County Cork

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County Cork

Contae Chorcaí
Cork county arms.png
Coat of arms
The Rebel County
Island of Ireland location map Cork.svg
Country Ireland
Province Munster
Dáil Éireann Cork East
Cork North-Central
Cork North-West
Cork South-Central
Cork South-West
EU Parliament South
Established1606 [1]
County town Cork
  Type County Council
(incl. city) [2]
  Total7,500 km2 (2,900 sq mi)
Area rank 1st
Highest elevation706 m (2,316 ft)
 (2016) [3] [4]
  Rank 3rd
  Density72/km2 (190/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Corkonian
Time zone UTC±0 (WET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+1 (IST)
Eircode routing keys
P12, P14, P17, P24, P25, P31, P32, P36, P43, P47, P51, P56, P61, P67, P72, P75, P81, P85, T12, T23, T34, T45, T56 (primarily)
Telephone area codes 02x, 063 (primarily)
Vehicle index
mark code
Pulleen Strand, on the Beara peninsula Pulleen Strand - - 457493.jpg
Pulleen Strand, on the Beara peninsula

County Cork (Irish : Contae Chorcaí) is a county in Ireland. It is the largest and southernmost county of Ireland, situated in the province of Munster and named after the city of Cork, Ireland's second-largest city. The Cork County Council is the local authority for the county. Its largest market towns are Mallow, Macroom, Midleton, and Skibbereen. In 2016, the county's population was 542,868, making it the third-most populous county in Ireland. [3] [4] Notable Corkonians include Michael Collins, Jack Lynch, and Sonia O'Sullivan.


Cork borders four other counties: Kerry to the west, Limerick to the north, Tipperary to the north-east and Waterford to the east. The county contains a section of the Golden Vale pastureland that stretches from Kanturk in the north to Allihies in the south. The south-west region, including West Cork, is one of Ireland's main tourist destinations, [5] known for its rugged coast and megalithic monuments and as the starting point for the Wild Atlantic Way.

The county is known as the "Rebel county", a name given to them by King Henry VII of England for its support of a man claiming to be Richard, Duke of York in a futile attempt at a rebellion. [6] The main third-level educator is University College Cork, founded in 1845, and with a current undergraduate population around 15,000. Significant local industry and employers include technology company Dell EMC, the European headquarters of Apple, and Dairygold, which own milk-processing factories in Mitchelstown and Mallow.

Political subdivisions

Two local authorities have remits which collectively encompass the geographic area of the county and city of Cork. The county, excluding Cork city, is administered by Cork County Council, while the city is administered separately by Cork City Council. Both city and county are part of the South-West Region. For standardized European statistical purposes, both Cork County Council and Cork City Council rank equally as first-level local administrative units of the NUTS 3 South-West Region. Thirty-four such LAU 1 entities are in the Republic of Ireland.

For elections to Dáil Éireann, the county is divided into five constituencies—Cork East, Cork North-Central, Cork North-West, Cork South-Central and Cork South-West. Together they return 18 deputies (TDs) to the Dáil. The county is part of the South constituency for the purposes of European elections.

For purposes other than local government, such as the formation of sporting teams, the term "County Cork" is often taken to include both city and county.


Wedge tomb, Glantane East Glantane East Wedge Tomb.jpg
Wedge tomb, Glantane East

County Cork is located in the province of Munster, bordering Kerry to the west, Limerick to the north, Tipperary to the north-east and Waterford to the east. It is the largest county in Ireland by land area, and the largest of Munster's six counties by population and area. At the last census in 2016, Cork city stood at 125,657. [3] The population of the entire county is 542,868 [3] [4] making it the state's second-most populous county and the third-most populous county on the island of Ireland. The remit of Cork County Council includes some suburbs of the city not within the area of Cork City Council.


Twenty-four historic baronies are in the county—the most of any county in Ireland. While baronies continue to be officially defined units, they are no longer used for many administrative purposes. Their official status is illustrated by Placenames Orders made since 2003, where official Irish names of baronies are listed.

Civil parishes and townlands

The county has 253 civil parishes. [7] Townlands are the smallest officially defined geographical divisions in Ireland, with about 5447 townlands in the county.

Mountains and upland habitats

The Beara pass, through the Slieve Miskish mountains Beara Way - - 263663.jpg
The Beara pass, through the Slieve Miskish mountains

The county's mountain rose during a period mountain formation some 374-360 million years ago and include the Slieve Miskish and Caha Mountains on the Beara Peninsula, the Ballyhoura Mountains on the border with Limerick and the Shehy Mountains which contain Knockboy (706 m), the highest point in Cork. The Shehy Mountains are on the border with Kerry and may be accessed from the area known as Priests Leap, near the village of Coomhola. The upland areas of the Ballyhoura, Boggeragh, Derrynasaggart, and Mullaghareirk Mountain ranges add to the range of habitats found in the county. Important habitats in the uplands include blanket bog, heath, glacial lakes, and upland grasslands. Cork has the 13th-highest county peak in Ireland.

Rivers and lakes

Glenbeg Lough, Beara Peninsula Loch an Ghleanna Bhig (Glenbeg Lough) - - 263779.jpg
Glenbeg Lough, Beara Peninsula
Upper lake at Three Castle Head, Mizen Head Three Castle Head Upper Lake 2009 09 10.jpg
Upper lake at Three Castle Head, Mizen Head

Three rivers, the Bandon, Blackwater, and Lee, and their valleys dominate central Cork.[ original research? ] Habitats of the valleys and floodplains include woodlands, marshes, fens, and species-rich limestone grasslands. The River Bandon flows through several towns, including Dunmanway to the west of the town of Bandon before draining into Kinsale Harbour on the south coast. Cork's sea loughs include Lough Hyne and Lough Mahon, and the county also has many small lakes. An area has formed where the River Lee breaks into a network of channels weaving through a series of wooded islands. About 85 hectares of swamp are around Cork's wooded area. The Environmental Protection Agency carried out a survey of surface waters in County Cork between 1995 and 1997, which identified 125 rivers and 32 lakes covered by the regulations.


Cork has a mountainous and flat landscape with many beaches and sea cliffs along its coast. The southwest of Ireland is known for its peninsulas and some in Cork include the Beara Peninsula, Sheep's Head, Mizen Head, and Brow Head. Brow Head is the most southerly point of mainland Ireland. There are many islands off the coast of the county, in particular, off West Cork. Carbery's Hundred Isles are the islands around Long Island Bay and Roaringwater Bay.

Mizen Head is the most south-westerly point of both Cork and Ireland. Mizen head ireland.png
Mizen Head is the most south-westerly point of both Cork and Ireland.

Fastnet Rock lies in the Atlantic Ocean 11.3 km south of mainland Ireland, making it the most southerly point of Ireland. Many notable islands lie off Cork, including Bere, Great, Sherkin, and Cape Clear. Cork has 1,094 km of coastline, the second-longest coastline of any county after Mayo, which has 1,168 km.

Land and forestry

Like many parts of Munster, Cork has fertile agricultural land and many bog and peatlands. Cork has around 74,000 hectares of peatlands, which amount to 9.8% of the county's total land area. And the county contains around 79,188 ha (195,680 acres) of forest and woodland area, or 10.5% of Cork's land area, higher than the national average of 9%.


The hooded crow, Corvus cornix is a common bird, particularly in areas nearer the coast. Due to this bird's ability to (rarely) prey upon small lambs, the gun clubs of Cork County have killed many of these birds in modern times. [8] A collection of the marine algae was housed in the herbarium of the botany department of the University College Cork. [9] Parts of the South West coastline are hotspots for sightings of rare birds, with Cape Clear being a prime location for bird watching. [10] [11] The island is also home to one of only a few gannet colonies around Ireland and the UK. The coastline of Cork is sometimes associated with whale watching, with some sightings of fin whales, basking sharks, pilot whales, minke whales, and other species. [12] [13] [14]


The county is colloquially referred to as "The Rebel County", although uniquely Cork does not have an official motto. This name has 15th Century origins, but from the 20th century the name has been more commonly attributed to the prominent role Cork played in the Irish War of Independence (1919–1921) when it was the scene of considerable fighting. In addition, it was an anti-treaty stronghold during the Irish Civil War (1922–23). Much of what is now county Cork was once part of the Kingdom of Deas Mumhan (South Munster), anglicised as "Desmond", ruled by the MacCarthy Mór dynasty. After the Norman Invasion in the 12th century, the McCarthy clan were pushed westward into what is now West Cork and County Kerry. Dunlough Castle, standing just north of Mizen Head, is one of the oldest castles in Ireland (A.D. 1207). The north and east of Cork were taken by the Hiberno-Norman FitzGerald dynasty, who became the Earls of Desmond. Cork City was given an English Royal Charter in 1318 and for many centuries was an outpost for Old English culture. The Fitzgerald Desmond dynasty was destroyed in the Desmond Rebellions of 1569–1573 and 1579–83. Much of county Cork was devastated in the fighting, particularly in the Second Desmond Rebellion. In the aftermath, much of Cork was colonised by English settlers in the Plantation of Munster.[ citation needed ]

Perkin Warbeck Perkin Warbeck.jpg
Perkin Warbeck

In 1491 Cork played a part in the English Wars of the Roses when Perkin Warbeck, a pretender to the English throne, landed in the city and tried to recruit support for a plot to overthrow Henry VII of England. The Cork people fought with Perkin because he was French and not English, they were the only county in Ireland to join the fight. The mayor of Cork and several important citizens went with Warbeck to England but when the rebellion collapsed they were all captured and executed. Cork's nickname of the 'rebel city' originates in these events. [16] [17]

In 1601 the decisive Battle of Kinsale took place in County Cork, which was to lead to English domination of Ireland for centuries. Kinsale had been the scene of a landing of Spanish troops to help Irish rebels in the Nine Years' War (1594–1603). When this force was defeated, the rebel hopes for victory in the war were all but ended. County Cork was officially created by a division of the older County Desmond in 1606.

Michael Collins, photographed in 1919 Michael Collins.jpg
Michael Collins, photographed in 1919

In the 19th century, Cork was a centre for the Fenians and for the constitutional nationalism of the Irish Parliamentary Party, from 1910 that of the All-for-Ireland Party. The county was a hotbed of guerrilla activity during the Irish War of Independence (1919–1921). Three Cork Brigades of the Irish Republican Army operated in the county and another in the city. Prominent actions included the Kilmichael Ambush in November 1920 and the Crossbarry Ambush in March 1921. The activity of IRA flying columns, such as the one under Tom Barry in west Cork, was popularised in the Ken Loach film The Wind That Shakes The Barley . On 11 December 1920 Cork City centre was gutted by fires started by the Black and Tans in reprisal for IRA attacks. Over 300 buildings were destroyed, many other towns and villages around the county suffered a similar fate including Fermoy. [18]

During the Irish Civil War (1922–23), most of the IRA units in Cork sided against the Anglo-Irish Treaty. From July to August 1922 they held the city and county as part of the so-called Munster Republic. However, Cork was taken by troops of the Irish Free State in August 1922 in the Irish Free State offensive, that included both overland and seaborne attacks. For the remainder of the war, the county saw sporadic guerrilla fighting until the Anti-Treaty side called a ceasefire and dumped their arms in May 1923. Michael Collins, a key figure in the War of Independence, was born near Clonakilty and assassinated during the civil war in Béal na Bláth, both in west Cork.

Irish language

County Cork has two Gaeltacht areas where the Irish language is the primary medium of everyday speech. These are Múscraí (Muskerry) in the north of the county, especially the villages of Cill Na Martra (Kilnamartyra), Baile Bhúirne (Ballyvourney), Cúil Aodha (Coolea), Béal Átha an Ghaorthaidh (Ballingeary), and Oileán Chléire (Cape Clear Island).

There are 14,829 Irish language speakers in County Cork with 3,660 native speakers in the Cork Gaeltacht. In addition, in 2011 there were 6,273 pupils attending the 21 Gaelscoileanna and six Gaelcholáistí all across the county. [19] According to the Irish Census 2006 there are 4,896 people in the county who identify themselves as being daily Irish speakers outside of the education system. Ballingeary is a centre for Irish language tuition, with a summer school, Coláiste na Mumhan, or the College of Munster.[ citation needed ]


The song " The Banks Of My Own Lovely Lee " is traditionally associated with the county. It is sometimes heard at GAA and other sports fixtures involving the county. [20]


There are several media publications printed and distributed in County Cork. These include the Irish Examiner (formerly the Cork Examiner) and its sister publication The Echo (formerly the Evening Echo). Local and regional newspapers include the Carrigdhoun , the Cork Independent , The Corkman , the Mallow Star, the Douglas Post, the East Cork Journal and the Southern Star .

Local radio stations include Cork's 96FM and dual-franchise C103, Red FM, and a number of community radio stations, such as CRY 104.0FM.

Places of interest

Tourist sites include the Blarney Stone and Cobh, the port where many Irish emigrants boarded for their voyage to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa or the United States and also the last stop of the Titanic, before departing on its fated journey. It is home to the World's Oldest Yacht Club, the Royal Cork Yacht Club in Crosshaven.

Fota Island is the only wildlife park in Ireland, Fota House and Gardens, and the Fota Golf Club and Resort; a European Tour standard golf course which has also hosted the Irish Open in 2001, 2002 and 2014.

West Cork is known for its rugged natural environment, beaches and social atmosphere and is a destination for British, German, French and Dutch tourists.


The South-West region comprising counties Cork and Kerry contribute 24,877 million (US$39.3 billion) (2005 values; 2008 exchange rate) towards the Irish GDP. [21] The harbour area to the immediate east of the city is home to many pharmaceutical and medical companies. Mahon Point Shopping Centre is Cork's largest, and Munster's second largest, shopping centre and has over 75 stores including a retail park.

The Golden Vale is among the most productive farmland for dairy in Ireland. The chief milk processor is Dairygold, a farmer-owned co-operative based in Mitchelstown, who process 1.4 billion liters a year, converting the milk into cheeses and powder dairy nutritionals for infant formula. [22]


Cork's main transport is serviced from:


Leading population centres
RankCity/TownPopulation (2016) [23]
Halla na Cathrach i gCorcaigh.jpg
(County Capital) Cobh.jpg
1 Cork 208,669
2 Ballincollig 18,621 [24]
3 Carrigaline 15,770
4 Cobh 12,800
5 Midleton 12,496
6 Mallow 12,459
7 Youghal 7,963
8 Bandon 6,957
9 Fermoy 6,585
10 Blarney & Tower 6,014
11 Passage West 5,843
12 Kinsale 5,281
13 Carrigtwohill 5,080
14 Clonakilty 4,592

Cork city is the only city in the county and the second most populous city in the Republic of Ireland, with a population of 125,657 according to the 2016 census. [3] Cork city is the third most populous city on the island of Ireland. According to the 2006 Census statistics, the county has 11 towns with a population of over 4,000. The county has a population density of 72 persons/km2. A large percentage of the population live in urban areas.

As of the 2011 census, ethnically the population included 85% white Irish people, 9% other white people, 1% black, 1% Asian, 1% other races, and 1% not stated. [25] Catholicism is the main religion at 87%, with other religions at 7%, 5% of people stating that they had no religion, and 1% not stated. [25]


Common surnames in the county include Barry, Buckley, Callaghan, Connell, Connor, Crowley, Lynch, McCarthy, Murphy, O'Leary, O'Sullivan, Sheehan, Walsh, and Fitzgerald (the latter with a Norman derivation). [26] [27] [28]

See also

Related Research Articles

Munster Traditional province in the southwest of Ireland

Munster is one of the provinces of Ireland, in the south of Ireland. In early Ireland, the Kingdom of Munster was one of the kingdoms of Gaelic Ireland ruled by a "king of over-kings". Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into counties for administrative and judicial purposes. In later centuries, local government legislation has seen further sub-division of the historic counties.

Limerick City in Munster, Ireland

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County Kerry County in the Republic of Ireland

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County Limerick County in the Republic of Ireland

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County Tipperary County in the Republic of Ireland

County Tipperary is a county in Ireland. It is located in the province of Munster. The county is named after the town of Tipperary, and was established in the early thirteenth century, shortly after the Norman invasion of Ireland. The population of the county was 159,553 at the 2016 census. The largest towns are Clonmel, Nenagh and Thurles.

Tralee Town in Munster, Ireland

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Mallow, County Cork Town in Munster, Ireland

Mallow is a town in County Cork, Ireland, approximately thirty-five kilometres north of Cork. Mallow is in the barony of Fermoy.

Carrigaline Town in Munster, Ireland

Carrigaline is a town and civil parish in County Cork, Ireland, situated on the River Owenabue. It is about 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) south of Cork city on the R611 regional road, which passes through the town, and just off the N28 national primary route to Ringaskiddy. Carrigaline grew rapidly in the late 20th century, from a village of a few hundred people into a thriving commuter town, although many locals still refer to it as "the village". The town is one of the key gateways to west Cork, especially for those who arrive by ferry from France. Carrigaline is within the Cork South-Central Dáil constituency.

Castleisland Town in Munster, Ireland

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Sliabh Luachra, sometimes anglicised 'Slieve Logher', is an upland region in Munster, Ireland. It is on the borders of counties Cork, Kerry and Limerick, and bounded to the south by the River Blackwater. It includes the Mullaghareirk Mountains.

Charleville, County Cork Town in Munster, Ireland

Charleville is a town in north County Cork, Ireland. It lies in the Golden Vale, on a tributary of the River Maigue, near the border with County Limerick. Charleville is on the N20 road and is the second-largest town between Limerick and Cork. The Roman Catholic parish of Charleville is within the Diocese of Cloyne. Significant industries in the town include Kerry Co-Op and the construction and services sectors.

Great Island Irish island

Great Island is an island in Cork Harbour, at the mouth of the River Lee in Ireland. The largest town on the island is Cobh, and the island's economic and social history has historically been linked to the naval, ship-building, and shipping activities in the town's environs. Located close to Cork city, as of the 21st century, a key economic driver is tourism – including the cruise tourism attracted by the Port of Cork berthing facilities on the island.

Dromahane Village in Munster, Ireland

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Munster Blackwater River in southern Ireland

The Blackwater or Munster Blackwater is a river which flows through counties Kerry, Cork, and Waterford in Ireland. It rises in the Mullaghareirk Mountains in County Kerry and then flows in an easterly direction through County Cork, through Mallow and Fermoy. It then enters County Waterford where it flows through Lismore, before abruptly turning south at Cappoquin, and finally draining into the Celtic Sea at Youghal Harbour. In total, the Blackwater is 169 km long. The total catchment area of the River Blackwater is 3,324 km2. The long term average flow rate of the River Blackwater is 89.1 cubic metres per second (m3/s) The Blackwater is notable for being one of the best salmon fishing rivers in the country. Like many Irish and British rivers, salmon stocks declined in recent years, but the Irish government banned commercial netting of salmon off the coast of Ireland in November 2006.

Cappoquin Town in Munster, Ireland

Cappoquin, also spelt Cappaquin or Capaquin, is a town in west County Waterford, Ireland. It is on the Blackwater river at the junction of the N72 national secondary road and the R669 regional road. It is positioned on a sharp 90-degree bend in the river and nestles at the foot of the Knockmealdown Mountains. The town is a few miles from Mount Melleray and Lismore, County Waterford.

Metropolitan Cork is a semi-official term which refers to the city of Cork, Ireland, its suburbs, the rural hinterland that surrounds it, and a number of the towns and villages in that hinterland. Some of the latter towns and villages are within the administrative area of County Cork.

South-West Region, Ireland

The South-West Region is a NUTS Level III statistical region of Ireland. It consists of the territory of Cork City, the regional capital, as well as the counties of Cork and Kerry. The South-West region spans 12,161 km2, roughly 16% of the total area of the state and according to the 2016 census has a population of 689,750.

Cork (city) City in County Cork, Munster, Ireland

Cork is the second largest city in Ireland, located in the south-west of Ireland, in the province of Munster. Following an extension to the city's boundary in 2019, its population is c. 210,000.

Boherbue Village in Munster, Ireland

Boherbue or Boherboy is a village in North West County Cork, Ireland. The village is in the civil parish of Kilmeen in the Barony of Duhallow, and spans the townlands of Gneeves, Laharan and Derrynatubbrid. Boherbue is within the Cork North-West Dáil constituency.

Dairygold company in Mitchelstown, Ireland

Dairygold Co-Operative Society Limited is an Irish dairy co-operative based in Mitchelstown, County Cork, Ireland. With its catchment area mostly in the Golden Vale, Dairygold processes an annual volume of approximately 1.4 billion liters of grass fed pastureland milk, making it Ireland's largest dairy co-operative and the island's second largest milk supplier. Formed after the 1989 merger of the Mitchelstown and Ballyclough co-ops, by 2018 it had 7000 shareholder members and reported an operating profit of €29 million from a turnover of €993 million. It has c. 1200 employees, lead by CEO Jim Woulfe and CFO Michael Harte.


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  4. 1 2 3 4 "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: County Cork County". Central Statistics Office (Ireland) . Retrieved 18 November 2018.
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  15. for post 1821 figures 1653 and 1659 figures from Civil Survey Census of those years Paper of Mr Hardinge to Royal Irish Academy March 14, 1865 For a discussion on the accuracy of pre-famine census returns see JJ Lee “On the accuracy of the pre-famine Irish censuses” in Irish Population Economy and Society edited by JM Goldstrom and LA Clarkson (1981) p54 in and also New Developments in Irish Population History 1700–1850 by Joel Mokyr and Cormac Ó Gráda in The Economic History Review New Series Vol. 37 No. 4 (November 1984) pp. 473–488.
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Coordinates: 51°58′N8°35′W / 51.967°N 8.583°W / 51.967; -8.583