Last updated


Laighin [1]
Leinster locator map.svg
State Ireland
   Teachtaí Dála
   MEPs [a]
  Total19,800 km2 (7,644 sq mi)
 (2016) [2]
  Total2,630,720 (1st)
  Density126.5/km2 (328/sq mi)
Time zone UTC±0 (WET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+1 (IST)
Eircode routing keys
Beginning with A, C, D, N, R, W, Y (primarily)
Telephone area codes 01, 04x, 05x, 090 (primarily)
ISO 3166 code IE-L
Patron Saint: Brigid [3] a. ^ Leinster contains the entirety of the Dublin constituency and parts of the South and Midlands–North-West constituencies; Leinster contains 44.4% of the population of the Midlands–North-West constituency and 32.3% of the population of the South constituency. [4]

Leinster ( /ˈlɛnstər/ LEN-stər; Irish : Laighin [ˈl̪ˠaːjɪnʲ] or Cúige Laighean [ˈkuːɟə ˈl̪ˠaɪnˠ] ) is one of the provinces of Ireland, situated in the east of Ireland. The Leinster province comprises the ancient Kingdoms of Meath, Leinster and Osraige. Following the 12th-century Norman invasion of Ireland, the historic fifths of Leinster and Meath gradually merged, mainly due to the impact of the Pale, which straddled both, thereby forming the present-day province of Leinster. The ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial purposes. In later centuries, local government legislation has seen further sub-division of the historic counties.


Leinster has no official function for local-government purposes. However, the province is an officially recognised subdivision of Ireland. It is listed on ISO 3166-2 as one of the four provinces of Ireland and "IE-L" is attributed to Leinster as its country sub-division code.

Leinster had a population of 2,630,720 according to the preliminary results of the 2016 census, making it the most populous province in the country. [2] The traditional flag of Leinster features a golden harp on a green background.


Early history

Leinster, province of Ireland (Hogg, 1784) Ireland Leinster Hogg 1784 700x1030.jpg
Leinster, province of Ireland (Hogg, 1784)

The Gaelic Kingdom of Leinster before 1171, considerably smaller than the present-day province, usually did not include certain territories such as Meath, Osraige or the Viking cities of Wexford and Dublin. The first part of the name Leinster derives from Laigin , the name of a major tribe that once inhabited the area. [5] The latter part of the name derives either from the Irish tír or from the Old Norse staðr, both of which translate as "land" or "territory".

Úgaine Mór (Hugony the Great), who supposedly built the hill-fort of Dún Ailinne, near Kilcullen in County Kildare, united the tribes of Leinster. He is a likely, but uncertain candidate as the first historical king of Laigin (Leinster) in the 7th century BC. Circa 175/185 AD, following a period of civil wars in Ireland, the legendary Cathair Mor re-founded the kingdom of Laigin. The legendary Finn Mac Cool, or Fionn mac Cumhaill, reputedly built a stronghold at the Hill of Allen, on the edge of the Bog of Allen, in what was then Leinster.

In the 4th and 5th centuries AD, after Magnus Maximus had left Britain in 383 AD with his legions, leaving a power vacuum, colonists from Laigin settled in North Wales, specifically in Anglesey, Carnarvonshire and Denbighshire. [6] In Wales some of the Leinster-Irish colonists left their name on the Llŷn Peninsula (in Gwynedd), which derives its name from Laigin. [7] In the 5th century, the emerging Uí Néill dynasties from Connacht conquered areas of Westmeath, Meath and Offaly from the Uí Enechglaiss and Uí Failge of the Laigin. [8] Uí Néill Ard Righ attempted to exact the Boroimhe Laighean (cattle-tribute) from the Laigin from that time, in the process becoming their traditional enemies.

By the 8th century the rulers of Laigin had split into two dynasties: [9]

After the death of the last Kildare-based King of Laigin, Murchad Mac Dunlainge in 1042, [10] the kingship of Leinster reverted to the Uí Cheinnselaig sept based in the south east in present-day County Wexford. [11] This southern dynasty provided all the later Kings of Leinster.

Kingdom of Ireland period

Leinster represents the extended "English Pale", counties controlled directly from Dublin, at the beginning of the 1600s. The other three Provinces had their own regional Presidency systems, based on a Welsh model of administration, in theory if not in fact from the 1570s and 1580s up to the 1670s, and were considered separate entities. Gradually "Leinster" subsumed the term of "The Pale", as the kingdom was pacified and the difference between the old Pale area and the wider province, now also under English administration, grew less distinct.

The expansion of the province took in the territory of the ancient Kingdom of Mide encompassing much of present-day counties Meath, Westmeath and Longford with five west County Offaly baronies. [12] Local lordships were incorporated during the Tudor conquest of Ireland and subsequent plantation schemes.

Other boundary changes included County Louth, officially removed from Ulster in 1596, the baronies of Ballybritt and Clonlisk (formerly Éile Uí Chearbhaill in the county palatine of Tipperary) in Munster becoming part of Leinster in 1606, and the 'Lands of Ballymascanlon' transferred from Armagh to Louth circa 1630. The provincial borders were redrawn by Cromwell for administration and military reasons, and the Offaly parishes of Annally and Lusmagh, formerly part of Connacht, were transferred in 1660.

The last major boundary changes within Leinster occurred with the formation of County Wicklow (1603–1606), [13] from lands in the north of Carlow (which previously extended to the sea) and most of southern Dublin. [14] Later minor changes dealt with "islands" of one county in another. By the late 1700s, Leinster looked as shown in the above map of 1784.

Counties and Counties Corporate

Following the abolition of County Dublin, three successor counties were created that cover the same area. They are Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown, [15] Fingal and South Dublin. To these may be added the historic County Corporate of the city of Dublin, which, under the terms of the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 was abolished to be succeeded by the County borough of Dublin. This was in turn abolished under the terms of the Local Government Act 2001 and the area is now under the jurisdiction of Dublin City Council. The remaining counties of the province are Kildare, Offaly, Laois, Wexford, Carlow, Wicklow, Louth, Meath, Westmeath, Longford and Kilkenny. While Kilkenny city was once a county corporate, by the terms of the 1898 Act it became part of the administrative county. [16] although it retains the privilege of calling itself a city.



As is the norm for language in Ireland, English is the primary spoken language, but there is an active Irish-speaking minority in the province. According to the Census of Ireland of 2011, there were 18,947 daily speakers of Irish in Leinster outside the education system, [17] including 1,299 native speakers in the small Gaeltacht of Ráth Chairn. As of 2011, there were 19,348 students attending the 66 Gaelscoils (Irish-language primary schools) and 15 Gaelcholáistí (Irish-language secondary schools) in the province, primarily in the Dublin area. [18]


A number of sporting and cultural organisations organise themselves on provincial lines, including Leinster Rugby, Leinster Cricket Union, Leinster Hockey Association and Leinster GAA.

While Leinster GAA is made-up primarily of the traditional counties of the province, GAA teams from Galway, Kerry and Antrim have played in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship, as has a team from London; Galway won the title in 2012. Participation of these counties is based on their performances in the Christy Ring Cup.

Large settlements

As of the 2016 census, the larger settlements in Leinster included:

#SettlementCountyMunicipal District Pop.Settlement Pop.Former Legal Town Pop.
1 Dublin City [19] County Dublin 1,347,3591,173,179554,554
2 Dundalk County Louth 55,806 [20] 39,004 [21] 32,520 [22]
3 Kilkenny County Kilkenny 52,172 [23] 26,512 [24] 9,842 [25]
4 Drogheda County Louth 44,052 [26] 40,956 [27] 31,785 [28]
5 Swords County Dublin 42,73839,248 [29] 36,924
6 Bray County Wicklow 35,53132,600 [30] 27,709
7 Navan County Meath 34,93130,173 [31] 30,097
8 Carlow County Carlow 34,84624,272 [32] 14,425

See also

Related Research Articles

County Wicklow County in the Republic of Ireland

County Wicklow is a county in Ireland. The last of the traditional 32 counties to be formed, as late as 1606, it is part of the Mid-East Region and also part of the traditional province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Wicklow, which derives from the Old Norse name Víkingaló, meaning "Vikings' Meadow". Wicklow County Council is the local authority for the county. The county had a population of 142,425 at the 2016 census.

Kingdom of Meath Former kingdom in Ireland, from centre to eastern coast

Meath was a kingdom in Ireland from the 1st to the 12th century AD. Its name means "middle," denoting its location in the middle of the island.

The Laigin, modern spelling Laighin, were a population group of early Ireland. They gave their name to the province of Leinster, which in the medieval era was known in Irish as Cóiced Laigen, meaning "province of the Leinstermen". Their territory, located in south-east Ireland, is thought to have once extended from the River Shannon to the River Boyne.

Lyons Hill Town in Leinster, Ireland

Lyons Hill is a restored village, and former parish with church, now part of the community of Ardclough in north County Kildare. At a time when canal passenger boats travelled at 3 mph (4.8 km/h) Lyons was the nearest overnight stop to Dublin on the Grand Canal. On the hilltop is a trigonometrical point used by Ireland's Ordnance Survey. The name derives from the Irish language name for elm tree, Liamhan.

Domnall mac Lorcáin, called Dómnall Claen or Domnall Clóen, was king of Leinster, the south-eastern province of Ireland.

The Uí Dúnlainge, from the Old Irish "grandsons of Dúnlaing", were an Irish dynasty of Leinster kings who traced their descent from Dúnlaing mac Énda Niada. He was said to be a cousin of Énnae Cennsalach, eponymous ancestor of the rival Uí Chennselaig.

The Uí Ceinnselaig, from the Old Irish "grandsons of Cennsalach", are an Irish dynasty of Leinster who trace their descent from Énnae Cennsalach, a supposed contemporary of Niall of the Nine Hostages. Énda was said to be a grandson of Bressal Bélach and a first cousin of Dúnlaing mac Énda Niada, eponymous ancestor of the rival Uí Dúnlainge.


Laytown-Bettystown-Mornington is a census town in East Meath, County Meath, Ireland, comprising the adjoining villages of Laytown, Bettystown and Mornington. It had a population of 5,597 at the 2002 census, 10,889 at the 2011 census, and 11,872 as of the 2016 census. The coastline stretches from the River Boyne, which borders County Louth to the River Delvin, which borders County Dublin. This stretch of beach is 11 km (7 mi) long and constitutes the whole County Meath coastline.

Murchad mac Brain Mut was a King of Leinster from the Uí Dúnlainge branch of the Laigin. He was the son of Bran Mut mac Conaill, a previous king. He ruled from 715 to 727.

Bran Becc mac Murchado was a King of Leinster from the Uí Dúnlainge branch of the Laigin. He was the son of Murchad mac Brain Mut, a previous king. He ruled briefly in 738.

Mullaghmast mountain in Ireland

Mullaghmast, is a hill in the south of County Kildare, Leinster, near the village of Ballitore and near the borders with Wicklow, Laois and Carlow. It was an important site in prehistory, in early history and again in more recent times. It is classed as a National Monument by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.

Cellach mac Dúnchada was a King of Leinster of the Uí Dúnchada sept of the Uí Dúnlainge branch of the Laigin. He was the son of Dúnchad mac Murchado, and Taileflaith. This sept had their royal seat at Líamhain. He ruled from 760 to 776.

Muiredach mac Murchado was a King of Leinster from the Uí Dúnlainge branch of the Laigin. He was the son of Murchad mac Brain Mut, a previous king. He ruled from 738 to 760.

Forbassach Ua Congaile was a king of the Uí Failge, a Laigin people of County Offaly.

National Camogie League

The National Camogie League, known for sponsorship reasons as the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie Leagues, is the second most important competition in the Irish team sport of camogie, played exclusively by women. The competition is held in three divisions graded by ability. It was first played in 1976 for a trophy donated by Allied Irish Banks when Tipperary beat Wexford in a replayed final. Division Two was inaugurated in 1979 and won by Kildare.

The 2015 Leinster Senior Football Championship is the 2015 installment of the annual Leinster Senior Football Championship held under the auspices of Leinster GAA. The competition is due to start on 16 May 2015 with Offaly drawn against Longford in the opening game. The final took place 12 July. Dublin won their tenth Leinster title in 11 years after a 2-13 to 0-6 win against Westmeath.

The 2016 Leinster Senior Football Championship was the 2016 installment of the annual Leinster Senior Football Championship held under the auspices of Leinster GAA. The competition ran from 14 May 2016 to 17 July 2016.

The 2018 Leinster Senior Football Championship was the 2018 installment of the annual Leinster Senior Football Championship organised by Leinster GAA.

The 2019 All-Ireland Minor Hurling Championship was the 89th staging of the All-Ireland Minor Hurling Championship since its establishment by the Gaelic Athletic Association in 1928. The championship began on 27 April 2019 and ended on 18 August 2019.

Uí Dúnchada Irish lineage and kingdom.


  1. "ISO 3166-2 Newsletter II-1" (PDF). Iso.org. 19 February 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2016. which gives Leinster as the official English name of the Province and Laighin as the official Irish name of the Province and cites "Ordnance Survey Office, Dublin 1993"
  2. 1 2 "Population and Actual and Percentage Change 2011 to 2016 by Sex, Province County or City". Central Statistics Office. 2016.
  3. John Koch (2006). Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. 1. ABC-CLIO. Brigit (Goddess)
  4. Census of Ireland 2016
  5. Sean J Connolly (2007). The Oxford Companion to Irish History. Oxford University Press. p. 308. ISBN   9780199234837.
  6. R F Foster (1992). The Oxford History of Ireland. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press. p. 6. ISBN   0-19-285271-X. (References to Irish colony in North Wales, Lleyn Peninsula)
  7. "Kings of Laigin / Leinster (Gaels of Ireland)". HistoryFiles.co.uk. Retrieved 17 February 2018.
  8. Mark Clinton (2000). Alfred P. Smyth (ed.). "Settlement patterns in the early historic kingdom of Leinster (seventh-mid twelfth centuries)". Seanchas:Studies in Early and Medieval Irish Archaeology, History and Literature in Honour of Francis John Byrne . Dublin: Four Courts Press: 275–298.
  9. Seán Duffy (2005). Medieval Ireland: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. pp. 426, 449. ISBN   9781135948245.
  10. Alfred P. Smyth (1982). "Celtic Leinster: towards an historical geography of early Irish civilization, A.D. 500–1600". Irish Academic Press. p. 81. ISBN   9780716500971. Murchad, that Ui Dunlainge king who founded an unbroken rotational line of Leinster kings which lasted from 715 to 1042
  11. Edel Bhreathnach (2000). Alfred P. Smyth (ed.). "Kings, the kingship of Leinster, and the regnal poems of "laidshenchas Laigen":a reflection of dynastic politics in Leinster, 650–1150". Seanchas: Studies in Early and Medieval Irish Archaeology, History and Literature in Honour of Francis J. Byrne. Dublin: Four Courts Press: 299–312.
  12. Paul Walsh (2003). "1 (Early Leinster and Meath, province and diocese )". Irish Leaders and Learning Through the Ages. Four Courts Press. p. 33. ISBN   9781851825431.
  13. Emmett O'Byrne (2003). War, politics and the Irish of Leinster, 1156–1606. Four Courts Press. ISBN   1851826904. Leinster from the death of Toirdhealbhach O’Connor in 1156 to the establishment, in 1606, of County Wicklow – the last Irish and Leinster county to be created
  14. Alfred P. Smyth (1994). Ken Hannigan, William F. Nolan (eds.). "Kings, Saints and Sagas" . Wicklow History & Society. Geography Publications: 41–111. ISBN   9780906602300.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
  15. "Welcome to dlr | Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council". Dlrcoco.ie. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  16. "A handbook of local government in Ireland : containing an explanatory introduction to the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898 : together with the text of the act, the orders in Council, and the rules made thereunder relating to county council, rural district council, and guardian's elections : with an index". Ia341031.us.archive.org. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  17. "Table 32A Irish speakers aged 3 years and over in each Province, County and City, classified by frequency of speaking Irish" (PDF). Census 2006 – Volume 9 – Irish Language. CSO. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  18. "Statisticí – Oideachas Trí Mheán na Gaeilge in Éirinn sa Ghalltacht 2010–2011" (PDF) (in Irish). Gaelscoileanna.ie. 2011. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  19. "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: Settlements Dublin City And Suburbs". census.cso.ie. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  20. "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: Municipal District Dundalk". census.cso.ie. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  21. "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: Settlements Dundalk". census.cso.ie. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  22. "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: Former Legal Town Dundalk Legal Town". census.cso.ie. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  23. "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: Municipal District Kilkenny City East". census.cso.ie. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  24. "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: Settlements Kilkenny". census.cso.ie. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  25. "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: Former Legal Town Kilkenny Legal Town". census.cso.ie. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  26. "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: Municipal District Drogheda". census.cso.ie. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  27. "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: Settlements Drogheda". census.cso.ie. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  28. "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: Former Legal Town Drogheda Legal Town". census.cso.ie. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  29. "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: Settlements Swords". census.cso.ie. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  30. "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: Settlements Bray". census.cso.ie. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  31. "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: Settlements An Uaimh (Navan)". census.cso.ie. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  32. "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: Settlements Carlow". census.cso.ie. Retrieved 14 April 2018.

Coordinates: 53°20′52″N6°15′35″W / 53.34778°N 6.25972°W / 53.34778; -6.25972