an Mhumhain / Cúige Mumhan

Coordinates: 52°15′N 9°00′W / 52.25°N 9°W / 52.25; -9Coordinates: 52°15′N 9°00′W / 52.25°N 9°W / 52.25; -9
State Republic of Ireland 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)
 - Total 1,243,726
 - Rank 3rd in Ireland, 2nd in the Republic of Ireland

Munster (Irish: an Mhumhain / Cúige Mumhan, pronounced [ənˈvuːnʲ]) is a province of Ireland, located in the south of the island. The province is not used as an administration division as such, with the counties filling that role. Much of the area aside from Clare is represented internationally by the South constituency of the European Parliament. The province is of ancient origin and continues as a cultural region forming a strong part of local identity. Geographically Munster covers a total area of 24,675 km2 (9,527 sq mi) and the most populated city is Cork.



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 famous Eóganachta, who succeeded the once mighty 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 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. Much of the area was almost three centuries later also hit hard in the Great Hunger, especially the west.[1] 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 Free State became a republic in 1937.

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


The culture of Munster features prominently in the overall culture of Ireland. The area is famed for Irish traditional music. Munster has a strong sporting heritage, being the birthplace of the modern Gaelic games, especially hurling — the provincial rugby union side Munster Rugby are a prominent identity symbol and are amongst the elite of Europe. 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.

An ancient and frequently remarked upon feature of the spiritual life of Munster is the number of celebrated and notorious goddesses the province claims: Anann, Áine, Grian, Clíodhna, Aimend, Mór Muman, Bébinn, Aibell, and the infamous Queen Mongfind. Each is historically associated with certain septs of the nobility, but these relationships are not exclusive and many commoners have greatly enjoyed their company when offered. Several are known into modern times. Michael Collins was taught about Clíodhna as a child. The survival of some elements of paganism is in part the result of South and West Munster's largely rugged terrain and relative isolation, even from the rest of Ireland, a fact shown also by archaeological studies. The druid-god of Munster is Mug Ruith. A more shadowy figure is Donn, who resides off the coast in Tech Duinn, beyond the mortal realm.

Despite this isolation, Munster was the province of Ireland with traditional trading and cultural links to the Continent. The Corcu Loígde are 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.

As far as early writing, the vast majority of Irish ogham inscriptions, in an alphabet apparently modelled on a Continental script, are found in Munster, principally in areas occupied by the Iverni, especially the Corcu Duibne.[2] 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 centers of learning in the Early Middle Ages.


It comprises the counties of:

County/City Population[3] Area (km²)
County Clare 116,885 3,450
County Cork 518,128 7,500
Cork city (213,580)
County Kerry 145,048 4,807
County Limerick 191,306 2,756
Limerick city (90,000)
County Tipperary 158,652 4,305
County Waterford 113,707 1,857
Waterford city (55,000)
Total 1,243,726 24,675

Urban Areas

In order of size (2006 census figures; urban areas with over 10,000 inhabitants):

Urban areas in bold have city status.


The province of Munster contributes 40 billion euro (US$52.57bn) to Irish GDP (25% of total Irish GDP) (2004) (greater than the Economy of Northern Ireland 37.3bn euro).[4] 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 Allied Irish Bank. Cork, in Munster, is also home of the two largest Irish owned retailing organizations, 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 center located in Dooradoyle in Limerick City with over 110 shops in an estimated 100,000 square meters of retail space. Mahon Point Shopping Centre located in Cork City has an estimated total retail floor area of 23,225 square meters 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

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. & pharmaceutical industry

Munster is one of Ireland's most important I.T. hubs with such multinationals as Apple, Intel, Amazon and Dell locating in the province. The Atlantic Quarter in Cork is a new plan to create a smaller version of Dublin's IFSC in Cork docklands. In Kerry, FEXCO Financial Services in Killorglin is a foreign exchange and global payments group.[5]

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).[6]

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, Teva Pharmaceuticals, 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.

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.

International airports

Major infrastructural projects

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 nDeise)

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


  • RTÉ Cork - Cork based television broadcasting studios for RTÉ
  • South Coast TV - Cork based television company
  • Channel South


  • The Irish Examiner - Cork-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

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 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 Ráidió na Gaeltachta "Camchuairt" - Tralee, County Kerry covering Desmond (Deas Mumhan South Munster)
  • RTÉ lyric fm - 96-99FM - Cornmarket Row, Limerick City. Broadcast Country wide


The most popular sports in Munster are Gaelic games, soccer, rugby, rowing, and basketball.


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 Magners League, 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.


Soccer is also a popular game in Munster. Four Munster clubs play in the League of Ireland; Cork City, Waterford United, Cobh Ramblers, and Limerick FC as well as Tralee Dynamos F.C. and Cobh Ramblers F.C. In the A Championship

Munster sports stadia [8]

In order of capacity


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ The ruins of the Iron Age mountaintop fortress Caherconree, preserving the name of Cú Roí, can also be found in their lands.
  3. ^ "2006 Prelim Census Report". 
  4. ^ "County incomes and regional GDP". 
  5. ^ Colm Keena (13 November 2004). "Fexco posts €9.4m profit on improved turnover". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2008-03-28. 
  6. ^ "Roche Ireland pharmaceuticals & healthcare Clarecastle Co Clare Ireland". 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Munster stadia". 

External links

See also

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