2.1 Geographical Terms

From the Republic of Ireland perspective, the island of Ireland, and the country comprising most of its area, are both officially known as “Ireland”, while in Northern Ireland there is no universally agreed terminology for the different geographic bodies in the island of Ireland. As this is certain to cause confusion in an atlas of this kind, we have elected to use the expressions “Republic of Ireland (RoI)” and “Northern Ireland (NI)” for the two jurisdictions on the island and to refer to both of these areas as “countries”. The combined area of the whole island (and the offshore islands) is referred to in the text simply as “Ireland”. None of this implies anything concerning the official status of these names.

For administrative purposes, RoI is divided into 27 counties (including Tipperary North and South) (Map 2.1). Counties with large urban areas are further divided into “city” and “county” areas (three of the latter in the case of Dublin), giving a total of 34 large administrative areas. Small area population statistics are available at the level of electoral division (ED), of which there are approximately 3,500.

NI has six counties and is also divided into 26 district councils—four city councils (Armagh, Belfast, Derry and Lisburn), 13 Borough Councils and 9 District Councils (Map 2.1). Small area population statistics are available at the level of ward, of which there are approximately 580. District councils in NI therefore have smaller populations on average than counties in RoI, while NI wards have an average population size greater than RoI electoral divisions (see section 2.2.4). Mapping and statistical analysis in this atlas is based almost exclusively on data at the ward/ED level.

A number of other geographical entities are also referred to in the atlas—these include health board areas, health service regions, provinces and planning regions. These are described in Appendix table A4.1.

Map 2.2 shows, for reference, the outlines of counties in RoI and District Councils in NI with some towns and cities. 

Map 2.1 Counties and district councils

Map 2.2 Locations

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