From Antrim to Wicklow, the counties of Ireland each have their own nickname—and here are all 32.
While Ireland is often associated with traditional music, pastoral settings, cosy pubs, and “the craic” (the local term for Irish humour), another component of its character is its use of slang and certain terminology.
Every country has its own little ways of putting things. These are colloquialisms that have been woven into the local dialect so long that it is second nature to natives.
An example of this would be the individual nicknames for the counties of Ireland. Here they are—all 32 of them!
1. Antrim – “The Glens County”
A glen is another word for a valley. The Glens of Antrim, or more commonly, the Glens, is a region in County Antrim known for its nine glens.
2. Armagh – “The Orchard County”
Did you know that Bramley apples originated from County Armagh? Now you do! No wonder why its nickname is “the orchard county.”
3. Carlow – “The Dolmen County”
You may have guessed it, but the reason Carlow is known as “the dolmen county” is due to the Brownshill Dolmen that resides there. It is also sometimes referred to as “the mount Leinster county.”
4. Cavan – “The Breifne (also Brefni) County”
Cavan’s nickname references the ancient Breifne clan who once ruled the area.
5. Clare – “The Banner County”
County Clare has the age-old nickname of “the banner county.” This could be referring to multiple banner incidents during the county’s history, but one thing we can all agree on is that this is its nickname.
6. Cork – “The Rebel County”
In 1491, a pretender to the English throne, Perkin Warbeck, arrived in Cork City, claiming to be the Duke of York. Although the Earl of Kildare fought his efforts, many people stood behind Warbeck. It is through this that Cork came to be considered, to the English throne, as “the rebel county.”
7. Derry – “The Oak Grove” or “Oak Leaf County”
This has a simple back story: Derry in the Irish language means oak.
8. Donegal – “The Forgotten County” (also “The County of the Gaels”)
In the far reaches of the Northwest border lies Donegal, or what is referred to by many as “the forgotten county.”
9. Down – “Mourne Country” or “Kingdom of Mourne”
The majestic Mourne Mountains are located in County Down, thus inspiring its nickname. Also, interestingly, County Down is one of the few counties of Ireland to adopt the term “country” or “kingdom of.”
10. Dublin – “The Pale” (also “The Smoke” or “The Metropolitan County”)
The Pale was an area once controlled by the English, which surrounded Dublin, thus leading to its most common nickname.
11. Fermanagh – “The Lakeland County”
As you may have guessed, there are a lot of pretty lakes and waterways here.
12. Galway – “The Hooker County”
In this instance, the word hooker is referring to a local type of boat.
13. Kerry – “The Kingdom County”
This nickname goes back centuries, and there’s no exact reason why.
14. Kildare – “The Short Grass County” (also “The Thoroughbred County”)
As you may have guessed, a lot of horseracing goes on in these parts.
15. Kilkenny – “The Marble County” (also “The Ormond County”)
This nickname comes from the “marble” from which much of the old city is built, which—fun fact—actually isn’t marble, but rather carboniferous limestone. However, “The Marble County” sounds a lot better than “The Carboniferous Limestone County”!
16. Laois – “O’Moore County” (also “Queen’s County”)
The common nickname is in fact “Queen’s Country,” but this is not too popular with the locals these days, so let’s just go with “O’Moore County.”
17. Leitrim – “Wild Rose County”
The reason behind this nickname is pretty obvious: there are a lot of wild roses in Leitrim.
18. Limerick – “The Treaty County”
Limerick earned its native nickname with reference to the Treaty of Limerick in 1691, ending the Williamite War in Ireland.
19. Longford – “The County of the Slashers”
This nickname refers to Myles “the Slasher” O’Reilly, an Irish fighter killed defending his local territory, in 1644.
20. Louth – “The Wee County”
As you can probably guess, Louth is Ireland’s smallest county.
21. Mayo – “Maritime County”
Sitting along the Atlantic Coastline with tonnes of emphasis on water activities, it is plain to see how Mayo earned its nickname.
22. Meath – “The Royal County”
This name refers back to ancient days when high kings held power in the County of Meath.
23. Monaghan – “The Drumlin County” (also “The Lake County”)
Monaghan earned its title as “the drumlin county” due to its unique rolling landscape of little hills, ridges, and valleys.
24. Offaly – “The Faithful County”
Offaly is also sometimes called “The Middle County” due to its location in the middle of Ireland.
25. Roscommon – “Mutton Chop County”
In Roscommon, they farm a lot of sheep, hence the name.
26. Sligo – “Yeats Country”
This is another county that is referred to as a “country.” It is also where W. B. Yeats wrote prolifically.
27. Tipperary – “The Premier County”
An exact source for this nickname is unknown, but it’s a good one regardless.
28. Tyrone – “O’Neill Country”
Again the use of “country” is seen, and the name is in reference to the ancient O’Neill clan who ruled the area.
29. Waterford – “The Crystal County”
Waterford Crystal spawned from this county in the 18th-century. Enough said!
30. Westmeath – “The Lake County”
Again, we have a reference to the many lakes of a county.
31. Wexford – “The Model County”
This term is actually referring to early traditional farming methods!
32. Wicklow – “The Garden County” (also “The Garden of Ireland”)
Imagine the prettiest garden you’ve ever seen: that’s Wicklow.