Irish Name: Liath Dhroim: "Grey Ridge"
County Town: Carrick-on-Shannon
Nickname: Lovely Leitrim
GAA Colors: Green and Gold
Famous People with Leitrim roots: Patrick McGoohan (actor, spent childhood years in parish of Drumreilly), James Cagney (actor, with Leitrim connections on both sides), Sean MacDiarmada (leader in 1916 Easter Rising, born in Leitrim), Eurovision winner Charlie McGettigan
County Leitrim is one of the traditional counties of Ireland and is located within the province of Connacht. It was named after the town of Leitrim.
Leitrim is the 26th largest of Ireland’s 32 counties in area and smallest in terms of population. It is the smallest of Connacht’s 5 counties in both size and population.
In ancient times Leitrim formed the western half of the Kingdom of Breifne. This region was long influenced by the O'Rourke family of Dromahair, whose heraldic lion occupies the official county crest to this day. Close ties initially existed with East Breifne, now County Cavan, and the O'Reilly clan seated there. The Normans invaded in the 13th century and occupied the south of Breifne. Much of the county was confiscated from its owners in 1620 and given to Villiers and Hamilton. Their initial objective was to plant the county with English settlers.
However, this proved unsuccessful. British Deputy Sir John Perrot had ordered the legal establishment of "Leitrim County" a half-century prior, in 1565. Perrott also demarked the current county borders around 1583. Five forests are traditionally said to have stood in Leitrim up till the 17th century.
Leitrim was first hit by the recession caused by the mechanisation of [linen] weaving in the 1830's and its 155,000 residents (as of the 1841 census) were ravaged by the Great Famine and the population dropped to 112,000 by 1851. The population subsequently continued to decrease due to emigration. After many years, the wounds of such rapid population decline have finally started to heal. Agriculture improved over the last century. Leitrim now has the fastest growing population in Connacht.
Working of the county's rich deposits of iron ore began in the 15th century and continued until the mid 18th century. Coal mining became prominent in the 19th century to the east of Lough Allen in Sliabh an Iariann and also to the west in Arigna, on the Roscommon border. The last coal mine closed in July 1990 and there is now a visitor centre. Sandstone was also quarried in the Glenfarne region. William Butler Yeats spent the turn of the twentieth century fascinated with Lough Allen and much of Leitrim. In the northwest, 11 km from Manorhamilton can be found Glencar Waterfall, which was an inspiration to Yeats and is mentioned in his poem The Stolen Child.
Leitrim has a dramatic hilly and mountainous landscape in its northwest and is relatively flat in the southeast, each separated from the other by Lough Allen in the middle of the county. It is an unspoiled, tranquil area of great natural beauty, consisting of lofty mountains, deep valleys, pastures, lakes, rolling hills and rivers. Leitrim is not a landlocked county as it has a short length of Atlantic where Tullaghan lies. Coastline (5 km) between Sligo and Donegal in the northwest.
Neighbouring Leitrim are the Ulster counties of Donegal to the north, Fermanagh to the northeast, and Cavan to the east, the Leinster county of Longford to the south and, to the west, the Connacht counties of Roscommon and Sligo. Fermanagh is in Northern Ireland while all the other neighbouring counties are within the Republic. Leitrim offers scenic panoramic vistas of Lough Allen and the River Shannon. The Shannon is linked to the Erne via the Shannon-Erne Waterway.
Common Leitrim surnames: Reynolds, O'Rourke, Rooney, McGowan, Flynn, Kelly, Gallagher, Moran, Dolan, McLoughlin, McMorrow