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An Mhumhain[1]
Flag of Munster
Location of Munster
State Ireland
Counties Clare
 • Teachta Dála 21 Fine Gael TDs
9 Labour Party TDs
7 Fianna Fáil TDs
5 Independent TDs
3 Sinn Féin TDs
 • Total 24,675 km2 (9,527 sq mi)
Population (2011)[2]
 • Total 1,246,088
 • Rank 3rd in Ireland, 2nd in the Republic of Ireland
ISO 3166 code IE-M
Patron Saint: Ailbe of Emly[3]

Munster (Irish: an Mhumhain / Cúige Mumhan, pronounced ) is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the south of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" Irish: rí ruirech. Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, 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.

Munster has no official function for ISO, the province is listed as one of the provincial sub-divisions of the State (ISO 3166-2:IE) and coded as "IE-M". For the purposes of elections to the European Parliament, the province, with the exception of County Clare, is part of the South constituency. Geographically, Munster covers a total area of 24,675 km2 (9,527 sq mi) and has a population of 1,246,088 with the most populated city being Cork. Other significant urban centres in the province include Limerick and Waterford.


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

In the early centuries AD, Munster was the domain of the Iverni and the legendary Clanna Dedad led by Cú Roí and to whom the celebrated Conaire Mór also belonged. During the Early Middle Ages, most of the area was part of the Kingdom of Munster, ruled by the Eóganachta dynasty. Prior to this date, the area was ruled by the Dáirine and Corcu Loígde overlords from the early 7th century onwards, perhaps beginning with the notable career of Faílbe Flann mac Áedo Duib. Later rulers from the Eóganachta who would dominate a greater part of Ireland were 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 10th century saw the rise of the Dalcassians (probably descendants of the ancient Mairtine, a sept of the Iverni/Érainn), who had earlier annexed Thomond, north of the Shannon to Munster. Their leaders were the ancestors of the O'Brien dynasty and spawned Brian Bóruma, 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 Munster flag represent these three late kingdoms. This flag can easily be confused with the flag of Dublin which has three castles in a similar pattern on a blue background; it also resembles the lesser coat-of-arms of Sweden, the Three Crowns.

There was Norman influence from the 14th century, due to adventuring of 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, for a time the greatest in Ireland, 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 terrible Desmond Rebellions, led by the FitzGeralds, soon followed.

Almost three centuries later much of the area was hit hard in the Great Hunger, especially the west.[4] After the kingdom was merged into the United Kingdom, there was a war in the 20th century resulting in secession of the Irish Free State. There was a brief Munster Republic during the Irish Civil War, soon defeated by the Irish Army. The Irish leaders Michael Collins and earlier Daniel O'Connell came from families of the old Gaelic Munster gentry.


The area is famed for Irish traditional music. There are many ancient castles and monasteries in the province; this coupled with the vast green countryside and three cities makes it a feature of the tourism industry. A 5th-century bishop named Ailbe is the patron saint of Munster.

In Irish mythology, a number of pagan goddesses are associated with the province including Anann, Áine, Grian, Clíodhna, Aimend, Mór Muman, Bébinn, Aibell and Queen Mongfind. Each is historically associated with certain septs of the nobility. The druid-god of Munster is Mug Ruith. A more shadowy figure is Donn, associated with Tech Duinn, beyond the mortal realm.

The province has long had trading and cultural links with continental Europe. The tribe of Corcu Loígde is known to have 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 distant Germany, which show in the architecture of their ceremonial capital, the famous acropolis on 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.[5] 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.

Political divisions

The province stands divided into six counties and three cities.

County/City Population[6] Area (km²)
County Clare 117,196 3,450
County Cork 399,802 7,500
Cork city 198,582
County Kerry 145,502 4,807
County Limerick 89,684 2,756
Limerick city 102,161
Tipperary 158,754 4,305
County Waterford 47,867 1,857
Waterford city 65,928
Total 1,246,088 24,675

Urban areas

Munster has many large towns and is the province with the most cites in the Republic of Ireland. Many small satellite towns and villages now have large populations because of cities getting larger. Ballincollig is a good example of this. Not long ago it was a small village in the countryside but because of Cork growing larger it is now one of the largest towns in Munster.

Patrick Street, Cork City
River Shannon and King John's Castle, Limerick City
Waterford City Quays
Ballincollig Castle

In order of size (2011 census figures; urban areas with over 10,000 inhabitants):

Urban areas 5,000–10,000

Urban areas in bold have city status.


Suburbs are areas of cities which used to be towns or villages but joined the cities because of them growing larger.

Cork city suburbs

Limerick city suburbs

Waterford city suburbs


The province of Munster contributes 40bn euro (US$52.57bn) to Irish GDP (25% of total Irish GDP) (2004) (greater than the Economy of Northern Ireland 37.3bn euro).[7] Munster also is wealthier than Slovenia (pop. 2m), Lithuania (pop. 3.5m), Latvia (pop. 2.5m) and Kenya (pop. 35m). Munster is the home to many modern capital intensive, highly productive private sector enterprises.

The Economy of Cork and Economy of Limerick are the main engines of the province's economy. The Cork harbour area was the centre of Ireland's heavy industry manufacturing sector. Cork had a steel mill, a shipyard, a car assembly plant, a tyre plant, a deep harbour, and a thriving textile sector in the mid twentieth century. However heavy taxes, excessive regulation, competition from larger centres of economic activity, and the sudden removal of protective tariffs upon membership of the European Economic Community caused a decline in the 1970s. Cork was Ireland's rust belt city in the 1980s, as heavy industry moved out, and newer sectors tried to get established in as unemployment peaked.

Munster was the home of 'The Munster and Leinster Bank', which is parent of Ireland's largest bank Dunnes Stores, and the Musgrave Group. Cork is also home to two of the three Irish stout brands; Murphy's Irish stout, and Beamish, as well as the 'Paddy' brand of Irish whiskey.

The Crescent Shopping Centre is Munster's largest shopping centre located in Dooradoyle in Limerick City with over 110 shops in an estimated 100,000 square metres of retail space. Mahon Point Shopping Centre located in Cork City has an estimated total retail floor area of 23,225 square metres and has 60 shops.

Shannon Airport, a rich music tradition, the best food from land and sea, and landscapes of international renown, have all been influential in the development of the tourist sector in Munster.

Power generation

Ardnacrusha Power Station on the Shannon

The majority of the Republic's power stations are located in Munster.

Ireland's only oil refinery and oil storage facility is still located at Whitegate.

The majority of Ireland's gas production comes from Kinsale Head in County Cork, from where it is transported by pipeline across the country.

Moneypoint power station located near Kilrush in County Clare is Ireland's largest electricity generating station. It is Ireland's only coal powered station and is Ireland's largest emitter of greenhouse gases. It is capable of meeting around 25% of customer demand across the country.

The hydroelectric power plant at Ardnacrusha to the north of Limerick City in County Clare is Ireland's largest river hydroelectric power station and is operated on a purpose built canal from the River Shannon. It was the largest infrastructural project undertaken by newly established Irish Free State and was completed in 1927. For a time it was the largest hydroelectric power station in the world but was overtaken by the Hoover Dam.

I.T. and pharmaceutical industry

Munster is one of Ireland's most important [8]

Munster has developed into the centre of Ireland's pharmaceutical industry. The province plays an ever greater role in the bio-pharmaceutical industry and is successful in fighting off stiff competition from Switzerland and Singapore for inward investments in the bio-pharmaceutical area in companies such as Amgen and Pfizer and Roche (located in Clarecastle Co.Clare).[9]

Metropolitan Cork & Shannon Free Zone

The following are some of the more important employers in the region: 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, with many large multinational firms located in the area. The second most important is the Shannon Free Zone with over 120 international firms based there employing over 7,500 people.


Cork Harbour is the largest natural harbour in Europe and has always had a long and important maritime history.

Haulbowline Island is the location of the Irish naval fleet and the Irish Naval College.

The town of Cobh and the village of Dunmore East are the only cruise ship destination. Cobh is also where the Titanic made its last port of call before meeting its final destiny.

Shannon Foynes Port is located in north County Limerick on the Shannon Estuary on a deep water estuary. Foynes Harbour is located 35 kilometres (22 mi) from the mouth of the River Shannon. The very busy commercial shipping town provides an excellent anchorage plus moorings and a club pontoon that accommodate visitors. New plans are underway for further development of the port,[10]

Foynes provides complete protection from all winds and may easily be described as the most sheltered location upon the Shannon Estuary. It offers safe access as it is well lit and all dangers are well marked. Although subject to the challenges of the Shannon currents, it can be approached at all points of the tide, night or day. The harbour may be entered either from west through the preferred main deep water channel or from northeast by a buoyed channel. [11]

Limerick Port is now control under Shannon Foynes Port Company which is Ireland second largest port authority (2007).[12] [13] [14]

Waterford Harbour(Irish: Loch Dá Chaoch / Cuan Phort Láirge) is a natural harbour at the mouth of the Three Sisters; the River Nore, the River Suir and the River Barrow in Ireland. It is navigable for shipping to both Waterford and New Ross. The Port of Waterford is capable of accommodating vessels up to 32,000 tons dwt. It separates County Waterford from County Wexford on the eastern side of the estuary.

Golden Vale

The Golden Vale is considered rich pastureland and has historically contributed to the wealth of Munster. It is the best land in Ireland for dairy farming.

Infrastructure & Public Transport


Munster is linked to the rest of Ireland via several connections on Ireland's motorway network, most which have been constructed in the past decade. Main interurban routes include the M8 from Cork City which runs through North Co. Cork & Tipperary. The M7 which runs east from Limerick City – acting as a bypass for the city – through north Co. Tipperary & converges with the M8 in Co. Laois to form the primary interurban route to Dublin from the province.

Other major regional routes include the M18 Which runs north from Limerick City through Co. Clare, the N25 which runs east from Cork City through east Co. Cork to Waterford City and onto Rosslare Europort, the N20 which connects Cork City with Limerick City, the N21 & N22 which links Co. Kerry with Limerick City & Cork City respectively. The N24 connects Limerick City to Waterford City. The N71 runs south west from Cork City through West Cork & Co. Kerry. The N72 runs from North Co. Kerry, through North Cork and into Co. Waterford.

The busiest road in the province is the N40 which acts as a southern bypass and artery for the Cork City metropolitan area. This road, previously signposted the N25 until re-designation in 2012, has been extensively upgraded in the past decade with the removal of the Kinsale Road Roundabout & the ongoing removal fo the Bandon Road & Sarsfield Road roundabouts. The N40 links with the N25 via the Jack Lynch Tunnel, which is frequently congested due to the under-powered design of the Dunkettle Interchange

Inter-City & Regional Rail

Railway services in Munster[15] are operated by Iarnród Éireann. Whilst the province, like the rest of Ireland, had an extensive railway network at one time reaching effectively all major population centres within the province, these have been pared back in the past half century to the network as it stands now.

Current Inter-City services are provided in Cork, Limerick, Tralee & Waterford which all have direct connections to Dublin and other provincial centres.[16] In addition there are local services provided on the Tralee – Mallow line, The Limerick – Nenagh – Ballybrophy line & The Waterford – Clonmel – Limerick Junction – Limerick line. In the last decade the Inter-City Network in Munster has expanded with the expansion of the Western Railway Corridor from Limerick railway station through Co. Clare, with new/re-opened stations at Sixmilebridge, Ennis and onto Athenry & Galway railway station in Galway City.

Cork Commuter Rail

In the past decade there has been a significant expansion of services on the Cork Commuter lines.[17] In addition to the existing Cork – Cobh railway which has experienced an increase in frequencies, there has been the re-opening of the Midleton branch,[18] and an expansion of services on the Mallow – Cork line, with proposals for new stations to be established at Blarney & Monard as outlined in Transport 21.


There is an extensive public bus network in operation throughout the province.[19] The main provider of public buses is the state-owned Bus Éireann, which operates intercity,[20] regional,[21] city/commuter[22] & public service obligation routes[23] in the province.

There is also a rural bus network in existence for places not served by other services.[24] Note that these services do not cover all rural areas and tend to have limited timetables and services.

In addition there are private operators on certain routes at a local and regional level, most prominent including Aircoach, JJ Kavanaghs[25] & Irish Citylink.


Airport Rank by Pax in ROI
Cork Airport 2nd
Kerry Airport 5th
Shannon Airport 3rd
Waterford Airport 6th

Irish language

The Irish language, or more specifically Munster Irish is spoken as a first language in Gaeltachtaí (Irish speaking areas);

  • in West Kerry (Corca Dhuibhne)
  • in South Kerry (Uíbh Ráthach).
  • in West Cork (Múscraí)
  • in south-west Cork (Oileán Cléire)
  • in south-west 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 and there is also the 12,219 attending the 46 Gaelscoils (Irish language primary schools) and 22 Gaelcholáiste (Irish language secondary schools) across the province. According to the Irish Census 2011 there are 13,193 daily speakers outside the education system in the province.

The number of Gaelscoileanna (Irish language schools) has increased sharply in the last ten years. Children learn Irish and speak Irish in the Gaelscoileanna. Munster has the second highest number of Irish-medium primary schools (46) in Ireland and the highest number of Irish-medium secondary schools (22) of any Irish province.

Third level institutions

Munster media



  • The Irish ExaminerCork-based national newspaper
  • Evening Echo – daily evening paper covering Cork city. Also a daily Limerick edition
  • The Avondhu – covers North East Cork, West Waterford, South Limerick and South Tipperary.
  • The Munster Express – covers the South East.
  • Nationalist & Munster Advertiser
  • Cork News

The Limerick Leader (covers the Mid West)


  • Clare Champion
  • Clare People
  • Clare Courier
  • Clare County Express





  • The Guardian, Nenagh
  • The Tipperary Star
  • The Nationalist, Clonmel and South Tipperaray
  • "The Three Counties", Carrick-On-Suir
  • "South Tipp Today", South Tipperary
  • The Midland Tribune, Roscrea, and North east Tipperary


  • The Waterford News and Star, Waterford City
  • The Waterford Today, Waterford City
  • The Munster Express, Dungarvan
  • The Dungarvan Leader, Dungarvan
  • The Dungarvan Observer, Dungarvan


  • Red FM – Cork Youth-driven service
  • Clare FM – County Clare
  • Tipp FM – County Tipperary
  • Radio Kerry – County Kerry
  • WLR FM – Waterford City and County
  • 96FM and C103 (dual franchise) – General service for Cork
  • Limerick East community radio – Limerick East
  • Live 95FM – Limerick City and County, covering Thomond (Tuadh Mumhan North Munster)
  • West Limerick 102 – Limerick city and County
  • Spin SW – province-wide- Based in Limerick city
  • Beat 102-103 – Youth-driven service. Counties Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford, South Tipperary and East Limerick covering the Ormond (Urh Mumhan East Munster)
  • RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta "Camchuairt" – Tralee, County Kerry covering Desmond (Deas Mumhan South Munster)
  • RTÉ lyric fm – 96-99FM – Cornmarket Row, Limerick City. Broadcast Country wide


Notable citizens or former citizens of Munster are:


The most popular sports in Munster are Soccer, Gaelic games & Rugby Union. Other popular sports include Basketball, rowing, basketball, racquetball.


Munster is famous for its tradition of hurling. The town of Thurles in County Tipperary is the birthplace of modern GAA. Three of the four most successful teams in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship are from Munster; Cork GAA, Tipperary GAA and Limerick GAA. Clare GAA and Waterford GAA are also among the most prominent teams in the sport. The final of the Munster Senior Hurling Championship is one of the most important days in the Irish GAA calendar.

Gaelic football

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 famous as the most successful team in the history of football.

Rugby Union

Rugby is a popular game in the cities of Limerick and Cork. Munster is an Irish Rugby Football Union representative side which competes in the RaboDirect Pro12, winning in 2003,2009 and 2011 and in the Heineken Cup, winning in 2006 and 2008. The Munster side is the only Irish side to have defeated the New Zealand All Blacks.


Association football is also a popular game in Munster. Four Munster clubs play in the Airtricity League of Ireland; Cork City F.C. and Limerick FC in the League of Ireland Premier Division and Waterford United & Cobh Ramblers in the Irish First Division.

Munster sports stadia[27]

In order of capacity

See also


  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 –
  2. ^ "Province Munster".  
  3. ^ Challoner, Richard. A Memorial of Ancient British Piety: or, a British Martyrology, p. 128. W. Needham, 1761. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ The ruins of the Iron Age mountaintop fortress Caherconree, preserving the name of Cú Roí, can also be found in their lands.
  6. ^ CSO, Census 2011.
  7. ^ "County incomes and regional GDP". 
  8. ^ Colm Keena (13 November 2004). "Fexco posts €9.4m profit on improved turnover". The Irish Times. Retrieved 28 March 2008. 
  9. ^ "Roche Ireland pharmaceuticals & healthcare Clarecastle Co Clare Ireland". 
  10. ^ url=
  11. ^ url =
  12. ^ url =
  13. ^ url=
  14. ^ url =
  15. ^ Ireland Map.
  16. ^ Printed PDF Timetables – Iarnród Éireann – Irish Rail. (20 January 2013).
  17. ^ see Cork Suburban Rail
  18. ^ Service begins on Cork-Midleton line – RTÉ News. Raidió Teilifís É (30 July 2009).
  19. ^
  20. ^ Timetables – Expressway / Intercity – Bus Éireann – View Ireland Bus and Coach Timetables & Buy Tickets. (17 July 2013).
  21. ^ Timetables – Regional Services by County – Bus Éireann – View Ireland Bus and Coach Timetables & Buy Tickets.
  22. ^ Timetables – City / Town Services – Bus Éireann – View Ireland Bus and Coach Timetables & Buy Tickets. (17 July 2013).
  23. ^ Public Service Obligation Contracts | National Transport Authority.
  24. ^ RTP by County (Carlow-Louth) » Rural Transport Network.
  25. ^ Printable PDF Timetables.
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Munster stadia". 

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