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Counties of Ireland

Ireland is often referred to as the 32 counties, with its two states, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, being nicknamed respectively the Six Counties and the 26 Counties. The counties were in fact a creation of British rule in Ireland and were first set up in the 19th century to provide a framework for local government. Subsequently adopted by sporting and cultural organisations such as the Gaelic Athletic Association, which organises its activities on county lines, today they attract strong loyalties, particularly in the sporting field.

Ironically, in strict local government terms the 32 counties no longer exist. Within the six-county Northern Ireland, a major re-organisation of local government in 1973 replaced the six large counties by 26 "single-tier" districts. In the Republic of Ireland, six of the original 26 counties have been subdivided for administrative purposes, producing a total of 34 "county-level" authorities. The cities of Cork, Galway, Limerick, and Waterford are administered separately from the counties bearing those names, while County Dublin has been divided into Dublin City, Dún Laoghaire - Rathdown, Fingal, and South Dublin. Tipperary, meanwhile, has long been administered as two counties: Tipperary North Riding and Tipperary South Riding.

Outside the field of local government, however, the "traditional" 32 counties remain in universal use as the basis of local identity and loyalties.

Below is a list of the original 32 counties, as created under British rule. (c) indicates a change in boundaries or counties subdivided to create new counties.

The Original 32 Counties

County Antrim - Ulster, Northern Ireland (c)
County Armagh - Ulster, Northern Ireland (c)
County Carlow - Leinster
County Cavan - Ulster
County Clare - Munster
County Cork - Munster (c) Cork City administered separately
County Derry - Ulster, Northern Ireland (c)
County Donegal - Ulster
County Down - Ulster, Northern Ireland (c)
County Dublin - Leinster (c) Dublin City administered separately; remainder now divided into Dún Laoghaire - Rathdown, Fingal, and South Dublin counties
County Fermanagh - Ulster, Northern Ireland (c)
County Galway - Connacht (c) Galway City administered separately
County Kerry - Munster
County Kildare - Leinster
County Kilkenny - Leinster
County Laois (previously Queen's County, and County Leix) - Leinster
County Leitrim - Connacht
County Limerick - Munster (c) Limerick City administered separately
County Longford - Leinster
County Louth - Leinster
County Mayo - Connacht
County Meath - Leinster
County Monaghan - Ulster
County Offaly (previously King's County) - Leinster
County Roscommon - Connacht
County Sligo - Connacht
County Tipperary - Munster (c) divided into Tipperary North Riding and Tipperary South Riding
County Tyrone - Ulster, Northern Ireland (c)
County Waterford - Munster (c) Waterford City administered separately
County Westmeath - Leinster
County Wexford - Leinster
County Wicklow - Leinster

See also Provinces of Ireland

See also Irish Vehicle Registration Plates, identifiable on a per-county basis.