A further exception occurs in the case of those counties created after which often drop the word county entirely, or use it after the name; thus for example internet search engines show many more uses on Irish sites of " Fingal " than of either "County Fingal" or "Fingal County". There appears to be no official guidance in the matter, as even the local council uses all three forms. The synonym shire is not used for Irish counties, although the Marquessate of Downshire was named in after County Down. Parts of some towns and cities were exempt from the jurisdiction of the counties that surrounded them.
These towns and cities had the status of a County corporate , many granted by Royal Charter, which had all the judicial, administrative and revenue raising powers of the regular counties. The political geography of Ireland can be traced with some accuracy from the 6th century. At that time Ireland was divided into a patchwork of petty kingdoms with a fluid political hierarchy which, in general, had three traditional grades of king. There may have been as many as 20 genuine ruiri in Ireland at any time. Later record-makers dubbed them provinces , in imitation of Roman provinces.
In the Norman period, the historic fifths of Leinster and Meath gradually merged, mainly due to the impact of the Pale , which straddled both, thereby forming the present-day province of Leinster.
The use of provinces as divisions of political power was supplanted by the system of counties after the Norman invasion. In modern times clusters of counties have been attributed to certain provinces but these clusters have no legal status. They are today seen mainly in a sporting context, as Ireland's four professional rugby teams play under the names of the provinces, and the Gaelic Athletic Association has separate Provincial councils and Provincial championships.
With the arrival of Cambro-Norman knights in , the Norman invasion of Ireland commenced. After his intervention in Ireland, Henry II effectively divided the English colony into liberties also known as lordships. These were effectively palatine counties and differed from ordinary counties in that they were disjoined from the crown and that whoever they were granted to essentially had the same authority as the king and that the king's writ had no effect except a writ of error.
Of Henry II's grants, at least three of them— Leinster to Richard de Clare; Meath to Walter de Lacy ; Ulster to John de Courcy —were equivalent to palatine counties in their bestowing of royal jurisdiction to the grantees. These initial lordships were later subdivided into smaller "liberties", which appear to have enjoyed the same privileges as their predecessors.
However, they may have had an earlier origin.
The most important office in those that were palatine was that of seneschal. The exact boundaries of the liberties and shrievalties appears to have been in constant flux throughout the Plantagenet period, seemingly in line with the extent of English control. However the Bruce Invasion of Ireland in resulted in the collapse of effective English rule in Ireland, with the land controlled by the crown continually shrinking to encompass Dublin, and parts of Meath, Louth and Kildare.
The Earls of Ulster divided their territory up into counties; however, these are not considered part of the Crown's shiring of Ireland. With the passing of liberties to the Crown, the number of Counties of the Cross declined, and only one, Tipperary, survived into the Stuart era; the others had ceased to exist by the reign of Henry VIII. It was not until the Tudors, specifically the reign of Henry VIII —47 , that crown control started to once again extend throughout Ireland. Mary's reign saw the first addition of actual new counties since the reign of King John.
However, his administrative reign in Ireland was cut short, and it was not until the reign of Mary's successor, Elizabeth, that this legislation was re-adopted. Under Elizabeth, Radclyffe was brought back to implement it. Sydney during his three tenures as Lord Deputy created two presidencies to administer Connaught and Munster. In an attempt to reduce the importance of the province of Munster, Sydney, using the River Shannon as a natural boundary took the former kingdom of Thomond North Munster and made it into the county of Clare as part of the presidency of Connaught in However, nothing came to bear.
In the go-ahead was given for turning the districts of the Byrnes and O'Tooles into the county of Wicklow. However, with the outbreak of war in Munster and then Ulster, they resumed their independence. Perrot would be most remembered for shiring the only province of Ireland that remained effectively outside of English control, that of Ulster.
Around near the end of Elizabeth's reign, Clare was made an entirely distinct presidency of its own under the Earls of Thomond and would not return to being part of Munster until after the Restoration in Throughout the Elizabethan era and the reign of her successor James I, the exact boundaries of the provinces and the counties they consisted of remained uncertain. Perrot's divisions in Ulster were for the main confirmed by a series of inquisitions between and that settled the demarcation of the counties of Connaught and Ulster.
Tipperary would remain an anomaly being in effect two counties, one palatine, the other of the Cross until during the reign of King George I where an act abolished the "royalties and liberties of the County of Tipperary" and "that whatsoever hath been denominated or called Tipperary or Cross Tipperary, shall henceforth be and remain one county for ever, under the name of the County of Tipperary.
To correspond with the subdivisions of the English shires into honours or baronies , Irish counties were granted out to the Anglo-Norman noblemen in cantreds , later known as baronies , which in turn were subdivided, as in England, into parishes. Parishes were composed of townlands.
However, in many cases, these divisions correspond to earlier, pre-Norman, divisions. While there are  baronies in Ireland, and more than a thousand civil parishes , there are around sixty thousand townlands that range in size from one to several thousand hectares. Townlands were often traditionally divided into smaller units called quarters , but these subdivisions are not legally defined. Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings. If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences.
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