What with ancient tuatha, cuigí, provinces, counties, shires, Englishries, ridings, baronies, cantreds, townlands, quarters, municipalities, boroughs, dioceses, parishes, constituencies, zones etc, Ireland has had more than enough territorial divisions, yet bureaucrats and tourism executives insist on marketing more. Examples include the Sunny South East and Ballyhoura Country; the prize for the silliest idea goes to whoever came up with the Irish Riviera.
That said, we have to admit that some parts of the country are exceptionally interesting, historic, beautiful, exciting, inspiring or special in some way. Of these, several overlap.
Many of the areas we had in mind do not fall within single county boundaries. We rejected the 4 Provinces as criteria, and decided that using parts of them (South Ulster, Oir Connacht, Thomond etc.) would not work either. We argued about ancient and medieval territories (Breifne, Ely, Ossory, Muskerry, Decies, Carbery etc.) and also looked at Geological zones. We finally decided not to worry about definitions, and simply to go by the compass. Adjusting for the historical and cultural reality of Northern Ireland, this worked reasonably well, as follows:
In the North (Co. Derry, Co. Tyrone, parts of Co. Fermanagh) –
In the Northeast (Co. Antrim, Co. Armagh, Co. Down) –
In the East (Co. Louth, eastern Co. Meath, Co. Dublin, Co. Wicklow and eastern Co. Kildare) –
In the Southeast (Co. Carlow, Co. Kilkenny, Co. Wexford, most of Co. Waterford. parts of ) –
In the South (parts of Co. Tipperary Co. Waterford and Co. Cork,Co.) –
In the Southwest (Co. Kerry, parts of Co. Cork and Co. Limerick) –
In the West (Co. Mayo, the western parts of Co. Clare, Co. Galway and Co. Roscommon ) –
In the Northwest (Co. Donegal, parts of Co. Mayo, Co. Sligo, Co. Leitrim, Co. Cavan and Co. Fermanagh) –
In the Midlands (Co. Longford, Co. Monaghan, Co. Westmeath, Co. Offaly, Co. Laois, and parts of adjoining counties) –
However, even these broad divisions seemed arbitrary to us, and left several places (notably Limerick City & Environs) in limbo.