County identities – are they exclusively Irish ? Descendants of Irish emigrants through three, four and even more generations regularly bond with the birth counties of their ancestors. Competition at the top level of Ireland’s national sports of Gaelic football and hurling is structured on inter-county rivalry. Start imagining the FA Cup in England being competed for on an inter-shire basis and you will see how different we are.

The formation of counties in Ireland was initiated by King John in the late 12th century when he divided parts of Leinster and Munster into twelve shires or counties. It concluded in 1607 with the re-alignment of parts of South Dublin and North Carlow to form the county of Wicklow