As one of the most overlooked provinces in Ireland, chances are that there are many fascinating facts about Connacht you never knew.
Connacht is one of the four provinces of Ireland and is located in the country’s western region. Connacht sadly seems to be the most overlooked province in Ireland, which is a shame as it has such a rich history and culture.
From having the largest island in Ireland to plenty of Irish-speaking areas and from being the home of Ireland’s famous pirate queen to possessing the country’s only true fjord at Killary Harbour, many fascinating facts about Connacht are just waiting to be discovered!
This article will reveal the top ten fascinating facts about Connacht you never knew.
10. Great things come in small packages – Connacht is the smallest province in Ireland
Connacht is the smallest of the four provinces of Ireland in both sheer size and population.
9. Connacht is comprised of five counties – the fantastic five
The province of Connacht comprises five counties: County Leitrim, County Mayo, County Galway, County Roscommon, and County Sligo.
8. Gaelic football and hurling are the most popular sports in Connacht – Ireland’s ancient sporting pastimes
The ancient Irish sports of Gaelic football and hurling are easily the most popular sports in Connacht.
212 Gaelic Athletic Association-affiliated clubs operate throughout the province.
7. Connacht was once made up of many independent major Gaelic kingdoms – a fractured region
Until the ninth century, Connacht was comprised of several independent major Gaelic kingdoms.
The include the Uí Maine, Iar Connacht, and the Lúighne.
6. The kingdom of Connacht collapsed in the 13th century – the fallout of a chaotic civil war
After Connacht had become a United Kingdom, it lasted for hundreds of years until a civil war within the royal dynasty caused it to collapse.
Later, throughout the 16th century, King James I of England brought the province under direct rule.
5. The name Connacht derives from the medieval ruling dynasty – an ancient name
The name Connacht derives from the medieval ruling dynasty, the Connacht, later known as the Connachta, which means the ‘descendants of Conn’ in English.
4. Connacht today has the most significant number of Irish speakers in Ireland – Ireland’s native tongue
Today Connacht has the highest number of Irish language speakers in Ireland out of any province, with 39.8% of the people of Connacht (approximately 202,000 people) considering themselves Irish speakers.
You can find numerous Irish-speaking areas all over the province. According to a 2016 census, Irish is spoken on a daily basis by over 200,000 people throughout the province.
3. Connacht possesses Ireland’s only true fjord – one of a kind
Connacht is the only province in Ireland that can claim to possess a true fjord.
You can find it at Killary Harbour, at the foot of Mweelrea at the Connemara National Park in County Galway.
2. Much of Connacht is regarded as being quite inhospitable – an unforgiving environment
A large area of the land on the west coast of Connacht is considered quite inhospitable and not conducive for agriculture as it tends to be quite rugged and mountainous.
It is home to many famous mountainous areas, including Croagh Patrick, Nephin Beg, the Twelve Bens, Mweelrea, and the Maumturks.
1. The Famine decimated the population of Connacht – the most terrible tragedy in Irish history
In first place on our list of top ten fascinating facts about Connacht you never knew is that before the Great Famine of the 1840s, Connacht had a population of approximately 1.4 million people.
However, after the tragedy of the Famine, which caused untold levels of death and emigration, it dropped rapidly. As of the 2016 census, the population was at just 550,000.
There is only one official city in Connacht: The only official city in the province of Connacht is Galway city.
Connacht GAA success in County Galway: Galway is the most successful football team in Connacht GAA football, having won at least nine All-Ireland Senior Football Championship at national level.
The inland areas of Connacht have a greater population density than their counterparts: The inland areas of Connacht have historically enjoyed a greater population density thanks to the fact that they tend to have better infrastructure and agricultural land.
Plenty of lakes in Connacht: Lough Corrib in County Galway is the biggest lake in Connacht. Other lakes include Lough Mask, Lough Melvin, Lough Allen, and Lough Gill.
Iconic residents: Pirate queen Grace O’Malley hailed from County Mayo in Connacht. Writer William Butler Yeats also hailed from Connacht, in County Sligo. Medical pioneer William Cunningham Blest was also born in County Sligo. Dramatist Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory hailed from County Galway.
Anglicised spelling: Connacht is the Anglicised spelling of the province name. Meanwhile, in Gaelic, they spell it Connaught.
The Aran Islands: The iconic Aran Islands, home to the famous Dún Aonghasa and various other enigmatic artefacts and prehistoric forts, is a regular tourist destination off the coast of County Galway.
You can find the largest island in Ireland in Connacht: The largest island in Connacht and Ireland is Achill Island in County Mayo.
FAQs about the facts about Connacht you never knew
What is the population of Connacht?
The population of Connacht as of the 2016 census was 550,742.
Is Connacht a good province to visit?
Yes, Connacht is a great province to visit. Thanks to its beautiful scenery and unforgettable cultural experiences, Connacht proves to be a regular tourist destination.
How big is Connacht?
At 17,711 sq km (6,838 sq mi), Connacht is the smallest of the four provinces of Ireland.
That concludes our list of top ten most fascinating facts about Connacht you never knew. Were you aware of these facts already, and are there any other facts you think deserve a place on our list?