Counties in Ireland from Mayo to Sligo



Counties in Ireland
page 3: Mayo - Sligo


Below are brief details of the counties in Ireland that begin with the letters M to S: from Mayo to Sligo.

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 and beautiful Atlantic coastline. As a result of its topography it is known as both the Heather County and the Maritime County.


Upright piano at CountryLife Museum, Castlebar, Co Mayo. © Frank Bach.

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.

In Irish, Mayo 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 and beautiful Atlantic coastline. As a result of its topography it is known as both the Heather County and the Maritime County.

Upright piano at CountryLife Museum, Castlebar, Co Mayo. © Frank Bach.

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.

In the 2016 census, Mayo's population was 130,507 (down from 192,183 in 1911), of which 27% were aged under 25 and 89% were of Irish nationality. Just under 44% reported they could speak Irish.




Meath

In Irish, the county is called , 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.

Trim Castle sits on the River Boyne. It is the largest Norman Castle in Ireland.

It was also the scene of one of Ireland's most fateful battles - the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. Near that fateful bend in the river is the 5,000 year old Brú na Bóinne archaeological complex, a UNESCO Heritage Site, which includes two of Ireland's most spectacular Neolithic monuments: the huge, accessible passage tombs of Newgrange and Knowth.

Today, the county is home to many Dublin commuters and its principal towns are Navan (the County Town), Trim and Kells. Its population in 2016 was 194,942, very nearly three times its size in 1901.

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.

Trim Castle sits on the River Boyne. It is the largest Norman Castle in Ireland.

It was also the scene of one of Ireland's most fateful battles: the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. Nearby, is the 5,000 year old Brú na Bóinne archaeological complex, a UNESCO Heritage Site, which includes two of Ireland's most spectacular Neolithic monuments: the huge, accessible passage tombs of Newgrange and Knowth.

Today, the county is home to many Dublin commuters and its principal towns are Navan (the County Town), Trim and Kells. Its population in 2016 was 194,942, very nearly three times its size in 1901.

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.

Children's clothes, worn by inmates of Carrickmacross Workhouse, which is now open to the public.

It is one of the three counties of Ulster province to remain within the Republic of Ireland and has a border with Northern Ireland.

The County Town of Monaghan developed in the 18th century thanks to Irish linen industry. Its prosperity is still apparent in the town's rich legacy of Regency style buildings. Other sizeable towns in Monaghan are Carrickmacross, home to a restored Workhouse and Famine Museum (open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm,  all year; weekends by appointment), Castleblayney and Clones.

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.


Children's clothes, worn by inmates of Carrickmacross Workhouse, which is now open to the public.

It is one of the three counties of Ulster province to remain within the Republic of Ireland and has a border with Northern Ireland.

The County Town of Monaghan developed in the 18th century, largely due to the Irish linen industry, and its prosperity is still apparent in the town's rich legacy of Regency style buildings. Other sizeable towns in Monaghan are Carrickmacross, home to a restored Workhouse and Famine Museum (open 9-5 Monday to Friday,  all year; weekends by appointment), Castleblayney and Clones.

According to 1890 records, the most common surnames in Co. Monaghan include Duffy, Connolly, McMahon, McKenna, Hughes, and Murphy.

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.

A visitor hide at the Lough Boora wildlife reserve.

Most of the county is flat and bogland. Despite its generally unexceptional landscape - an exception can be found at the Lough Boora Nature Reserve, run by the Irish Wildlife Trust - Offaly is home to 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.

The 2016 Census found that Offaly has the highest proportion (88.6%) of Roman Catholics in all the counties in Ireland.


A visitor hide at the Lough Boora wildlife reserve.

Most of the county is flat and bogland. Despite its generally unexceptional landscape - an exception can be found at the Lough Boora Nature Reserve, run by the Irish Wildlife Trust - Offaly is home to 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.

The 2016 Census found that Offaly has the highest proportion (88.6%) of Roman Catholics in all the counties in Ireland.




Roscommon

Known in Irish as Ros Comán, meaning Saint Coman's wood, landlocked Roscommon is located 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.

Boyle Abbey is a Cistercian Monastery founded in the 12th century.

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

In the 2016 census, some 86% of people living in Roscommon identified as Roman Catholic, and 88% said they were Irish. The total population was 64,436, roughly a quarter of what it was in 1841.


Boyle Abbey was founded in the 12th century.

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.

In the 2016 census, some 86% of people living in Roscommon identified as Roman Catholic, and 88% said they were Irish. The total population was 64,436, roughly a quarter of what it was in 1841.




Sligo

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

It's landscape is dramatic, from the striking Belbulben rock formation, to the surfing hot spots along the Wild Atlantic Way coast. The County Town, also called Sligo, had a population of 19,199 in 2016, making it the largest town in the province. It also has many connections with Ireland's greatest poet, W B Yeats. The only other town of any size in the county 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.

In 2011, the population of County Sligo was 65,393,


It's landscape is dramatic, from the striking Belbulben rock formation, to the surfing hot spots along the Wild Atlantic Way coast. It's an outdoors kind of place.

The county town, also called Sligo, had a population of 19,199 in 2016, making it the largest town in the province. No wonder, then, it calls itself the capital of the northwest. Sligo also has many connections with Ireland's greatest poet, W B Yeats.

The only other town of any size in the county 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.

In 2011, the population of County Sligo was 65,393.




Tipperary

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 communities of significant size.

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

In Irish, the county is called Port Lairge, from the Viking name Vadrefiord. It is in Munster province and 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, County 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.




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.

View over pond of Powerscourt House and Gardens, Co Wicklow.Powerscourt House and Gardens, 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.