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Counties in Ireland

Page 3: Mayo - Wicklow


Counties in Ireland from Mayo to Wicklow



Below are brief details of the Irish counties that begin with the letters E to L, that is from Fermanagh to Louth.

The nicknames given are principally used in relation to sport, especially those sports under the auspices of the Gaelic Athletic Association, but many of them are also used in daily speech outside of any sporting context.



Mayo

In Irish, the county is called Maigh Eo, meaning the Plain of Yews. It is in Connaught province, is the third largest of the counties in Ireland, and is a wild mountainous region with a long Atlantic coastline. As a result of its topography it is known as both the Heather County and the Maritime County.

Because it suffered so dreadfully during the Great Hunger, the phrase "Mayo! God help us!" became a fixture and is still used, albeit usually in an ironic context these days.

Its county town is Castlebar but its largest town is Ballina. The only other town of any size is Westport.

According to 1890 records, the most common surnames associated with County Mayo include Walsh, Gallagher, Kelly, Malley, Moran, Duffy, McHale, Gibbons, Joyce, Connor, Conway, Higgins and Murphy.

Griffith's Valuation was carried out in 1856-7.


Meath

In Irish, the county is called Mí, a simple word for an uncomplicated meaning of Middle (province). It is in Leinster province and is known as the Royal County because the Hill of Tara, home of the legendary High Kings of Ireland, is within its boundaries.

Meath was the scene of one of Ireland's most fateful battles: the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. Today it is home to many Dublin commuters and its principal towns are Navan, Trim and Kells.

According to 1890 records, the most common surnames associated with County Meath include Reilly, Smith, Lynch, Brady, Farrell, Farrelly and Kelly.

Richard Griffith carried out his Valuation survey in Meath in 1855.


Monaghan

In Irish, the county is called Muineacháin, meaning a Place of little hills. The name is a perfect description for this sparsely populated region and has earned Monaghan the nickname of Drumlin County. It is one of the three counties of Ulster province to remain within the Republic of Ireland.

The county town of Monaghan developed in the 18th century thanks to the Irish linen industry and its prosperity is still apparent in the town's rich legacy of Regency style buildings.

According to 1890 records, the most common surnames associated with County Monagahn include Duffy, Connolly, McMahon, McKenna, Hughes, Murphy and McCabe.

Griffith's Valuation was carried out in 1858-60.


Offaly

In Irish, the county is called Ua Fáilghe, meaning the Descendants of the Tribe of Failghe. It is in Leinster province and used to be known as King's County. Today's unofficial nickname is the Faithful County, since the word appears on its crest of arms.

Hornbeam cloister at Birr Castle
Hornbeam Cloister in the Millenium Gardens of Birr Castle

Most of the county is flat and bogland. Despite its unexceptional landscape it has one of Ireland's most important Christian sites, Clonmacnois, and what many believe to be the country's most perfect Georgian town: Birr. Offaly's main town is Tullamore.

According to 1890 records, the most common surnames associated with County Offaly include Kelly, Dunne, Daly, Egan, Molloy, Mooney and Carroll.

The county was surveyed for Griffith's Valuation in 1854.


Roscommon

In Irish, the county is called Ros Comán, meaning Saint Coman's wood. It is in the Irish province of Connaught. Locals are called Rossies or (light-heartedlly) as Sheep Stealers, a term which refers to the common crimes committed by many of those transported to Australia.

Two medieval ruins are all that remain of a colossal 13th century castle and an Abbey in the county town of Roscommon but the busiest visitor attraction in the county is Strokestown Park House and its Irish Famine Museum. Other towns include Boyle and Castlerea.

According to 1890 records, the most common surnames associated with County Roscommon include Kelly, McDermott, Beirne, Regan, Flanagan, Connor, McDonagh, Quinn, Murray, Brennan and Higgins.

Griffith's Valuation was carried out in 1857-8.


Sligo

In Irish, the county is called Sligeach, meaning Shelly river. It is in the province of Connaught and contains the largeest concentration of megalithic monuments on the island, including Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery, one of Europe's most important prehistoric sites.

The county town of Sligo has many connections with Ireland's greatest poets, W B Yeats. Its only other town of any size is Tobercurry.

According to 1890 records, the most common surnames associated with County Sligo include Brennan, McLoughlin, Gallagher, Kelly, Harte, McGowan, Walsh and Kennedy.

Griffith's Valuation was carried out in 1858.


Tipperary

The Rock of Cashel
The Rock of Cashel dominates the Tipperary landscape

In Irish, the county is called Tiobraid Arainn, meaning the Well of Ara. It is in Munster province and, for administrative purposes is split into North and South Ridings. This is because it is the largest of the counties in Ireland's interior. It is also famous for having the highest count of cattle. With 624,388 beasts (2006), it has four times more cattle than people – the highest ratio of any of the counties in Ireland.

Its principal towns are Carrick on Suir, Clonmel (the county town), Cahir and Tipperary itself. The latter is an important and traditional dairy farming town. Also within this county is the Rock of Cashel, said to have been created by the Devil.

According to 1890 records, the most common surnames associated with County Tipperary include Ryan, Maher, O'Brien, Kennedy, Dwyer, Hogan, Hayes, Gleeson, McGrath, Walsh, Kelly and Lonergan.

Tipperary was one of the first counties in Ireland to be surveyed for Griffith's Valuation, in 1850-51.


Tyrone

In Irish, the county is called Tír Eoghain, meaning the Territory of Eoghan. It has the lowest population of the Ulster province counties within Northern Ireland (UK) and is primarily a farming region. It is known as O'Neill County in referrence to the medieval family who once controlled the area.

Tyrone has fabulous hill and forest scenery and is home to the Ulster American Folk Park which celebrates the strong links between Ulster and North America. Its county capital is Omagh but Strabane and Cookstown are also reasonable size communities.

According to 1890 records, the most common surnames associated with County Tyrone include Quinn, Mullan, Kelly, Donnelly, Gallagher, McKenna, Campbell and Hughes.

Griffith's Valuation was carried out in 1851.


Waterford

Waterford Crystal Visitor Centre
Emblem of Waterford Crystal in flowers

In Irish, the county is called Port Lairge, from the Viking name Vadrefiord. It is in Munster province and is is one of the sunny coastal counties in Ireland's south. As such, it is a popular destination for holidays in Ireland.

It's a prosperous place with wonderfully varied scenery and its name is famously linked with the crystal glass made in the county town. It is even referred to as the Crystal County. An alternative moniker is the Decies County due to its historical links with the Celt tribe of that name.

In 1831, co. Waterford had a population of 176,898 (87 people per km2) and that density was repeated in 2002. According to 1890 records, the most common surnames associated with County Waterford include Power, Walsh, O'Brien, Murphy, Ryan, McGrath, Foley, Flynn, Morrissey and Kelly.

Waterford was surveyed by Richard Griffith for his Valuation in 1848-51, making it the second county to be valued after Dublin.


Westmeath

In Irish, the county is called Iarmhí, meaning Western middle province. At its heart is the Hill of Uisneach which was believed to mark the spot where the ancient Irish provinces converged. Westmeath is now in Leinster province.

Its main settlements are the former garrison town of Mullingar and the strategically important Athlone which straddles the River Shannon just before it flows into Lough Ree. An uninhabited island in the Lough is said to be the geographical centre of Ireland.

According to 1890 records, the most common surnames associated with County Westmeath include Lynch, Farrell, Reilly, Daly, Murray and Duffy.

Griffith's Valuation was carried out in 1854.


Wexford

In Irish, the county is called Loch Garman, but the Viking name of the district was Weis fiord, meaning harbour of the mudflats. That may not sound too inviting, but Wexford is the island's most south-easterly county and it has some gloriously sandy beaches. This makes it a popular destination for an Irish holiday, especially for families with young children.

In land area, it is the largest of the counties in Ireland's Leinster province but it is not densely populated. In 2002, population density was 50 persons per square kilometre. Some 160 years earlier, in 1831, that figure was 86 persons/km2.

Because it is sunnier and drier than all other counties in Ireland, its inhabitants are nicknamed the Strawberry Pickers. An alternative, and possibly more common, nickname is Yellowbellies. The county is also known as the Model County due to its progressive farming methods and model farms. Enniscorthy, New Ross and Wexford are its main centres.

According to 1890 records, the most common surnames associated with County Wexford include Murphy, Doyle, Walsh, Bryne, Cullen, Kavanagh, Brien, Roche, Kelly, Nolan, Redmond and Connor.

The county was surveyed for Griffith's Valuation in 1853.
Powerscourt House and Gardens, Wicklow
Powerscourt House and lily pond


Wicklow

In Irish, the county is called Cill Mhantáin, from the Viking name Viking Gelo. It is in Leinster province and is famous for the Wicklow Mountains and the hauntingly beautiful Glendalough.

Because goats roam the mountain areas, people from Wicklow are known as Goat Suckers. Rather more pleasantly, the county itself is referred to as the Garden of Ireland.

It was the last of the counties in Ireland to be 'shired', in 1606. Its main towns are Wicklow, Arklow and Bray.

According to 1890 records, the most common surnames associated with County Wicklow include Byrne, Doyle, Murphy, Kelly, Kavanagh, Nolan, Brien, Kehoe, Lawlor, Toole and Dunne.

Griffith's Valuation was carried out in 1852-3.


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