The Counties of Ireland

The island of Ireland is divided into four provinces: Ulster, Connacht, Leinster and Munster. Within these four provinces there are 32 counties. 26 of these counties make up the Republic of Ireland, while 6 counties in Ulster remained within the United Kingdom after the 1916-22 independence struggle to form Northern Ireland. As a result of this, many republican groups historically made reference to the "26 Counties" (the Free State/Republic) and the "6 Counties" (Northern Ireland) and the "32 counties" in lieu of their official designations.

One county in particular has found itself the subject of a political language battle during the 20th century. The county of Londonderry was created by English planters settling in the area known in Irish as Doire during the Ulster Plantation of 1609. Nationalist groups and individuals object to the "London" prefix, and refer to the county as Derry, as does the Republic and its media services.

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The counties of Ireland do not precisely correspond with its administrative divisions. In the Republic, these divisions are made along county and city council lines, with the only major differences to the above map being the addition of the cities of Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Limerick and Galway and the splitting of two counties. Tipperary is comprised of two administrative counties (north and south), while County Dublin was abolished as an administrative unit in 1994 and replaced with Counties Fingal, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and South Dublin. These changes are ignored within the general public perception of Ireland's counties.

The administrative divisions of Northern Ireland bear little resemblance to the county structure, as the divisions mirror those in England, Scotland and Wales by being based upon cities, boroughs and districts. Altogether there are 26 separate administrative areas within Northern Ireland.

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