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The modern County of Fingal (Contae Fhine Gall), created by Local Government Actsof 1993 and 2001, is one of four administrative divisions of the old County Dublin, now known as the Dublin Region.
It covers the coastal area north of the City of Dublin along the Irish Sea and south of the River Delvin to the River Liffey, and is bordered by Co. Meath, Co. Kildare and South Dublin County.
Known to the Vikings as Dyflinarskiri – “the hinterland of Dublin”, Fingal derived its name from the Irish Fionn Gall, meaning fair strangers, denoting the Norse (as opposed to Dubh Gall, meaning black / dark foreigners, denoting the Danes, identified with the area south of Dublin). Early Norman versions of the name include Fiehengall, Fynnegal, Fyngal, and Finegal, leading to confusion with Fine Gall, meaning Foreign Tribe.
The Lordship of Fingal in the County of Dublin was confirmed in 1208 by letters patent from King John to Walter de Lacy and his heirs in perpetuity. As a Prescriptive Barony with paramount superiority over several sub-infeudated smaller baronies (e.g. Castleknock, Santry, Balrothery, and later Finglas, Feltrim, Howth, Shankill and Swords), it accrued vicecomital attributes leading to the granting of the first viscountcy in Ireland in 1478 to the 4th Baron Gormanston, Robert Preston (1435-1503), a direct descendant of Walter de Lacy and former occupant of the Manor of Fyngallestoun. Successive Prestons have retained the title of Viscount Gormanston to this day, but the titular prescriptive barony of Fingal, an incorporeal hereditament in gross, was passed to the late Patrick Denis O’Donnell.
Until the mid-C19th many locals spoke the now extinct language of Fingalian, a hybrid of Old English and Old Norse with Gaelic influences.
Fingal is Ireland’s primary horticultural region, producing 50% of the national vegetable output and 75% of all glasshouse crops grown in the country However, the areas of production are coming under severe pressure from other development and the rural towns are increasingly becoming dormitories for the City of Dublin.