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County Leitrim

Contae Liatroma
Coat of arms of County Leitrim
Coat of arms
Location of County Leitrim
Country Ireland
Province Connacht
Dáil Éireann Sligo–Leitrim
EU Parliament Midlands–North-West
County town Carrick-on-Shannon
 • Type County Council
 • Total 1,590 km2 (610 sq mi)
Area rank 26th
 • Rank 32nd
Vehicle index
mark code

County Leitrim (pronounced LEE-trəm, Irish: Contae Liatroma) is a county in Ireland. It is in the province of Connacht and is part of the Border Region. It is named after the village of Leitrim. Founded in the early modern period, the county encompasses the historic Gaelic Ireland territory of West Bréifne corresponding to the northern part of the county, and Muintir Eolais or Conmaicne Réin, corresponding to the southern part. Leitrim County Council is the local authority for the county, which had a population of 31,972 according to the 2016 census.

Geography and political subdivisions

Leitrim is the 26th largest of the 32 counties by area and the smallest by population on the island. It is the smallest of Connacht’s 5 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.


There are five historic baronies in the county. While baronies continue to be officially defined units, they are no longer used for many administrative purposes. Their official status is illustrated by Placenames Orders made since 2003, where official Irish names of baronies are listed under "Administrative units". They are Carrigallen, Drumahaire, Leitrim, Mohill and Rosclogher.

Largest Towns in County Leitrim

As of the 2011 census:

  1. Carrick-on-Shannon, 3,314
  2. Manorhamilton, 1,336
  3. Kinlough, 1,018
  4. Mohill, 928
  5. Ballinamore, 889
  6. Drumshanbo, 857
  7. Dromahair, 748

Towns and villages in north Leitrim

Tour boat, Lough Gill
A tour boat on Lough Gill. One of the many lakes in County Leitrim.
Creevelea Friary S 2007 08 16
The ruins of Creevelea Friary, near Dromahair.
County lane at Clooncorick - - 1299048
A typical country lane near Carrigallen.
  • Allentown, County Leitrim
  • Askill
  • Ballinaglera
  • Buckode
  • Cloonsheerevagh
  • Drumkeeran
  • Dromahair
  • Dowra
  • Friarstown
  • Glenfarne
  • Glenade
  • Kiltyclogher
  • Kinlough
  • Killarga
  • Largydonnell
  • Lurganboy
  • Manorhamilton
  • Rossinver
  • Tullaghan

Towns and villages in south Leitrim

  • Aghamore
  • Ballinamore
  • Carrick-on-Shannon
  • Carrigallen
  • Cloone
  • Drumcong
  • Dromod
  • Drumshanbo
  • Drumsna
  • Fenagh
  • Eslinbridge
  • Jamestown
  • Keshcarrigan
  • Leitrim
  • Mohill
  • Newtowngore
  • Roosky


Glencar waterfall01
Glencar Waterfall at Glencar Lough

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 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) long. The Shannon is linked to the Erne via the Shannon-Erne Waterway. Notable lakes include:


Leitrim 03
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 demarcated the current county borders around 1583.

Long ago Ireland was covered in Woodland, and five great forests are traditionally said to have stood in Leitrim, with a 19th century county survey stating- “a hundred years ago almost the whole country was one continued, undivided forest, so that from Drumshanbo to Drumkeeran, a distance of nine or ten miles, one could travel the whole way from tree to tree by branches". Many of these great forests were denuded for the making for Charcoal for Iron works around Slieve Anierin. Writing in 1791, the geographer Beaufort suggested the county housing population encompassed 10,026 homes with "upwards of 50,000 inhabitants", the primary agriculture being cattle production, and the growth of flax sustaining the linen industry.

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 Connacht.

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 at Slieve Anierin 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. 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. Glencar Waterfall, 11 kilometres (7 mi) from Manorhamilton, inspired Yeats and is mentioned in his poem The Stolen Child.


Stone bridge at Drumsna
The Stone bridge at Drumsna that connects counties Leitrim and Roscommon.
  • Leitrim has the fastest growing population of any county in Connacht. As measured by census, the population rose by 12.2% between 2002 and 2006 to 29,000.
  • 2005 HEA statistics identified that Leitrim has the highest rate of participation in higher education in the Republic with 75% of 17- to 19-year-olds being admitted to a higher course.
  • The county town is Carrick-on-Shannon (population 3,314). 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 63 km canal linking the two river systems. It is amongst the fastest growing towns in Ireland having grown by 25% in the past few years.
Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1500 4,098 —    
1510 8,071 +96.9%
1550 12,443 +54.2%
1580 14,324 +15.1%
1585 7,162 −50.0%
1600 3,581 −50.0%
1610 2,988 −16.6%
1653 2,970 −0.6%
1659 4,275 +43.9%
1672 18,550 +333.9%
1725 47,100 +153.9%
1735 34,889 −25.9%
1755 28,950 −17.0%
1765 38,992 +34.7%
1771 37,801 −3.1%
1775 68,707 +81.8%
1781 94,201 +37.1%
1788 108,402 +15.1%
1790 116,804 +7.8%
1801 115,801 −0.9%
1811 120,783 +4.3%
1813 101,211 −16.2%
1821 124,783 +23.3%
1831 141,524 +13.4%
1841 155,297 +9.7%
1851 111,897 −27.9%
1861 104,744 −6.4%
1871 95,562 −8.8%
1881 90,372 −5.4%
1891 78,618 −13.0%
1901 69,343 −11.8%
1911 63,582 −8.3%
1926 55,907 −12.1%
1936 50,908 −8.9%
1946 44,591 −12.4%
1951 41,209 −7.6%
1956 37,056 −10.1%
1961 33,470 −9.7%
1966 30,572 −8.7%
1971 28,360 −7.2%
1979 27,844 −1.8%
1981 27,609 −0.8%
1986 27,035 −2.1%
1991 25,301 −6.4%
1996 25,057 −1.0%
2002 25,799 +3.0%
2006 28,950 +12.2%
2011 31,798 +9.8%
2016 31,972 +0.5%


Carrick-on-Shannon Bridge
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, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway (which ran between Sligo and Enniskillen) included Dromahair, Manorhamilton and Glenfarne.
  • The Shannon and Shannon-Erne Waterway give access to much of Leitrim by boat.


See also (related category): People from County Leitrim
  • Margaret Haughery - Philanthropist, Margaret of New Orleans, Angel of the Delta
  • Katherine Lynch - comedian.
  • 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 - Communist activist and only Irish person ever deported from independent Ireland.
  • John McDonald (of Dromod) - 19th century Irish nationalist poet.
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