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The Province of Ulster

Map Of Ulster

Ireland’s most Northern province is Ulster and its name derives from the Irish language Cúige Uladh which means “Province of the Ulaid”. The name was given by the Ulaid who were inhabitants of the area in ancient Ireland.

There are many legends associated with Ulster with lots existing before written records; such legends had been part of the Ulster Cycle. Records such as The Annals of Ulster described how the Vikings raided Bangor, Armagh and on churches located in Lough Erne.

The Vikings located their base in Lough Neagh in 839 and went onto plunder churches in the Northern section of Ireland and in 852 the Dublin Norse attacked Armagh. Battles became common between the Norse, the Danes and the Kings of Ulster and it was 866 when the king of Uí Néill (O'Neill) dynasty, Áed Finnliath, defeated the Vikings. The Uí Néill’s powered the province of Ulster and was based from Tír Eóghain (Eoghan's Country, now known as County Tyrone).

During the 12th Century, after the Normans invaded Ireland, the east of Ulster fell to the Normans. Hugh De la lacy established the Earldom of Ulster and was based around the areas of Antrim & down. Resistance in Ulster remained strong and near the end of the 15th Century the Earldom of Ulster had collapsed and the province became the only area in Ireland that was not under control of the English.

The English regained control of Ulster after the battle of Kinsale (1594-1603) which led the O'Neills and O'Donnells clans to flee to other parts of Europe, this was known as the Flight of the Earls.

It must be noted. Before Ireland was partitioned into the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in the 1920’s Ulster was made up of nine counties, today it is legally recognised with only six counties.

Counties of Ulster

Antrim (Aontroim), Armagh (Ard Mhacha), Down (An Dún), Fermanagh (Fear Manach), Derry (Doire), Tyrone (Tír Eoghain), Cavan (An Cabhán), Donegal (Dún na nGall), Monaghan (Muineachán).

List of Ulster Castles

Carrickfergus Castle
One of the best castle strongholds in Ireland was built in 1180 by John de Courcy who had previously invaded and over powered Eastern part of the Ulster province.

Dunluce Castle
A very remarkable castle located in County Antrim of Ulster dates back to the 16th – 17th century. Its located a sheer cliff edge 100ft above the ocean.


Recommended books on Castles, available from Amazon.

Medieval Castles of Ireland
Great Irish Houses & Castles
If Walls Could Talk: Great Irish Castles Tell Their Stories
Castles in Ireland: Feudal Power in a Gaelic World