COUNTIES OF IRELAND: A-Z overview of the 32

If you are looking for an A-Z overview of Ireland’s 32 counties, then read on as our counties of Ireland listed article is for you.

There are 32 counties and four provinces in Ireland, all with distinct landscapes and unique qualities that make them worth visiting.

There is much to see and do in the 32 counties of Ireland. From cities to rolling countryside, coastal resorts, and more.

What the title of county means in Ireland has changed over time. Between 1898 and 2001, if an had a county council, it was known as an administrative county. From 2001, the designation of administrative county was divided between counties and cities.

Today, across Ireland, the word county tends to refer to the 32 modern counties across the island. Modern counties across Ireland have slightly different designations in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Across the Republic, a county council is responsible for much local administration. In contrast, administration in the North takes place by districts.

In our counties of Ireland article, we provide an overview of each county with some facts about their main towns and the best things to do in them.

Ireland Before You Die’s top tips about the 32 counties of Ireland

  • Ireland is traditionally divided into 32 counties, each with its own history and identity. When Britain partitioned Ireland, 6 counties were left in the North, 26 in the South. 
  • Ireland is then divided into four provinces: Leinster, Munster, Connacht and Ulster. 
  • The GAA in Ireland uses Ireland’s counties as a structure for organising Gaelic games throughout the country. There are county teams, and club championships based on counties. 
  • Each county in Ireland has a county town, which tends to be the administrative centre. For example, Cork city is the county town of Cork. 
  • Each county will also have its own flag, crests and colours. For example, Antrim’s associated colours would be yellow and white. Cork, Derry and Tyrone are red.

1. Antrim – the Glens county

Antrim is one of the counties of Ireland listed.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Overview: County Antrim is part of Northern Ireland and Ulster, with a population of approximately 618,000 people.

Interesting fact: People of Antrim hold the common nickname of ‘The Glensman’ due to Antrim’s famous glens.

Main town: Belfast.

Things to do: Giant’s Causeway, Titanic Belfast, and the 13th century Dunluce Castle.

READ MORE: Top 10 best things to do in Antrim, N. Ireland (County Guide)

2. Armagh – the orchard county

Overview: Armagh is part of Northern Ireland and Ulster with a population of approximately 174,792.

Interesting fact: Armagh is known as the ‘Orchard County’ due to its abundance of orchards.

Main town: Armagh town.

READ: 48 hours in Armagh: The perfect weekend itinerary for Armagh

Things to do: St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Navan Centre & Fort, and Gosford Forest Park.

3. Carlow – the dolmen county

Overview: Carlow is in the south-east of Ireland and is part of the province of Leinster. It has a population of approximately 24,272.

Interesting fact: Hollywood actress Saoirse Ronan was raised in Carlow.

Main town: Carlow Town.

Things to do: Delta Sensory Gardens, Huntington Castle, and County Carlow Military Museum.

4. Cavan – the Breifne (also Brefni) county

Cavan is home to the Burren.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Overview: Cavan is part of the province of Ulster, located on the border region with a population of approximately 76,176.

Interesting fact: With 365 lakes, Cavan has the age-old nickname of the lake county.

Main town: Cavan town.

Things to do: Cavan Burren Park, Cavan County Museum, and Cavan Adventure Centre.

5. Clare – the banner county

Overview: Clare is in the mid-west region in the province of Munster. It has a population of approximately 118,817 and is known as the Banner County.

Interesting fact: John Philip Holland, the inventor of the submarine, was from Clare.

Main town: Ennis.

Things to do: Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty Castle, and the Burren.

READ: 10 best things to do in Clare, Ireland

6. Cork – the rebel county

Cork is one of the counties of Ireland listed.

Overview: Cork is located in southern Ireland in Munster. It has a population of approximately 210,000.

Interesting fact: Cork is the second-largest city in Ireland and has the common nickname of the Rebel County.

Main town: Cork City.

Things to do: Blarney Stone, Spike Island, and Fota Wildlife Park.

7. Derry – the oak grove or oak leaf county

Overview: Derry is part of Northern Ireland and Ulster with a population of approximately 83,652.

Interesting fact: Derry is the second-largest city in Northern Ireland.

Main town: Derry city.

Things to do: The 17th century City Walls, Free Derry Corner, and the Peace Bridge.

MORE: Top 10 things to do in Derry, Ireland

8. Donegal – the forgotten county (also the county of the Gaels)

Donegal is the forgotten county.
Credit: Martin Fleming for Failte Ireland

Overview: Donegal is in the province of Ulster and located in the north of Ireland with a population of approximately 159,192.

Interesting fact: Due to its location, Donegal is often nicknamed Ireland’s forgotten county.

Main town: Letterkenny.

Things to do: Glenveagh National Park, Malin Head, and Donegal Castle.

READ MORE: Top 10 BEST things to do in Donegal, Ireland (2023 guide)

9. Down – Mourne country or kingdom of Mourne

Overview: Down is part of Northern Ireland and Ulster, with a population of approximately 531,665.

Interesting fact: County Down contains both the southernmost point of Northern Ireland and the easternmost point of Ireland.

Main town: Bangor.

Things to do: Mourne Mountains, Tollymore Forest Park, and Bangor Castle Walled Garden.

10. Dublin – the Pale (also the smoke or the metropolitan county)

Dublin is one of the counties of Ireland listed.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Overview: Dublin City is the capital city of Ireland and is located in the province of Leinster with a population of approximately 1,904,806.

Interesting fact: County Dublin is home to the largest city in Ireland and it was abolished as an administrative county in 1994.

Main town: Dublin City.

Things to do: Guinness Storehouse, Dublin Zoo, and Phoenix Park.

SEE AND DO so much more with our DUBLIN BUCKET LIST: 25+ BEST things to do in Dublin

11. Fermanagh – the lakeland county

Overview: Fermanagh is part of Northern Ireland and is located in the province of Ulster with a population of approximately 61,805.

Interesting fact: Fermanagh is famous for its lakes, particularly Lough Erne, and its waterways.

Main town: Enniskillen.

Things to do: Marble Arch Caves, Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail, and Florence Court. 

12. Galway – the hooker county

Galway is nicknamed the hooker county.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Overview: Galway is located in the west of Ireland in the province of Connacht and has a population of approximately 79,934.

Interesting fact: Of all the modern counties of Ireland listed, Galway has the largest Gaeltacht area (where the Irish language is spoken) in Ireland. Galway is nicknamed the ‘Hooker County’, after the type of boat from the local area.

Main town: Galway city.

Things to do: Connemara, Galway Cathedral, and Lynch’s Castle.

13. Kerry – the kingdom county

Overview: Kerry is located in southern Ireland along the Wild Atlantic Way. It is part of Munster, with a population of approximately 147,707.

Interesting fact: Valentia Island in Kerry is home to the world’s oldest footprints. 

Main town: Tralee.

Things to do: Killarney National Park, Ring of Kerry, and Skellig Michael.

READ: The 10 BEST TOWNS in Kerry for a BREAK in 2024

14. Kildare – the short grass county (also the thoroughbred county)

Overview: Kildare is located near Dublin and is part of the province of Leinster, with a population of approximately 8,634.

Interesting fact: Kildare is the eighth largest of Leinster’s twelve Irish counties in size and second-largest in terms of population.

Main town: Newbridge.

Things to do: The Kildare Maze, Kildare Village, and Wallaby Woods Donadea.

15. Kilkenny – the marble county (also the ormond county)

Kilkenny is one of the counties of Ireland listed.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Overview: Kilkenny is located in the south-east region and is part of Leinster, with a population of approximately 26,512.

Interesting fact: Kilkenny is known as the Marble City because of its distinctive black marble.

Main town: Kilkenny.

Things to do: Kilkenny Castle, Smithwick’s Experience, and Medieval Mile Museum.

16. Laois – O’Moore county (also queen’s county)

Overview: Laois is located in the midlands region and is part of Leinster, with a population of approximately 84,697.

Interesting fact: Between 1556 and 1920, Laois was officially known as Queen’s County in honour of Queen Mary.

Main town: Portlaoise.

Things to do: Rock of Dunamase, Donaghmore Famine Workhouse Museum, and Emo Court.

17. Leitrim – wild rose county

Leitrim is nicknames the wild rose county.
Credit: @cyclokglobal / Twitter

Overview: Leitrim is part of the border region and is in the province of Connacht with a population of approximately 32,044.

Interesting fact: Leitrim is the smallest of Connacht’s five counties.

Main town: Carrick-On-Shannon.

Things to do: Glencar Waterfall, Parkes Castle, and Eagle’s Rock.

18. Limerick – the treaty county

Overview: Limerick is located in the mid-west region and is part of the province of Munster. It has a population of approximately 94,192.

Interesting fact: Limerick was founded by the Vikings in 812 AD. It is perhaps best known as the home of King John’s Castle.

Main town: Limerick.

Things to do: King John’s Castle, Terra Nova Fairy Garden, and Lough Gur Visitor Centre.

READ MORE: The 10 best things to do in Limerick, Ireland (County Guide)

19. Longford – the county of the slashers

Longford is one of the counties of Ireland listed.
Credit: Fáilte Ireland

Overview: Longford is located in the country’s midlands in the province of Leinster. It has a population of approximately 10,008 people.

Interesting fact: Of all the counties of Ireland listed, Longford is the fourth-smallest county in Ireland.

Main town: Longford.

Things to do: Quaker Island, The Mall, and St Mel’s Cathedral.

20. Louth – the wee county

Overview: County Louth is in the mid-east region and is part of Leinster, with a population of approximately 128,884.

Interesting fact: County Louth is the smallest county in Ireland.

Main town: Dundalk.

Things to do: Mellifont Abbey, Castle Roche, and the Leprechaun and Fairy Underground Cavern.

21. Mayo – maritime county

Mayo is home to Croagh Patrick.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Overview: Mayo, Ireland is located in the West, in the province of Connacht. It has a population of approximately 130,507.

Interesting fact: The term “boycott” originated in Co. Mayo.

Main town: Castlebar.

Things to do: Croagh Patrick, Great Western Greenway, and Céide Fields.

22. Meath – the royal county

Overview: Meath is in the mid-east region of Ireland in the province of Leinster, with a population of approximately 195,044.

Interesting fact: Meath is the only county in Leinster with two Gaeltachts (Irish speaking regions).

Main town: Navan.

Things to do: Newgrange, Hill of Tara, and Tayto Park.

23. Monaghan – the drumlin county (also the lake county)

Monaghan is one of the counties of Ireland listed
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Overview: Monaghan is located in the border region and is part of Ulster. It has a population of approximately 61,386.

Interesting fact: Monaghan is famed for its ancient Irish craft of lace-making and it is known as the drumlin county.

Main town: Monaghan.

Things to do: Monaghan County Museum, Lough Muckno Leisure Park, and Coral Leisure Monaghan.

READ: The 10 best things to do in Monaghan, Ireland (County Guide)

24. Offaly – the faithful county

Overview: Offaly is part of the Midlands region and is located in Leinster with a population of approximately 77,961.

Interesting fact: Offaly is the largest county by area and the third-largest by population in the Midlands region.

Main town: Tullamore.

Things to do: Leap Castle, Tullamore Dew, and Clonmacnoise.

25. Roscommon – mutton chop county

Roscommon is known as the mutton chop county.

Overview: Roscommon is in the western region of Ireland and is part of the province of Connacht, with a population of approximately 64,544.

Interesting fact: Roscommon borders every other Connacht county and even three Leinster counties.

Main town: Roscommon.

Things to do: King House, Boyle Abbey, and Lough Key Forest and Activity Park.

26. Sligo – Yeats country

Overview: Sligo is a coastal county within the western province of Connacht with a population of approximately 63,000.

Interesting fact: Sligo is a popular surf destination.

Main town: Sligo.

Things to do: Benbulben, Knocknarea, and Lissadell House.

27. Tipperary – the premier county

One of the counties of Ireland listed is Tipperary.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

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Overview: County Tipperary is located in the province of Munster and has a population of approximately 159,553.

Interesting fact: County Tipperary is the largest landlocked county in Ireland.

Main town: Clonmel.

Things to do in County Tipperary: Rock of Cashel, Cahir Castle, and Hore Abbey.

MORE: The 10 best things to do in Tipperary, Ireland (County Guide)

28. Tyrone – O’Neill country

Overview: Tyrone is part of Northern Ireland and Ulster and has a population of approximately 177,986.

Interesting fact: Tyrone is the largest county in Northern Ireland.

Main town: Omagh.

Things to do: Ulster American Folk Park, Lissan House, and Argory.

29. Waterford – the crystal county

Waterford is known as the crystal county.
Credit: Fáilte Ireland

Overview: Waterford is in southern Ireland, along the Copper Coast. It is located in Munster with a population of 82,963.

Interesting fact: Of all the counties of Ireland listed, Waterford is home to the oldest city in Ireland.

Main town: Waterford City.

Things to do: Waterford Greenway, the Viking Triangle, and Waterford Crystal.

30. Westmeath – the lake county

Overview: Westmeath is part of the midlands region and part of Leinster, with a population of approximately 88,770.

Interesting fact: Westmeath was once an integral part of Meath as they formed the fifth province of Ireland.

Main town: Athlone.

Things to do: Glendeer Pet Farm, Derryglad Folk & Heritage Museum, and Baysports.

31. Wexford – the model county

Overview: Wexford lies in the south-east of Ireland and is part of Leinster with a population of approximately 149,722.

Interesting fact: Wexford is the largest of Leinster’s 12 Irish counties.

Main town: Wexford.

Things to do: Irish National Heritage Park, Tintern Abbey, and Johnstown Castle.

32. Wicklow – the garden county (also the Garden of Ireland)

Wicklow is one of the counties of Ireland listed.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Overview: Wicklow is located south of Dublin city and is part of Leinster with a population of approximately 142,425.

Interesting fact: Wicklow is commonly known as the Garden of Ireland.

Main town: Bray.

Things to do: Glendalough, Powerscourt Waterfall, and Sally Gap.

READ MORE: 10 BEST things to do in WICKLOW, Ireland

That concludes our list of all the counties of Ireland from A-Z. How many of the counties of Ireland listed here have you been to?

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Your questions answered about the counties of Ireland

Read our article on the counties of Ireland but still have some outstanding questions? Then you are in the right place! Here, we have put together the most frequently asked questions about this from our readers and online.

What are the 5 biggest counties in Ireland?

Ranked by area, the biggest county of Ireland is Cork. This is followed by Galway then Mayo. Donegal is fourth and Kerry is fifth. By population, the ranking is Dublin, Antrim, Cork, Down, then Galway.

What are the smallest counties in Ireland?

By area, Louth is the smallest county in Ireland, then Carlow, Dublin, Longford, then Monaghan. By population, Leitrim is the smallest, followed by Longford, Carlow, Fermanagh, then Monaghan.

What are the 4 districts of Ireland?

Ireland is split into four provinces: Connacht, Ulster, Munster, Leinster.

Find Your Dream Hotel in Ireland

On the hunt for the ultimate hotel for your Irish adventure? Explore a curated selection ranging from the charming heritage of boutique accommodations in Dublin's vibrant heart to the tranquil luxury of rural retreats and the captivating coastal vistas. Start your search below to find the perfect stay with our trusted hotel partner.



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