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Coordinates: 52°15′N 9°00′W / 52.250°N 9.000°W / 52.250; -9.000
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An Mhumhain[1]
Location of Munster
Coordinates: 52°15′N 9°00′W / 52.250°N 9.000°W / 52.250; -9.000
 • Teachtaí Dála13 Fianna Fáil TDs
8 Independent TDs
8 Sinn Féin TDs
8 Fine Gael TDs
2 Labour Party TDs
2 Green Party TDs
1 Anti-Austerity Alliance TD
1 Social Democrat TD
 • MEPs[a]1 Fine Gael MEP
1 Fianna Fáil MEP
1 Green Party MEP
1 Independents 4 Change MEP
 • Total24,684 km2 (9,527 sq mi)
 • Rank1st
 • Total1,373,346
 • Rank3rd
 • Density56/km2 (140/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC±0 (WET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (IST)
Eircode routing keys
Beginning with E, H, P, T, V, X (primarily)
Telephone area codes02x, 05x, 06x (primarily)
ISO 3166 codeIE-M
Patron Saint: Ailbe of Emly[3] a. ^ Munster is part of the South constituency; the six Munster counties contain 67.7% of the population of this constituency.[4]

Munster (Irish: an Mhumhain ˈwuːnʲ] or Cúige Mumhan [ˌkuːɟə ˈmˠuːnˠ]) is one of the four provinces of Ireland, located in the south of the island. In early Ireland, the Kingdom of Munster was one of the kingdoms of Gaelic Ireland ruled by a "king of over-kings" (Irish: rí ruirech). 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.

Munster has no official function for local government purposes. For the purposes of the ISO, the province is listed as one of the provincial sub-divisions of the State (ISO 3166-2:IE) and coded as "IE-M". Geographically, Munster covers a total area of 24,675 km2 (9,527 sq mi) and has a population of 1,373,346,[2] with the most populated city being Cork. Other significant urban centres in the province include Limerick and Waterford.


The Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary, historical seat of the Kings of Munster

In the early centuries AD, Munster was the domain of the Iverni peoples and the Clanna Dedad familial line, led by Cú Roí and to whom the king Conaire Mór also belonged. In the 5th century, Saint Patrick spent several years in the area and founded Christian churches and ordained priests. During the Early Middle Ages, most of the area was part of the Kingdom of Munster, ruled by the Eóganachta dynasty. Prior to this, the area was ruled by the Dáirine and Corcu Loígde overlords. Later rulers from the Eóganachta included Cathal mac Finguine and Feidlimid mac Cremthanin. Notable regional kingdoms and lordships of Early Medieval Munster were Iarmuman (West Munster), Osraige (Ossory), Uí Liatháin, Uí Fidgenti, Éile, Múscraige, Ciarraige Luachra, Corcu Duibne, Corcu Baiscinn, and Déisi Muman.

By the 9th century, the Gaels had been joined by Norse Vikings who founded towns such as Cork, Waterford and Limerick, for the most part, incorporated into a maritime empire by the Dynasty of Ivar, who periodically would threaten Munster with conquest in the next century. Around this period Ossory broke away from Munster. The Eóganachta dominated Munster until the 10th century,[5] which saw the rise of the Dalcassian clan, who had earlier annexed Thomond, north of the River Shannon to Munster. Their leaders were the ancestors of the O'Brien dynasty and spawned Brian Boru, perhaps the most noted High King of Ireland, and several of whose descendants were also high kings.

By 1118, Munster had fractured into the Kingdom of Thomond under the O'Briens, the Kingdom of Desmond under the MacCarthy dynasty (Eóganachta), and the short-lived Kingdom of Ormond under the O'Kennedys (another Dalcassian sept). The three crowns of the flag of Munster represent these three late kingdoms.

There was Norman influence from the 14th century, including by the FitzGerald, de Clare and Butler houses, two of whom carved out earldoms within the Lordship of Ireland, the Earls of Desmond eventually becoming independent potentates, while the Earls of Ormond remained closer to England. The O'Brien of Thomond and MacCarthy of Desmond surrendered and regranted sovereignty to the Tudors in 1543 and 1565, joining the Kingdom of Ireland. The impactful Desmond Rebellions, led by the FitzGeralds, soon followed.

The area of Munster was then colonized in the mid to late 16th century by the British plantations of Ireland during the Tudor conquest of Ireland, a group known as the West Country Men played a role in the colonization of Munster,[6][7] attempts to settle a joint stock colony at Kerrycurrihy in 1568 was made and Richard Grenville also seized lands for colonization at Tracton, to the west of Cork harbour. The Munster plantation was the largest colonial venture of the English at the time.[8][9]

By the mid-19th century much of the area was hit hard in the Great Famine, especially the west.[10] The province was affected by events in the Irish War of Independence in the early 20th century, and there was a brief Munster Republic during the Irish Civil War.

The Irish leaders Michael Collins and earlier Daniel O'Connell came from families of the old Gaelic Munster gentry.


Noted for its traditions in Irish folk music, and with many ancient castles and monasteries in the province, Munster is a tourist destination. During the fifth century, St. Patrick spent seven years founding churches and ordaining priests in Munster, but a fifth-century bishop named Ailbe is the patron saint of Munster.

In Irish mythology, a number of ancient goddesses are associated with the province including Anann, Áine, Grian, Clíodhna, Aimend, Mór Muman, Bébinn, Aibell and Mongfind. The druid-god of Munster is Mug Ruith and Tlachtga is his daughter. Another legendary figure is Donn.

The province has long had trading and cultural links with continental Europe. The Corcu Loígde had a trading fleet active along the French Atlantic coast, as far south as Gascony, importing wine to Munster. The Eóganachta had ecclesiastical ties with Germany, which show in the architecture of their ceremonial capital at the Rock of Cashel.

The majority of Irish ogham inscriptions are found in Munster, principally in areas occupied by the Iverni, especially the Corcu Duibne.[11] Later, Europe's first linguistic dictionary in any non-Classical language, the Sanas Cormaic, was compiled by Munster scholars, traditionally thought to have been directed by the king-bishop Cormac mac Cuilennáin (d. 908).

The School of Ross in Munster was one of Europe's leading centres of learning in the Early Middle Ages.


Several sports in Munster are organised on a provincial basis, or operate competitions along provincial lines. This includes traditionally popular sports such as hurling, Gaelic football, rugby union and soccer, as well as cricket (Munster Cricket Union), hockey (Munster Hockey Union), and others.

Hurling and football[edit]

Munster is noted for its tradition of hurling. Three of the four most successful teams in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship are from Munster; Cork GAA, Tipperary GAA and Limerick GAA. The final of the Munster Senior Hurling Championship is one of the most important days in the Irish GAA calendar.[citation needed] Munster is Ireland's only province whose every single county has won at least one All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship.

Thomond Park in Limerick – one of two venues in the province which host Munster Rugby games

Traditionally, the dominant teams in Munster football are Kerry GAA and Cork GAA, although Tipperary GAA and Limerick GAA have also won All-Ireland Senior Football Championships. Kerry in particular are the most successful county in the history of football.[12]

Rugby union[edit]

Rugby is a popular game in the cities of Limerick and Cork. Munster Rugby is an Irish Rugby Football Union representative side which competes in the United Rugby Championship competition, winning in 2003, 2009, 2011 and 2023 and in the Heineken Cup, winning in 2006 and 2008. Until 2016, the Munster side was the only Irish side to have defeated the New Zealand All Blacks.


Cricket being played at the Mardyke in Cork, the home venue of the Munster Reds

Association football is also a popular game in Munster, with the Munster Football Association governing a number of aspects of the game in the province. In 2024 five Munster clubs play in the League of Ireland: Waterford FC in the League of Ireland Premier Division[13]; and Cobh Ramblers, Cork City F.C., Treaty United F.C. and Kerry F.C. in the First Division.[14]


In Cricket, the province is represented by the Munster Reds in the Inter-Provincial Cup one-day competition and the Inter-Provincial Trophy Twenty20 competition.[citation needed] Munster does not currently participate in the first-class inter-provincial tournament, though Cricket Ireland does have plans to include Munster in the format.[citation needed]

Irish language[edit]

The Irish language, or more specifically Munster Irish, is spoken as a first language in Gaeltachtaí (Irish speaking areas) in a number of areas in the province. This includes West Kerry (Corca Dhuibhne), South Kerry (Uíbh Ráthach), West Cork (Múscraí), south-west Cork (Oileán Cléire), and parts of Waterford (Gaeltacht na Rinne or Gaeltacht na nDéise).

There are about 35,000 Irish language speakers in Munster, with 9,737 native speakers in the Munster Gaeltacht areas of Cork, Kerry and Waterford. There are also 12,219 pupils attending 45 Gaelscoils (Irish language primary schools) and 15 Gaelcholáiste (Irish language secondary schools) in the province.[15] As of the Census of Ireland 2011 there were 13,193 daily speakers outside the education system in Munster.


Historical population

The province is divided into six traditional counties: Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford. Munster is the largest of Ireland's four provinces by land area, and the third largest by population.

County Population
Clare (An Clár) 127,938 3,450 km2 (1,330 sq mi)
Cork (Corcaigh) 584,156 7,508 km2 (2,899 sq mi)
Kerry (Ciarraí) 156,458 4,807 km2 (1,856 sq mi)
Limerick (Luimneach) 209,536 2,756 km2 (1,064 sq mi)
Tipperary (Tiobraid Árann) 167,895 4,305 km2 (1,662 sq mi)
Waterford (Port Láirge) 127,363 1,858 km2 (717 sq mi)
Total 1,373,346 24,684 km2 (9,531 sq mi)

Urban areas[edit]

Cork City Quays
Limerick City Quays
Waterford City Quays

Munster has many large towns, including a number of growing satellite towns, and is the province with the most cities (three) in Ireland.[18] The following is a list of urban areas in Munster in order of size (2022 census figures), with cities and county towns bolded:[19]

Urban areas over 10,000 inhabitants:

Urban areas with 5,000–10,000 inhabitants:


2014 CSO figures indicated that GDP per capita in the province ranged from €28,094 in the South Tipperary/Waterford (South-East) region, to €50,544 in Cork and Kerry (South-West).[20] Disposable income in the province was approximately €22,000 per person in 2008 - behind the Eastern and Dublin region (€25,000 per person) and ahead of the Border, Midland and Western regions (€20,000 per person).[21]

Area Population Counties City GDP € (2012) GDP per person € GDP € (2014) GDP per person €
South-West Region 660,000 Cork & Kerry Cork €32.3 bn €48,500 €33.745 bn €50,544
Mid-West Region 380,000 Limerick & North Tipperary & Clare Limerick €11.4 bn €30,300 €12.116 bn €31,792
South-East Region 460,000 Waterford & South Tipperary Waterford €12.8 bn €25,600 €14.044 bn €28,094
Source: Eurostat[20][22]


Munster's agricultural industry centres around the Golden Vale pasturelands which cover counties Cork, Limerick and Tipperary. Kerry Group manufactures dairy products from the dairy cows of the region, and Glanbia is a food producer which operates an "innovation centre" in the region.[23] Dawn Meats also operate from County Waterford.[24]


Irish-owned retailer Dunnes Stores was founded in Cork, and Ireland's largest supermarket group, the Musgrave Group, is also based in Munster.


Large employers in the region include AOL, Bausch & Lomb, Dairygold, Dell, Amazon, Motorola, Amgen, Pfizer, Analog Devices, Fexco Financial Services, Vistakon, Waterford Crystal, Apple Computer, Intel, Novartis, O2, Lufthansa Technik, Kerry Group, Siemens, Sony and Blizzard Entertainment. The largest employment hub in Munster is Metropolitan Cork, where a number of multinational firms are located in the Cork city area, including at Little Island. The Shannon Free Zone, in County Clare and near Limerick city, is also a centre of employment.

In media[edit]

A number of television companies and studios have (or had) a Munster-focus. These include RTÉ Cork (RTÉ's regional studio in Cork), South Coast TV and Channel South. The latter transmitted local programming to Cork, Limerick, and parts of Kerry, Waterford, Clare and Tipperary.

Apart from the local city or regional newspapers, a number of print outlets focus or market themselves on a provincial basis. These include the Avondhu (covering parts of Cork, Waterford, Limerick and Tipperary),[25] the Nationalist & Munster Advertiser, the Munster Express,[26] and others.

See also[edit]


A County Tipperary, arising from the 2014 amalgamation of North Tipperary and South Tipperary councils, has two county towns


  1. ^ "ISO 3166-2 Newsletter II-1, 19 February 2010, which gives Munster as the official English name of the Province and An Mhumhain as the official Irish name of the Province and cites "Ordnance Survey Office, Dublin 1993" as its source" (PDF). www.iso.org. Archived (PDF) from the original on 3 February 2017. Retrieved 30 December 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d "Census 2022 - F1004A - Population". Central Statistics Office Census 2022 Reports. Central Statistics Office Ireland. August 2023. Retrieved 16 September 2023.
  3. ^ Challoner, Richard. A Memorial of Ancient British Piety: or, a British Martyrology, p. 128 Archived 29 February 2020 at the Wayback Machine. W. Needham, 1761. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  4. ^ Census of Ireland 2016: 1,280,394 out of 1,890,982 total.
  5. ^ Downham, Medieval Ireland, 2018, pp. 101-2
  6. ^ Taylor, Alan (2001). American Colonies, The Settling of North America. Penguin. pp. 119, 123. ISBN 0-14-200210-0.
  7. ^ Somerset, Anne (2003), Elizabeth I (1st Anchor Books ed.), London: Anchor Books, ISBN 978-0-385-72157-8
  8. ^ Falkiner, Caesar Litton (1904). Illustrations of Irish history and topography, mainly of the 17th century. London: Longmans, Green, & Co. p. 117. ISBN 1-144-76601-X.
  9. ^ Moody, T. W.; Martin, F. X., eds. (1967). The Course of Irish History. Cork: Mercier Press. p. 370.
  10. ^ In 1841, before the Great Famine, there were just under three million people living in the province, but the population dropped devastatingly low due to mass emigration in the 1840s and continued emigration up until the 1980s.
  11. ^ The ruins of the Iron Age mountaintop fortress Caherconree, preserving the name of Cú Roí, can also be found in their lands.
  12. ^ "Kingdom's unique structure keeps them well ahead of all pretenders". 26 February 2015. Archived from the original on 11 October 2018. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  13. ^ "SSE Airtricity Men's Premier Division". League of Ireland.
  14. ^ "SSE Airtricity Men's First Division Clubs". League of Ireland.
  15. ^ "Gaelscoil stats" (PDF). Gaelscoileanna.ie. 2011. Archived (PDF) from the original on 19 April 2012. Retrieved 8 January 2012.
  16. ^ "Sapmap Area: Province Munster". Census 2016. Central Statistics Office. 2016. Archived from the original on 23 January 2018. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  17. ^ 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 Archived 20 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine, 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 (Nov. 1984), pp. 473–488.
  18. ^ Local Government Reform Act 2014, s. 12: Local government areas (No. 1 of 2014, s. 12). Enacted on 27 January 2014. Act of the Oireachtas. Retrieved from Irish Statute Book on 27 December 2021.
  19. ^ "Census 2022 - F1015 Population". Central Statistics Office Census 2022 Reports. Central Statistics Office Ireland. August 2023. Retrieved 16 September 2023.
  20. ^ a b "County Incomes and Regional GDP (Table 9a GDP per person at Basic Prices, 2006 to 2014)". Central Statistics Office. 22 March 2017. Archived from the original on 26 March 2017. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  21. ^ "County incomes and regional GDP" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 November 2011.
  22. ^ "appsso.eurostat.ec.europa". Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  23. ^ Gianbia Nutritionals Archived 25 February 2017 at the Wayback Machine – Official website
  24. ^ "Contact Us". www.dawnmeats.com. Archived from the original on 14 September 2017. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  25. ^ "About Us". AvondhuPress. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  26. ^ "About Us | Munster Express Online". Munster-express.ie. Archived from the original on 6 February 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2016.

External links[edit]