinness comes from.
- Kildare: Famous for horse racing.
- Kilkenny: Filled with mediaeval buildings and a famous castle.
- Laois: Laois has plenty of natural beauty and history to learn about.
- Longford: A primarily farming-based county that also has peaceful lakes.
- Louth: A waterfront county with the famous Carlingford Lough. They also have an ancient monastery to explore.
- Meath: The ” Brú na Bóinne” tombs are even older than the pyramids in Egypt.
- Offaly: It is filled with bog and peatlands, which can help farmers make their soil more fertile.
- Westmeath: An old county that has lots of ancient castles to explore.
- Wexford: A coastal county with golden beaches.
- Wicklow: Also known as the “Garden of Ireland” due to the mountains and beaches that make up its natural beauty.
Located in the North of Ireland, Ulster comprises some counties which are part of Northern Ireland and other counties of the Republic of Ireland.
The name comes from Ulaidh, an ancient tribe that used to live there.
In this section, if a county is written in italics, it’s in Northern Ireland, not the Republic of Ireland.
- Derry: One of the few walled cities left in Europe. Derry is most famous for the city of the same name.
- Antrim” The county is probably most famous for the Giant’s Causeway, which attracts people from all over the world, and Bushmills Whiskey.
- Down: Another county famed for its sandy beaches and the famous Mourne Mountains.
- Tyrone: A sports-centric county famous for its Gaelic team.
- Armagh: Famed as an orchard county.
- Fermanagh: Famous for its beautifully scenic waterways and lakelands.
- Cavan: As well as several lakes, Cavan is also home to Shannon Pot, the source of the river Shannon.
- Monaghan: If you saw Princess Kate of the British Royal Family on her wedding day, you have seen a famous county export in Monaghan lace.
- Donegal: A surfing hotspot famous for big skies and rugged landscapes.
Located in the south of Ireland, Munster was its own kingdom before the Normans invaded Ireland. In the 5th century, St Patrick came to Munster and founded some of Ireland’s first Christian churches.
- Clare: A county with a politically-steeped history. GAA founder Cusack and President de Valera both come from Clare.
- Cork: The rebel county and Ireland’s largest county.
- Kerry: Home to Ireland’s highest mountain, Carrantuohill, alongside Ireland’s most successful Gaelic team.
- Limerick: Irish coffee, the longest footbridge in Ireland, and JFK’s ancestors all originate from Limerick.
- Tipperary: Known for horse breeding, their most popular export is the Coolmore Stud.
- Waterford: Where the famous “Waterford Crystal,” comes from.
In the west of Ireland, Connacht is the rugged and wild of the four provinces.
The province has a long and exciting history of being made of several kingdoms, being a single kingdom, and eventually being part of modern day Republic of Ireland.
- Galway: Famous for Galway city, beautiful beaches and a growing foodie scene.
- Leitrim: Primarily famous for its natural splendour despite being one of the smallest counties in the country.
- Mayo: Probably best known for fanatical GAA support.
- Roscommon: A sheep farming hotspot. The Roscommon lamb festival happens every year.
- Sligo: One of the smaller counties found on the famous Wild Atlantic Way, known for beautiful beaches, scenery and food.