Patron Saints: Finnian of Moville
a. ^ The
Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency for 2011
combined with the preliminary results of
Census of Ireland 2011 for
Ulster (part of).
Ulster contains all of the
Northern Ireland constituency (3 MEPs)
as well as part of the Midlands–North-West constituency (4 MEPs);
the counties of Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal contain 17.5% of the
population of this constituency.
Ulster (/ˈʌlstər/; Irish: Ulaidh pronounced [ˈul̪ˠəi] or
Cúige Uladh pronounced [ˈkuːɟə ˈul̪ˠə],
Ulstèr or Ulster) is a former province in the
north of the island of Ireland. It was made up of nine counties, six
of which are in
Northern Ireland (a part of the United Kingdom) and
three of which are in the Republic of Ireland. It is the second
largest (after Munster) and second most populous (after Leinster) of
Ireland's four provinces, with
Belfast being its biggest city. Unlike
the other provinces,
Ulster has a high percentage of Protestants.
English is the main language and
Ulster English the main dialect.
Lough Neagh, in the east, is the largest lake in the British Isles,
Lough Erne in the west is one of its largest lake networks. The
main mountain ranges are the Mournes, Sperrins, Croaghgorms and
Ulster lay at the heart of the Gaelic world made up of
Scotland and the Isle of Man. According to tradition,
Ireland it was one of the fifths (Irish: cúige) ruled by a
rí ruirech, or "king of over-kings". It is named after the
overkingdom of Ulaid, in the east of the province, which was in turn
named after the
Ulaid folk. The other overkingdoms in
Airgíalla and Ailech. After the Norman invasion of
Ireland in the
12th century, eastern
Ulster was conquered by the
became the Earldom of Ulster. By the late 14th century the Earldom had
collapsed and the
O'Neill dynasty had come to dominate most of Ulster,
claiming the title King of Ulster.
Ulster became the most thoroughly
Gaelic and independent of Ireland's provinces. Its rulers resisted
English encroachment but were defeated in the Nine Years' War
(1594–1603). King James I then colonized
Protestant settlers from Britain, in the Plantation
of Ulster. This led to the founding of many of Ulster's towns. The
Protestant settlers and migrants also led to bouts of
sectarian violence with Catholics, notably during the 1641 rebellion
Armagh disturbances. Along with the rest of Ireland, Ulster
became part of the
United Kingdom in 1801. In the early 20th century,
moves towards Irish self-rule were opposed by many
Home Rule Crisis. This, and the subsequent Irish War of
Independence, led to the partition of Ireland. Six
became Northern Ireland, a self-governing territory within the United
Kingdom, while the rest of
Ireland became the Irish Free State, now
the Republic of Ireland.
Ulster has no official function for local government purposes in
either country. However, for the purposes of ISO 3166-2,
used to refer to the three counties of Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan
only, which are given country sub-division code "IE-U".
2 Geography and political sub-divisions
2.1 County-based sub-divisions
2.2 Council-based sub-divisions
2.3 Largest settlements
4 Physical geography
6 Languages and dialects
7.1 Early history
7.2 Plantations and civil wars
7.4 Republicanism, rebellion and communal strife
Home Rule and partition
7.6 1920 to present
10 Further reading
11 See also
14 Further reading
15 External links
Ulster has several possible derivations: from the Norse name
"Uladztir", which is an adaptation of Ulaidh and tir, the Irish for
"land"; or similarly it may be derived from Ulaidh plus the Norse
genitive s followed by the Irish tir. It has also been suggested
to have derived from Uladh plus the Norse suffix ster (meaning place),
which was common in the
Shetland Islands and Norway.
The Irish name, Cúige Uladh, means the "province of the Ulaid"
(Ulaidh in modern Irish), with the term cúige formerly referring to a
fifth. The Ulaidh were a group of tribes who dwelt in the region.
Ulaidh has historically been anglicised as Ulagh or Ullagh and
Latinised as Ulidia or Ultonia. The latter two have yielded the
terms Ulidian and Ultonian. The Irish word for someone or something
Ulster is Ultach, and this can be found in the surnames MacNulty,
MacAnulty, and Nulty, which all derive from Mac an Ultaigh, meaning
"son of the Ulsterman". Words that have been used in English are
Ullish and Ulsterman/Ulsterwoman.
Northern Ireland is often referred to as Ulster, despite including
only six of Ulster's nine counties. This usage is most common amongst
Northern Ireland who are unionist, although it is also
used by the media throughout the United Kingdom. Most Irish
nationalists object to the use of
Ulster in this context.
Geography and political sub-divisions
Ulster (coloured), showing
Northern Ireland in orange and the Republic
Ireland part in green
Ulster has a population of just over 2 million people and an area of
21,552 square kilometres (8,321 sq mi). About 62% of the
Ulster is in the UK while the remaining 38% is in the Republic
of Ireland. Ulster's biggest city, Belfast, has an urban population of
over half a million inhabitants, making it the second-largest city on
the island of
Ireland and the 10th largest urban area in the UK. Six
of Ulster's nine counties, Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh,
Londonderry and Tyrone, including the former parliamentary boroughs of
Belfast and Londonderry, form
Northern Ireland which remained part of
United Kingdom after the partition of
Ireland in 1921. Three
Ulster counties – Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan – form part of the
Republic of Ireland. About half of Ulster's population lives in
counties Antrim and Down. Across the nine counties, according to the
aggregate UK 2011 Census for Northern Ireland, and the ROI 2011 Census
for counties Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan, there is a Roman Catholic
Protestant of 50.8% to 42.7%.
While the traditional counties continue to demarcate areas of local
government in the Republic of Ireland, this is no longer the case in
Northern Ireland. Since 1974, the traditional counties have a
ceremonial role only. Local government in
Northern Ireland is today
demarcated by 11 districts.
County Antrim (Contae Aontroma; Coontie Anthrim/Antrìm/Antrim/Entrim)
3,046 km2 (1,176 sq mi)
County Armagh (Contae Ard Mhacha; Coontie Airmagh/Armagh)
1,254 km2 (484 sq mi)
County Cavan (Contae an Chabháin)
1,931 km2 (746 sq mi)
County Donegal (Contae Dhún na nGall/Thír Chonaill; Coontie
4,861 km2 (1,877 sq mi)
County Down (Contae an Dúin; Coontie Doon/Doun)
2,466 km2 (952 sq mi)
County Fermanagh (Contae Fhear Manach; Coontie Fermanagh/Fermanay)
1,691 km2 (653 sq mi)
County Londonderry (Contae Dhoire; Coontie Loonenderrie)
2,075 km2 (801 sq mi)
County Monaghan (Contae Mhuineacháin)
1,295 km2 (500 sq mi)
County Tyrone (Contae Thír Eoghain; Coontie Tyrone/Owenslann)
3,263 km2 (1,260 sq mi)
21,882 km2 (8,449 sq mi)
Counties shaded in grey are in the Republic of Ireland. Counties
shaded in pink are in Northern Ireland.
Cavan County Council
Donegal County Council
Monaghan County Council
Fermanagh and Omagh
Fermanagh and Omagh
Fermanagh and Omagh District Council
Derry and Strabane
Derry and Strabane
Derry and Strabane District Council
Mid-Ulster District Council
Causeway Coast and Glens
Causeway Coast and Glens
Causeway Coast and Glens District Council
Mid and East Antrim
Mid and East Antrim
Mid and East Antrim District Council
Antrim and Newtownabbey
Antrim and Newtownabbey
Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council
Ards and North Down
Ards and North Down
Ards and North Down Borough Council
Banbridge and Craigavon
Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon
Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon District Council
Lisburn and Castlereagh
Lisburn and Castlereagh
Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council
Newry, Mourne and Down
Newry, Mourne and Down
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council
Belfast City Council
Ulster with at least 14,000 inhabitants, listed in
order of population:
The GDP of the province of
Ulster is around €50 billion. Salary
levels are the lowest on the island of Ireland.
GDP per person €
Border Region (includes three non-
430,000 (roughly half in Ulster)
East of Northern Ireland
North of Northern Ireland
West and South of Northern Ireland
The biggest lake in the British Isles, Lough Neagh, lies in eastern
Ulster. The province's highest point,
Slieve Donard (848 metres
(2,782 ft)), stands in County Down. The most northerly point in
Ireland, Malin Head, is in County Donegal, as are the sixth-highest
(601 metres (1,972 ft)) sea cliffs in Europe, at Slieve League,
and the province's largest island, Arranmore. The most easterly point
Ireland is also in Ulster, in County Down, and the most westerly
point in the UK is in County Fermanagh. The longest river in the
British Isles, the Shannon, rises at the
Shannon Pot in County Cavan
with underground tributaries from County Fermanagh. Volcanic activity
Ulster led to the formation of the
Antrim Plateau and the
Giant's Causeway, one of Ireland's three
UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Ulster also has a significant drumlin belt. The geographical centre of
Ulster lies between the villages of Pomeroy and
Carrickmore in County
Tyrone. In terms of area,
County Donegal is the largest county in all
At White Park Bay
Countryside west of Ballynahinch
Mourne country cottage
Downshire Bridge Crossing the bay to Murlough
Cattle near Six Road Ends Seen from the Kirkistown to Ballyeaseborough
The Twelve Arches near Dundrum
The track of the
County Donegal Railways Joint Committee (CDRJC)
restored next to Lough Finn, near Fintown station.
Wild Goats on Binnein Fithich
The approach of autumn, Tardree forest
The province's main airport is
Belfast International Airport
(popularly called Aldergrove Airport), which is located at Aldergrove,
11.5 miles northwest of
Belfast near Antrim. George Best
Airport (sometimes referred to as "the City Airport" or "the Harbour
Airport") is another, smaller airport which is located at Sydenham in
Belfast. The City of
Derry Airport is located at Eglinton, 13
kilometres (8 mi) east of the city of Derry. There is also
Donegal Airport (Irish: Aerfort Dhún na nGall), popularly known as
Carrickfinn Airport, which is located in The Rosses.
Railway lines are run by
Northern Ireland Railways (NIR).
Lisburn are strategically the most important
routes on the network with the greatest number of passengers and
largest profit margins. The Belfast-
Derry railway line connecting
Londonderry railway station, via Coleraine, Ballymoney,
Belfast Central and
Belfast Great Victoria Street is a
noted scenic route.
Belfast is also connected with
Larne Harbour, Portadown,
Newry and onwards, via the Enterprise
service jointly operated by NIR and Iarnród Éireann, to Dublin
The main railway lines linking to and from
Belfast Great Victoria
Belfast Central are:
Derry Line and the Portrush Branch
The Bangor Line
The Portadown Line
Only five Irish counties, all in Southern and Western Ulster,
currently have no mainline railway. The historic Great Northern
Ireland connected them. They are Cavan, Monaghan,
Fermanagh, Tyrone and Donegal. A plan to re-link
Sligo and Derry
through Donegal has been postponed until at least 2030.
Languages and dialects
Ulster Irish, Mid
Ulster English, and
Most people in
Ulster speak English. English is taught in all schools
in the province; Irish (Gaeilge) is taught in all schools in the
counties that are part of the Republic, and in schools in Northern
Ireland, almost exclusively in the
Roman Catholic and Irish-medium
sectors. In responses to the 2001 census in
Northern Ireland 10% of
the population had "some knowledge of Irish" and 4.7% could
"speak, read, write and understand" Irish. Large parts of County
Gaeltacht areas where Irish is the first language and some
people in west
Belfast also speak Irish, especially in the "Gaeltacht
Quarter". The dialect of Irish most commonly spoken in Ulster
Northern Ireland and County Donegal) is Gaeilge
Thír Chonaill or Donegal Irish, also known as Gaeilge Uladh or Ulster
Irish. Donegal Irish has many similarities to Scottish Gaelic. Polish
is the third most common language.
Ulster Scots dialects, sometimes
known by the neologism Ullans, are also spoken in Counties Down,
Antrim, Londonderry and Donegal.
Further information: History of Ireland
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Ulster is one of the four Irish provinces. Its name derives from the
Irish language Cúige Uladh (pronounced "Kooi-gah UH-loo"), meaning
"fifth of the Ulaidh", named for the ancient inhabitants of the
The province's early story extends further back than written records
and survives mainly in legends such as the
Ulster Cycle. The
archaeology of Ulster, formerly called Ulandia, gives examples of
"ritual enclosures", such as the "Giant's Ring" near Belfast, which is
an earth bank about 590 feet (180 m) in diameter and 15 feet
(4.5 m) high, in the centre of which there is a dolmen.
In 637, the Battle of Moira, known archaically as the Battle of Magh
Rath, was fought by the Gaelic High King of
Ireland Domhnall II
against his foster son King Conghal of Ulster, supported by his ally
Domhnall the Freckled (Domhnall Brecc) of Dalriada. The battle was
fought near the Woods of Killultagh, just outside the village of Moira
in what would become County Down. It was allegedly the largest battle
ever fought on the island of Ireland, and resulted in the death of
Conghal and the retreat of Domhnall Brecc.
In early medieval Ireland, a branch of the Northern Uí Néill, the
Cenél nEógain of the province of Ailech, gradually eroded the
territory of the province of Ulaidh until it lay east of the River
Cenél nEógain would make Tír Eóghain (most of which
forms modern County Tyrone) their base. Among the High Kings of
Áed Findliath (died 879),
Niall Glúndub (died 919), and
Domnall ua Néill (died 980), all of the Cenél nEógain. The province
of Ulaidh would survive restricted to the east of modern
the Norman invasion in the late 12th century. It would only once more
become a province of
Ireland in the mid-14th century after the
collapse of the Norman Earldom of Ulster, when the O'Neills who had
come to dominate the
Northern Uí Néill
Northern Uí Néill stepped into the power vacuum
and staked a claim for the first time the title of "king of Ulster"
along with the
Red Hand of Ulster
Red Hand of Ulster symbol. It was then that the
provinces of Ailech, Airgialla, and Ulaidh would all merge largely
into what would become the modern province of Ulster.
A bronze statue commemorating The
Flight of the Earls
Flight of the Earls at
north County Donegal.
Domnall Ua Lochlainn
Domnall Ua Lochlainn (died 1121) and
Muirchertach Mac Lochlainn (died
1166) were of this dynasty. The
Meic Lochlainn were in 1241 overthrown
by their kin, the clan Ó Néill (see
O'Neill dynasty). The Ó
Néill's were from then on established as Ulster's most powerful
The Ó Domhnaill (O'Donnell) dynasty were Ulster's second most
powerful clan from the early thirteenth-century through to the
beginning of the seventeenth-century. The O'Donnells ruled over Tír
Chonaill (most of modern County Donegal) in West Ulster.
After the Norman invasion of
Ireland in the twelfth century, the east
of the province fell by conquest to Norman barons, first De Courcy
(died 1219), then Hugh de Lacy (1176–1243), who founded the Earldom
Ulster based on the modern counties of Antrim and Down.
In the 1600s
Ulster was the last redoubt of the traditional Gaelic way
of life, and following the defeat of the Irish forces in the Nine
Years War (1594–1603) at the battle of Kinsale (1601), Elizabeth I's
English forces succeeded in subjugating
Ulster and all of Ireland.
The Gaelic leaders of Ulster, the O'Neills and O'Donnells, finding
their power under English suzerainty limited, decamped en masse in
1607 (the Flight of the Earls) to
Roman Catholic Europe. This allowed
English Crown to plant
Ulster with more loyal English and Scottish
planters, a process which began in earnest in 1610.
Plantations and civil wars
Plantation of Ulster
Plantation of Ulster (Irish: Plandáil Uladh) was the organised
colonisation (or plantation) of
Ulster by people from Great Britain
Presbyterians from Scotland). Private plantation by
wealthy landowners began in 1606, while the official
plantation controlled by King
James I of England
James I of England (who was also King
James VI of Scots) began in 1609. All land owned by Irish chieftains,
the Ó Neills and Ó Donnells (along with those of their supporters),
who fought against the
English Crown in the Nine Years War, were
confiscated and used to settle the colonists. The Counties Tyrconnell,
Tyrone, Fermanagh, Cavan,
Armagh comprised the official
Colony. However, most of the counties, including the most heavily
colonised Counties Antrim and Down, were privately
colonised. These counties, though not officially
designated as subject to Plantation, had suffered violent depopulation
during the previous wars and proved attractive to Private Colonialists
from nearby Britain.
The official reason for the
Plantation is said to have been to pay for
the costly Nine Years' War, but this view was not shared by all in
the English government of the time, most notably the English
Crown-appointed Attorney-General for
Ireland in 1609, Sir John Davies:
A barbarous country must be first broken by a war before it will be
capable of good government ; and when it is fully subdued and
conquered, if it be not well planted and governed after the conquest,
it will eftsoons return to the former barbarism.
Plantation of Ulster
Plantation of Ulster continued well into the 18th century,
interrupted only by the Irish Rebellion of 1641. This Rebellion was
initially led by Sir Phelim
O'Neill (Irish: Sir Féilim Ó Néill),
and was intended to overthrow British rule rapidly, but quickly
degenerated into attacks on colonists, in which dispossessed Irish
slaughtered thousands of the colonists. In the ensuing wars
(1641–1653, fought against the background of civil war in England,
Scotland and Ireland),
Ulster became a battleground between the
Colonialists and the native Irish. In 1646, an Irish army under
command by Owen Roe
O'Neill (Irish: Eoghan Ruadh Ó Néill) inflicted
a defeat on a Scottish
Covenanter army at Benburb in County Tyrone,
but the native Irish forces failed to follow up their victory and the
war lapsed into stalemate. The war in
Ulster ended with the defeat of
the native army at the Battle of Scarrifholis, near Newmills on the
western outskirts of Letterkenny, County Donegal, in 1650, as part of
the Cromwellian conquest of
Ireland conducted by
Oliver Cromwell and
the New Model Army, the aim of which was to expel all native Irish to
the Province of Connaught.
Forty years later, in 1688–1691, the
Williamite War was fought, the
belligerents of which were the Williamites and Jacobites. The war was
partly due to a dispute over who was the rightful claimant to the
British Throne, and thus the supreme monarch of the nascent British
Empire. However, the war was also a part of the greater War of the
Grand Alliance, fought between King
Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV of France and his
allies, and a European-wide coalition, the Grand Alliance, led by
Prince William of Orange and Emperor Leopold I of the Holy Roman
Empire, supported by the Vatican and many other states. The Grand
Alliance was a cross-denominational alliance designed to stop French
eastward colonialist expansion under Louis XIV, with whom King James
II was allied.
The majority of Irish people were "Jacobites" and supported James II
due to his 1687
Declaration of Indulgence or, as it is also known, The
Declaration for the Liberty of Conscience, that granted religious
freedom to all denominations in England and
Scotland and also due to
James II's promise to the Irish Parliament of an eventual right to
self-determination. However, James II was deposed in the
Glorious Revolution, and the majority of
(Williamites) backed William of Orange. It is of note that both the
Williamite and Jacobite armies were religiously mixed; William of
Orange's own elite forces, the
Dutch Blue Guards had a papal banner
with them during the invasion, many of them being Dutch Roman
At the start of the war, Irish Jacobites controlled most of Ireland
for James II, with the exception of the
Williamite strongholds at
Derry and at
Enniskillen in Ulster. The Jacobites besieged
December 1688 to July 1689, ending when a
Williamite army from Britain
relieved the city. The Williamites based in
another Jacobite army at the battle of Newtownbutler on 28 July 1689.
Ulster remained firmly under
Williamite control and
William's forces completed their conquest of the rest of
the next two years. The war provided
Protestant loyalists with the
iconic victories of the Siege of Derry, the
Battle of the Boyne
Battle of the Boyne (1
July 1690) and the
Battle of Aughrim
Battle of Aughrim (12 July 1691), all of which the
Orange Order commemorate each year.
The Williamites' victory in this war ensured British rule in Ireland
for over 200 years. The
Protestant Ascendancy in
Ireland excluded most
of Ulster's population from having any Civil power on religious
Roman Catholics (descended from the indigenous Irish) and
Presbyterians (mainly descended from Scottish colonists) both suffered
discrimination under the Penal Laws, which gave full political rights
Anglican Protestants (mostly descended from English settlers).
In the 1690s, Scottish
Presbyterians became a majority in Ulster, due
to a large influx of them into the Province.
Considerable numbers of Ulster-Scots emigrated to the North American
colonies throughout the 18th century (160,000 settled in what would
become the United States between 1717 and 1770 alone).
Disdaining (or forced out of) the heavily English regions on the
Atlantic coast, most groups of Ulster-Scots settlers crossed into the
"western mountains," where their descendants populated the Appalachian
regions and the Ohio Valley. Here they lived on the frontiers of
America, carving their own world out of the wilderness. The
Scots-Irish soon became the dominant culture of the Appalachians from
Pennsylvania to Georgia. Author (and US Senator)
Jim Webb puts forth a
thesis in his book Born Fighting to suggest that the character traits
he ascribes to the Scots-Irish such as loyalty to kin, mistrust of
governmental authority, and a propensity to bear arms, helped shape
the American identity.
In the United States Census, 2000, 4.3 million Americans claimed
Scots-Irish ancestry. Interestingly, the areas where the most
Americans reported themselves in the 2000 Census only as "American"
with no further qualification (e.g. Kentucky, north-central Texas, and
many other areas in the Southern US) are largely the areas where many
Scots-Irish settled, and are in complementary distribution with the
areas which most heavily report Scots-Irish ancestry.
According to the Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups,
400,000 people in the US were of Irish birth or ancestry in 1790 when
the first US Census counted 3,100,000 white Americans. According to
the encyclopaedia, half of these Irish Americans were descended from
Ulster, and half from the other three provinces of Ireland.[citation
Republicanism, rebellion and communal strife
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Most of the 18th century saw a calming of sectarian tensions in
Ulster. The economy of the province improved, as small producers
exported linen and other goods.
Belfast developed from a village into
a bustling provincial town. However, this did not stop many thousands
Ulster people from emigrating to
British North America
British North America in this
period, where they became known as "Scots Irish" or
Political tensions resurfaced, albeit in a new form, towards the end
of the 18th century. In the 1790s many
Roman Catholics and
Presbyterians, in opposition to
Anglican domination and inspired by
the American and French revolutions joined together in the United
Irishmen movement. This group (founded in Belfast) dedicated itself to
founding a non-sectarian and independent Irish republic. The United
Irishmen had particular strength in Belfast, Antrim and Down.
Paradoxically however, this period also saw much sectarian violence
Roman Catholics and Protestants, principally members of the
Ireland (Anglicans, who practised the British state religion
and had rights denied to both
Presbyterians and Roman Catholics),
notably the "Battle of the Diamond" in 1795, a faction fight between
the rival "Defenders" (Roman Catholic) and "Peep O'Day Boys"
(Anglican), which led to over 100 deaths and to the founding of the
Orange Order. This event, and many others like it, came about with the
relaxation of the Penal Laws and
Roman Catholics began to be allowed
to purchase land and involve themselves in the linen trade (activities
which previously had involved many onerous restrictions). Protestants,
including some Presbyterians, who in some parts of the province had
come to identify with the
Roman Catholic community, used violence to
Roman Catholics who tried to enter the linen trade.
Estimates suggest that up to 7000
Roman Catholics suffered expulsion
Ulster during this violence. Many of them settled in northern
Connacht. These refugees' linguistic influence still survives in the
dialects of Irish spoken in Mayo, which have many similarities to
Ulster Irish not found elsewhere in Connacht. Loyalist militias,
primarily Anglicans, also used violence against the United Irishmen
Roman Catholic and
Protestant republicans throughout the
In 1798 the United Irishmen, led by Henry Joy McCracken, launched a
rebellion in Ulster, mostly supported by Presbyterians. But the
British authorities swiftly put down the rebellion and employed severe
repression after the fighting had ended. In the wake of the failure of
this rebellion, and following the gradual abolition of official
religious discrimination after the Act of Union in 1800, Presbyterians
came to identify more with the State and with their Anglican
neighbours, due to their civil rights now being respected by both the
state and their
1859 Ulster Revival was a major
Christian revival that spread
Home Rule and partition
Royal Avenue, Belfast.
Photochrom print circa 1890–1900.
In the 19th century,
Ulster had the only large-scale industrialisation
and became the most prosperous province on the island. In the latter
part of the century,
Belfast briefly overtook
Dublin as the island's
Belfast became famous in this period for its huge
dockyards and shipbuilding — and notably for the construction of the
Sectarian divisions in
Ulster became hardened into the
political categories of unionist (supporters of the Union with
Britain; mostly, but not exclusively, Protestant) and nationalist
(advocates of repeal of the 1800 Act of Union, usually, though not
exclusively, Roman Catholic). Northern Ireland's current politics
originate from these late 19th century disputes over
Home Rule that
would have devolved some powers of government to Ireland, and which
Ulster Protestants usually opposed—fearing for their religious
rights calling it "Rome Rule" in an autonomous Roman
Ireland and also not trusting politicians from the
agrarian south and west to support the more industrial economy of
Ulster. This lack of trust, however, was largely unfounded as during
the 19th and early 20th century important industries in the southern
most region of Cork included brewing, distilling, wool and like
Thousands of unionists, led by the Dublin-born barrister Sir Edward
Carson and James Craig, signed the "
Ulster Covenant" of 1912 pledging
to resist Home Rule. This movement also set up the
Force (UVF). In April 1914, the UVF assisted with the landing of
30,000 German rifles with 3,000,000 rounds at
Larne by blockading
Larne gunrunning). The
Curragh Incident showed it
would be difficult to use the British army to enforce home rule from
Dublin on Ulster's unionist minority.
In response, Irish republicans created the Irish Volunteers, part of
which became the forerunner of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) — to
seek to ensure the passing of the
Home Rule Bill. Upon the outbreak of
World War I in 1914, 200,000 Irishmen, both Southern and Northern, of
all religious sects volunteered to serve in the British Army. This had
the effect of interrupting the armed stand-off in Ireland. As the war
progressed, in Ireland, opposition to the War grew stronger, reaching
its peak in 1918 when the British government proposed laws to extend
conscription to all able bodied Irishmen during the Conscription
In the aftermath of World War I, the political party Sinn Féin
("Ourselves") won the majority of votes in the Irish general election,
1918, this political party pursued a policy of complete independent
self-determination for the island of
Ireland as outlined in the Sinn
Féin campaign Manifesto of 1918, a great deal more than the devolved
Home Rule advocated by the (I.P.P)Irish Parliamentary
Party. Following the
Sinn Féin victory in these elections the Irish
Declaration of Independence was penned and Irish republicans launched
a guerrilla campaign against British rule in what became the Irish War
of Independence (January 1919 – July 1921). The fighting in Ulster
Irish War of Independence
Irish War of Independence generally took the form of street
battles between Protestants and
Roman Catholics in the city of
Belfast. Estimates suggest that about 600 civilians died in this
communal violence, the majority of them (58%) Roman Catholics. The IRA
remained relatively quiescent in Ulster, with the exception of the
Armagh area, where
Frank Aiken led it. A lot of IRA activity
also took place at this time in
County Donegal and the City of Derry,
where one of the main Republican leaders was Peadar O'Donnell. Hugh
Sinn Féin politician, was elected mayor of
Derry at this
time. In the First Dáil, which was elected in late 1918, Prof. Eoin
Mac Néill served as the
Sinn Féin T.D. for
1920 to present
Main article: History of Northern Ireland
See also: Demographics and politics of
Northern Ireland and Politics
of the Republic of Ireland
Partition of Ireland, first mooted in 1912, was introduced with the
enactment of the Government of
Ireland Act 1920, which gave a form of
"Home rule" self-government to two areas, Southern Ireland, with its
capital at Dublin, and "Northern Ireland", consisting of six of
Ulster's central and eastern counties, both within a continuing United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Dissatisfaction with this led to
the Irish War of Independence, which formally ceased on 11 July 1921.
Low-level violence, however, continued in Ulster, causing Michael
Collins in the south to order a boycott of Northern products in
protest at attacks on the Nationalist community there. The Partition
was effectively confirmed by the
Anglo-Irish Treaty of 6 December
1921. One of the primary stipulations of the treaty was the
Ireland into a self-governing British dominion
Irish Free State
Irish Free State (which later became the sovereign Republic
of Ireland), but with the option of a continuation of the home rule
institution of Northern Ireland, still within the United Kingdom, if
Northern Ireland Parliament (already in existence) chose to opt
out of the Irish Free State. All parties knew that this was certain to
be the choice of the
Ulster Unionists who had a majority in the
parliament, and immediately on the creation of the Free State they
resolved to leave it.
Following the Anglo Irish treaty, the exact border between the new
dominion of the
Irish Free State
Irish Free State and the future Northern Ireland, if
it chose to opt out, was to be decided by the Irish Boundary
Commission. This did not announce its findings until 1925, when the
line was again drawn around six of Ulster's nine counties, with no
change from the partition of 1920.
Electorally, voting in the six
Northern Ireland counties of Ulster
tends to follow religious or sectarian lines; noticeable religious
demarcation does not exist in the South
Ulster counties of Cavan and
Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland.
County Donegal is largely a Roman
Catholic county, but with a large
Protestant minority. Generally,
Protestants in Donegal vote for the political party Fine Gael("Family
of the Irish"). However, religious sectarianism in politics has
largely disappeared from the rest of the Republic of Ireland. This was
illustrated when Erskine H. Childers, a Church of
Ireland member and
Teachta Dála (TD, a member of the lower house of the National
Parliament) who had represented Monaghan, won election as President
after having served as a long-term minister under Fianna Fáil
Taoisigh Éamon de Valera,
Seán Lemass and Jack Lynch.
Orange Order freely organises in counties Donegal, Cavan and
Monaghan, with several Orange parades taking place throughout County
Donegal each year. The only major
Orange Order march in the Republic
Ireland takes place every July in the village of Rossnowlagh, near
Ballyshannon, in the south of County Donegal.
As of 2017[update],
Northern Ireland has seven
Roman Catholic members
of parliament, all members of
Sinn Féin (of a total of 18 from the
whole of Northern Ireland) in the
British House of Commons
British House of Commons at
Westminster; and the other three counties have one
Protestant T.D. of
the ten it has elected to Dáil Éireann, the Lower House of the
Oireachtas, the parliament of the Republic of Ireland. At present
County Donegal sends six T.D.'s to Dáil Éireann. The
county is divided into two constituencies: Donegal North-East and
Donegal South-West, each with three T.D.'s.
County Cavan and County
Monaghan form the one constituency called Cavan-Monaghan, which sends
five T.D.'s to the Dáil (one of whom is a Protestant).
Flag of Ulster
Flag of Ulster served as the basis for the
(often referred to as the Flag of Northern Ireland), which was the
flag of the Government of
Northern Ireland until the proroguing of the
Stormont parliament in 1973.
William Sherard (1659-1728) was the first biologist in Ulster.
Gaelic games (which include
Gaelic football and hurling), Ulster
counties play the
Ulster Senior Football Championship
Ulster Senior Football Championship and Ulster
Hurling Championship. In football, the main competitions in
which they compete with the other Irish counties are the All-Ireland
Senior Football Championship and National Football League, while the
Ulster club champions represent the province in the All-
Club Football Championship.
Hurling teams play in the All-Ireland
Hurling Championship, National
Hurling League and All-Ireland
Hurling Championship. The whole province fields a team to
play the other provinces in the
Railway Cup in both football and
hurling. Gaelic Football is by far the most popular of the GAA sports
Ulster but hurling is also played, especially in Antrim, Armagh,
Derry, and Down.
The border has divided association football teams since 1921. The
Irish Football Association
Irish Football Association (the I.F.A.) oversees the sport in N.I.,
while the Football Association of
Ireland (the F.A.I.) oversees the
sport in the Republic. As a result, separate international teams are
fielded and separate championships take place (Irish Football League
in Northern Ireland, League of
Ireland in the rest of
Derry City F.C. has played in the League of
Ireland since 1985 due to crowd trouble at some of their Irish League
matches prior to this. The other major
Ulster team in the League of
Finn Harps of Ballybofey, County Donegal. When
Finn Harps play against each other, the game is usually
referred to as a 'North-West Derby'. There have been cup competitions
between I.F.A. and F.A.I. clubs, most recently the Setanta Sports Cup.
In Rugby union, the professional rugby team representing the province
and the IRFU
Ulster Rugby, compete in the
with teams from Wales, Scotland, Italy, South Africa and the other
Irish Provinces (Leinster,
Munster and Connacht). They also compete in
Europe's main club rugby tournament, the European Rugby Champions Cup,
which they won (as the Heineken Cup) back in 1999. Notable Ulster
rugby players include Willy John McBride,
Jack Kyle and Mike Gibson.
The former is the most capped British and Irish Lion of all time,
having completed four tours with the Lions in the sixties and
seventies. At international level players from
Ulster join with those
from the other 3 provinces to form the Irish national team. They do
not sing the Irish national anthem but do sing a special song which
has been written celebrating the "4 proud provinces" before matches
Cricket is also played in Ulster, especially in
Northern Ireland and
Golf is, however, by far the most high-profile sport and the sport
Ulster has succeeded at more than any other.
Ulster has produced
many great players over the years, from Fred Daly winning The Open
Championship in 1947 at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake to most
Rory McIlroy winning the US Open and
Darren Clarke winning
The Open Championship in 2011.
Ulster also has another Major winner in
Graeme McDowell, who also won the US Open in 2010.
In horse racing, specifically National Hunt,
Ulster has produced the
most dominant jockey of all time, Tony McCoy.
The Circuit of
Ireland Rally is an annual automobile rally held in
Ulster since 1931.
Braidwood, J. 1964.
Ulster Dialects, An Introductory Symposium Ulster
Northern Ireland portal
Kings of Ulster
Plantations of Ireland
Culture of Ulster
Red Hand of Ulster
^ Challoner, Richard. A Memorial of Ancient British Piety: or, a
British Martyrology, p. 128. W. Needham, 1761. Accessed 14 March 2013.
^ "Table 1. Population of each Province, County and City and actual
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Northern Ireland Dr Clifford
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as the official English name and "Ulaidh" as the official Irish name
of the province, citing "Ordnance Survey Office,
Dublin 1993" as its
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2005. ISBN 0-85640-764-X
^ Seán Duffy; Brian Boru and the Battle of Clontarf, page 26. Gill
& Macmillan, 2014. ISBN 978-0-7171-6207-9
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Illustrations of History, Ethnology, and Geography". Macmillan &
Co. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
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History Circle. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
^ County Down, A Topographical Dictionary of
^ "Publications". 26 March 2018 – via Google Books.
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Ulster Surnames, page 180. The Blackstaff
Press, 2003. ISBN 0-85640-602-3
^ "the definition of Ulster". Dictionary.com.
^ a b Melaugh, Dr Martin. "CAIN: Glossary of Terms on Northern Ireland
Ulster Facts, information, pictures Encyclopedia.com articles
about Ulster. Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved on 23 July 2013.
^ Evans-Pritchard, Ambrose (7 April 2009). "
Ireland imposes emergency
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^ "Community Background", 2011 Census, for NI, and "Religion", 2011
Census, for RoI
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 October 2014.
Retrieved 6 October 2014.
^ "DERRY-SLIGO TRAIN LINK "RAILED OUT"
Derry Daily". Retrieved 26
^ a b
Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency Census 2001
^ Melaugh, Dr Martin. "CAIN: Key Issue: Language: Pritchard, R.M.O.
(2004) Protestants and the Irish Language: Historical Heritage and
Current Attitudes in Northern Ireland." cain.ulst.ac.uk.
^ Gregg, R. J. (1972). "The Scotch-Irish Dialect Boundaries in
Ulster". In Wakelin, Martyn F. (ed). Patterns in the Folk Speech of
the British Isles. London: Athlone Press.
ISBN 0-485-11128-4. CS1 maint: Extra text: editors list
^ Riordain, S. O. (1966). Antiquities of the Irish Countryside.
University Paperbacks (reprint ed.). London: Methuen & Co.
^ a b Stewart, A. T. Q. (1989). The Narrow Ground: The Roots of
Ulster (Rev. ed.). London: Faber and Faber Ltd.
p. 38. ISBN 0-571-15485-9.
^ a b Falls, Cyril (1996). The Birth of Ulster. London: Constable and
Company Ltd. pp. 156–157. ISBN 0-09-476610-X.
^ a b Perceval-Maxwell, M. (1999). The Scottish Migration to
the Reign of James I. Belfast:
Ulster Historical Foundation.
p. 89. ISBN 0-901905-44-5.
^ T. A. Jackson, p. 51.
^ Wars and Conflicts –
Plantation of Ulster
Plantation of Ulster – English and Scottish
Planters – 1641 Rebellion BBC History
^ Davies, John (1890). Morley, Henry, ed. A Discovery of the True
Ireland Was Never Entirely Subdued Nor Brought Under
Obedience of the Crown of England Until the Beginning of His Majesty's
Happy Reign. London: George Routledge and Sons, Ltd.
^ BBC Short History
^ Harris, Tim (2006). Revolution: The Great Crisis of the British
Monarchy, 1685–1720. London: Allen Lane. p. 440.
^ Magennis, Eoin (1998). "A 'Beleaguered Protestant'?: Walter Harris
and the Writing of Fiction Unmasked in Mid-18th-Century Ireland".
Eighteenth-Century Ireland. 13: 6–111. Retrieved 16 March
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Princeton University Press. p. 279.
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Media. 11 July 2004. Retrieved 6 June 2008.
^ Deane, C.D. 1983. The
Ulster Countryside. p.81 Century Books
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Ireland. Third edition. Institute of Irish Studies, The Queen's
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Deane, C. Douglas (1983). The
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Institute of Irish Studies, The Queen's University of Belfast
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ulster.
Census 2011 –
Irish language stats
"Inconvenient Peripheries: Ethnic Identity and the United Kingdom
Estate" (PDF). (96.8 KB) The cases of "Protestant
Ulster" and Cornwall, by Professor Philip Payton
Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ulster". Encyclopædia Britannica
(11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Counties of Ireland
The counties are listed per province
Italics denote non-administrative counties.
Brackets denote non-traditional counties.
†denotes non-administrative counties of Northern Ireland
Coordinates: 54°24′N 7°00′W / 54.4°N 7.0°W