County Leitrim

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County Leitrim
Irish: Contae Liatroma
Republic of Ireland
Glencar waterfall01.jpg
Glencar Waterfall, Glencar Lough
County Leitrim
[Interactive map]
Province: Connaught
Area: 613 square miles
Population: 31,798
County seat: Leitrim

The County of Leitrim is a shire in the Republic of Ireland, belonging to the Province of Connaught. It is named after the village of Leitrim. The population of the county is 31,798 according to the 2011 census.[1]


Leitrim is the 26th largest of the 32 counties by area and the smallest by population on the island.[2] It is the smallest of Connaught’s five counties in both size and population. Leitrim is bordered by the counties of Donegal to the north, Fermanagh to the north-east, Cavan to the east, Longford to the south, Roscommon to the south-west and Sligo to the west. Fermanagh is in Northern Ireland while all the other neighbouring counties are within the Republic.

The townlands of Edercloon[3] and Clooneen (Shanly)[4] form two distinct detached parts of the county locally situate in the county of Longford.


There are five baronies in the county. They are Carrigallen, Drumahaire, Leitrim, Mohill and Rosclogher.[5]

Largest towns

  1. Carrick-on-Shannon, 3,980
  2. Manorhamilton, 1,336
  3. Ballinamore, 889
  4. Kinlough, 1,018
  5. Mohill, 928

Towns & villages in north Leitrim

A tour boat on Lough Gill. One of the many lakes in County Leitrim.
The ruins of Creevelea Friary, near Dromahair.
A typical country lane near Carrigallen.

Towns & villages in south Leitrim

Civil parishes


Leitrim has a hilly and mountainous landscape in its north-west and is relatively flat in the south-east, each separated from the other by Lough Allen in the middle of the county. Leitrim has the shortest length of coastline of any Irish county that touches the sea. At Tullaghan, the coastline is only 1½ miles long.[6] The Shannon is linked to the Erne via the Shannon-Erne Waterway. Notable lakes include:


Leitrim countryside.

In ancient times Leitrim formed the western half of the Kingdom of Breifne. This region was long influenced by the O'Rourke family of Dromahair, whose heraldic lion occupies the official county shield to this day. Close ties initially existed with the O'Reilly clan in the eastern half of the kingdom, however a split occurred in the 13th century and the kingdom was divided into East Breifne, now County Cavan, and West Breifne, now County Leitrim. The Normans invaded in the 13th century and occupied the south of Breifne. Much of the county was confiscated from its owners in 1620 and given to Villiers and Hamilton. Their initial objective was to plant the county with English settlers. However, this proved unsuccessful. English Deputy Sir John Perrot had ordered the legal establishment of "Leitrim County" a half-century prior, in 1565. Perrott also demarked the current county borders around 1583. Five forests are traditionally said to have stood in Leitrim up till the 17th century.

Leitrim was first hit by the recession caused by the mechanisation of linen weaving in the 1830s and its 155,000 residents (as of the 1841 census) were ravaged by the Great Famine and the population dropped to 112,000 by 1851. The population subsequently continued to decrease due to emigration. After many years, the wounds of such rapid population decline have finally started to heal. Agriculture improved over the last century. Leitrim now has the fastest growing population in Connaught.

Working of the county's rich deposits of iron ore began in the 15th century and continued until the mid 18th century. Coal mining became prominent in the 19th century to the east of Lough Allen in Sliabh an Iariann and also to the west in Arigna, on the Roscommon border. The last coal mine closed in July 1990 and there is now a visitor centre.[7] Sandstone was also quarried in the Glenfarne region. William Butler Yeats spent the turn of the twentieth century fascinated with Lough Allen and much of Leitrim. In the north-west, seven miles from Manorhamilton can be found Glencar Waterfall, which was an inspiration to Yeats and is mentioned in his poem The Stolen Child.


The Stone bridge at Drumsna that connects the counties of Leitrim and Roscommon.
  • Leitrim has the fastest growing population of any county in Connaught. As measured by census, the population rose by 12.2% between 2002 and 2006 to 29,000.[8]
  • 2005 HEA statistics identified that Leitrim has the highest rate of participation in higher education in the Republic with 75% of 17-19 year olds being admitted to a higher course.[9]
  • The county town is Carrick-on-Shannon (3,505 inhabitants).[10] It is a highly developed, prospering river port on the River Shannon and many tourists hire cruising boats here to explore the Shannon and the Shannon-Erne Waterway — a 39-mile canal linking the two river systems. It is amongst the fastest growing towns in Ireland having grown by 25% in the past few years.[11]


Bridge in Carrick-on-Shannon.
  • Supplementing the local and regional road networks are the N15 (Sligo-Leitrim-Donegal), N16 (Sligo-Leitrim-Enniskillen) and N4 (Sligo-Leitrim-Dublin) national roads.
  • Railway stations in Leitrim on the Dublin to Sligo line include Dromod and Carrick-on-Shannon.
  • The Cavan and Leitrim Railway opened on 17 October 1887. It consisted of two branches, meeting at Ballinamore which connected Dromod and Arigna with Belturbet. Services carried goods, passengers and coal from around Lough Allen. Although protested, the line finally closed on 31 March 1959.
  • Railway stations in Leitrim on the former Sligo, Sligo-Enniskillen Railway included Dromahair, Manorhamilton and Glenfarne.
  • The Shannon and Shannon-Erne Waterway give access to much of Leitrim by boat.


  • Katherine Lynch - comedienne.
  • John McGahern - author.
  • Pat Quinn - founder of Quinnsworth.
  • Patrick McGoohan - actor.
  • Paul Williams - journalist.
  • Seán Mac Diarmada - Irish republican.
  • Thomas Heazle Parke - explorer, naturalist.
  • Patrick Rogan - US Army soldier and Medal of Honor recipient.
  • James Gralton - (17 April 1886–1945) was an Irish communist leader, who became a United States citizen after emigrating in 1909, and the only Irishman ever deported from Ireland. Born in Effrinagh


Outside links

Counties of the Republic of Ireland

Carlow • Cavan • Clare • Cork • Donegal • Dublin • Galway • Kerry • Kildare • Kilkenny • Laois • Leitrim • Limerick • Longford • Louth • Mayo • Meath • Monaghan • Offaly • Roscommon • Sligo • Tipperary • Waterford • Westmeath • Wexford • Wicklow