Provinces of Ireland
|Provinces of Ireland|
During late Celtic and early historic times Ireland was divided into provinces to replace the earlier system of the tuatha .
The four provinces are;
Originally there were five provinces but over the course of time the smallest one, Meath, was absorbed into Leinster. During Ireland's golden age these counties were little more than loosely federated kingdoms with somewhat flexible boundaries, but in modern times they have become associated with groups of specific counties though have no legal status.
The provinces would be supplanted by the present system of counties after the Norman occupation in the twelfth century. The Irish word for province, "cúige", means "fifth", reflecting the original division.