What Counties Make Up Northern Ireland?

Northern Ireland has six counties: Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone. These counties were the principal local government divisions of Northern Ireland from its creation in 1921 going on to 1972 when the governmental features were abolished and replaced with the twenty-six unitary authorities which exist today. These councils have boundaries which may cross existing county borders.

Counties of Northern Ireland

Counties of Northern Ireland

The six counties of Northern Ireland form two-thirds of the historical province of Ulster with the other three counties being Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan.

The six counties still have limited political status with car license plates being assigned identifiers according to the county the car is registered in.

  • Antrim – DZ, KZ & RZ
  • Tyrone – HZ, VZ
  • Down: JZ, SZ
  • Armagh: LZ, XZ
  • Londonderry: NZ, YZ
  • Fermanagh: IG

So what about the counties themselves: What are they about?

County Antrim

County Town: Antrim

First Created: Early 14th Century

Population: 618,108

County Antrim covers an area of 3,046 km.  It has two cities, Belfast and Lisburn,  five large towns, seven small towns, five intermediate settlements, 11 villages and 25 hamlets.

Interesting facts:

  • Home of Bushmills Whiskey which is made in the town of Bushmills
  • The Linen Industry started in this county, in the town of Lisburn
  • The Titanic was made in Harland & Wolff Shipyard in Belfast
  • The County is home to many movie sets and Game of Thrones has filmed in various locations

Places of Interests:

  • Rathlin Island
  • Giant’s Causeway
  • Carrickfergus Castle
  • Slemish
  • Dunluce Castle
  • Nine Glens of Antrim – Glenaan, Glenariffe, Glenarm, Glenballyeamon, Glencloy, Glencorp, Glendun, Glenshesk and Glentaisie.
  • Lough Neagh – this is the largest like in the British Isles with a surface area of around 150 square miles.
  • Portglenone Forest Park
  • Stormont – the seat of the Northern Ireland Assembly

Notable people:

  • James Nesbitt – Actor
  • Liam Neeson – Actor
  • Joey Dunlop – Motorcycle Champion
  • Tony McCoy – Jockey
  • C.S Lewis – Author
  • George Best – Footballer
  • Kenneth Branagh – Actor
  • Van Morrison – Singer
  • Graeme McDowell – Golfer
  • Jackie Woodburne – Actress
  • Stiff Little Fingers – Band
  • Brendan Rogers – Football Manager
  • Michael O’Neill – Football Manager
  • Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins – Snooker Player

County Armagh

County Town: Armagh

First created: 1584

Population: 174,792

County Armagh covers an area of 1,326km.  It has one city, Armagh,  four large towns, four intermediate settlements and  four villages.

Interesting Facts:

  • It is known as the ‘Orchard County’ due to the fact there are many apple orchards.
  • Armagh is the only city in the world with two cathedrals both dedicated to the same saint, Saint Patrick.

Places of Interest:

  • Armagh Observatory
  • Navan Fort
  • Tayto Crisp Factory
  • Slieve Gullion – an extinct volcano with a lake at its summit.

Notable people:

  • Les Binks – drummer with Judas Priest
  • Colin Morgan – Actor
  • Ian Paisley – Politician and Former First Minister of Northern Ireland

County Down

County Town: Downpatrick

First created:  Early 14th century

Population: 531,665

County Down covers an area of 2,448km.  It has one city, Newry,  three large towns, four medium towns, nine small towns, nine intermediate settlements, 17 villages and 34 hamlets.

Interesting Facts:

  • Rhianna filmed the video for her song “We Found Love” in a field just outside Bangor
  • County Down is known as St Patrick’s County and his burial seat is in Downpatrick
  • Slieve Donard, at 849 m (2,785 ft), is the highest peak in the Mournes and in Northern Ireland

Notable People:

  • Rory McIlory – Golfer
  • Christine Bleakley – TV Presenter
  • Zoe Salmon – TV Presenter
  • Keith Gillespie – Footballer
  • Bear Grylls – TV Personality
  • Gary Lightbody: Singer (Snow Patrol)
  • Jamie Dornan – Actor
  • Foy Vance – Singer
  • David Healy -Footballer
  • Colin Murray – Radio &  TV Presenter
  • Patrick Bronte – father of Charlotte Bronte (Author)
  • Patrick Kielty -Comedian
  • Duke Special – Singer
  • Two Door Cinema Club – Band
  • Ash – Band

Places of Interest:

  • Mountains of Mourne
  • Tollymore Forest Park
  • Mounstewart Gardens
  • Castlewellan Forest Park
  • The Silent Valley
  • Strangford Lough
  • Ulster Folk & Transport Museum

County Fermanagh

County Town: Enniskillen

First Created: 1584

Population: 61,170

County Fermanagh covers an area of 1,691km and also accounts for 13.2% of land mass of Northern Ireland. Thirty percent of Fermanagh is covered with lakes and waterways. It has one large town, Enniskillen, one intermediate settlement, three villages and 15 hamlets.

Interesting Facts:

  • Home of Belleek Pottery
  • The G8 Summit was held in County Fermangh in June 2013
  • Fermanagh is the only county in Northern Ireland which does not border  Lough Neagh.

Places of Interest:

  • Marble Arch Caves
  • Lough Erne which has 154 islands and a lot of little coves and inlets.
  • Devenish Island

Notable People:

  • Samuel Beckett – author and playwright
  • Denis Burkitt – discoverer of Burkitt’s lymphoma
  • Adrian Dunbar – Actor
  • Neil Hannon – Musician
  • Robert Kerr – athlete & Olympic Gold Medallist
  • Kyle Lafferty – Footballer

County Londonderry

County Town:  Coleraine

First created: 1613

Population: 247,132

County Londonderry is also known as County Derry and covers an area of 2,074km. It has one city, Londonderry, one large town, one medium town, two small towns, five intermediate settlements, 11 villages and 18 hamlets.

Interesting Facts:

  • The County Flower is the Purple Saxifrage
  • The town of Coleraine is the home to the Northern Ireland Milk Cup
  • In 2013 the City of Londonderry was the UK’s City of Culture
  • The 1960’s saw Derry become the focus of the Civil Rights movement in Northern Ireland. Bloody Sunday drew worldwide attention in 1972

Places of Interest:

  • Walls of Derry
  • Springhill
  • Mussenden Temple
  • Lough Foyle
  • The Peace Bridge
  • Roe Valley Country Park

Notable People:

  • Seamus Heaney – Poet
  • Nadine Coyle –  Singer in Girls Aloud
  • Amanda Burton – Actress
  • The Undertones – Band
  • Bronagh Gallagher – Actress
  • Dana – Singer
  • Martin O’Neill – Football Manager

County Tyrone

County Town: Omagh

First created: 1584

Population: 177,986

County Tyrone covers an area of 3,155km and it has one large town, Omagh, three medium towns, ond small town, one immediate settlement, eight villages and 40 hamlets.

Interesting Facts:

  • County Tyrone shares parts of its borders with two Republic of Ireland counties County Donegal to the west and Monaghan to the South.
  • The county of Tyrone is rich in prehistoric and Celtic remains and Neolithic sites include stone circles.

Places of Interest:

  • Sperrin Mountains
  • Ulster American Folk Park
  • Gortin Glen Forest Park
  • Beaghmore Stone Circles
  • Castlederg Castle
  • Ulster History Park

Notable People:

  • Sam Neill – Actor
  • Darren Clarke – Golfer
  • Dennis Taylor – Snooker Player
  • Brian Friel – Playwright