County Wicklow

County Wicklow
County Wicklow
Contae Chill Mhantáin

Coat of arms
Motto: Meanma Saor  (Irish)
"Free Spirits"
Country Ireland
Province Leinster
Dáil Éireann Wicklow
EU Parliament East
County seat Wicklow
 – Type County Council
 – Total 2,024 km2 (781.5 sq mi)
Area rank 17th
Population (2011) 136,448
 – Rank 15th
Car plates WW

County Wicklow (Irish: Contae Chill Mhantáin, [ˈkɔnˠt̪ˠeː ˈçɪl̪ʲ ˈwanˠt̪ˠaːnʲ]) is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Mid-East Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Wicklow, which derives from the Old Norse name Víkingalág or Wykynlo. Wicklow County Council is the local authority for the county. The population of the county is 136,448 according to the 2011 census.[1]


Geography and political subdivisions

Wicklow is colloquially known as the Garden County.[8] It is the 17th largest of Ireland’s 32 counties by area and 17th largest by population.[9] It is the fourth largest of Leinster’s 12 counties by size and the fifth largest in terms of population.

Towns and villages

Physical geography

Geology and mountains

The Wicklow Mountains range is the largest continuous upland region in Ireland. The highest mountain in the range, Lugnaquilla, rises to 925 metres, making Wicklow the second highest county peak after Kerry. The Wicklow Way is the oldest waymarked long distance walking trail in Ireland, and the area is a popular attraction, as the region offers multiple choices of recreation including fishing, rafting and hillwalking. Also in its midst lies the monastic settlement of Glendalough, believed to have been founded by St. Kevin, and now a popular tourist attraction; as well as Powerscourt Waterfall, the highest waterfall in Ireland.

Wicklow Gap

The mountainous area is formed in the main by granite, with a marginal zone of micraschist produced by the contact of Silurian strata, which extends from Shillelagh to the sea north of Bray with the peak of Lugnaquilla its highest elevation.

The Coast

The coast runs down the eastern side of the county and extends for 60km, from Bray to Arklow. It consists of a series of sweeping shallow bays with sandy beaches, often backed by formations of sand dunes, notably at Brittas Bay. The principal headlands are Wicklow Head, Ardmore Point, Bray Head and Mizen Head, not to be confused with the better known headland in County Cork. Bray Head is unusual in Ireland being crossed by a national railway line running just above sheer cliffs. It has had to be adjusted or realigned several times due to coastal erosion.


Rivers in Wicklow include the Avoca, the Liffey and the River Vartry which flows through the Devil's Glen to its mouth north of Wicklow town. The confluence of the rivers Avonmore and Avonbeg is locally known as "the meeting of the waters"; the combined entity, now known as the River Avoca, collects the waters of the River Aughrim before discharging into the Irish Sea at Arklow. The River Slaney is in the western part of the county, bordering County Carlow. The Turlough Hill pumped-storage scheme, a significant civil engineering project, was carried out in the mountains in the 1960s and 1970s. Ireland's first offshore wind farm is located off the coast at Arklow Bank. The lakes are small but numerous, located mainly in mountain valleys or glacial corries. They include Lough Dan, Lough Tay, Lough Brae, the lakes of Glendalough as well as the Poulaphouca reservoir (the largest by volume).


Saint Kevin's monastery at Glendalough.

County Wicklow was the last of the traditional counties of Ireland to be shired in 1606 from land previously part of counties Dublin and Carlow. Established as a distinct county, it was aimed at controlling local groups such as the O'Byrnes. The Military Road, stretching from Rathfarnham to Aghavannagh crosses the mountains, north to south, was built by the British army to assist them in defeating the rebels still active in the Wicklow Mountains following the failed 1798 rebellion. It provided them with access to an area that had been a hotbed of Irish rebellion for centuries. Several barracks to house the soldiers were built along the route and the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation was built alongside the remains of barracks there. Battalions of the Irish Army use firing ranges in County Wicklow for tactical exercises, especially the largest one in the Glen of Imaal which was previously used by the British Army prior to independence. The ancient monastery of Glendalough is located in County Wicklow. During the Cromwellian invasion of Ireland, local authorities immediately surrendered without a fight. During the 1798 rebellion, some of the insurgents took refuge in the Wicklow Mountains, resulting in clashes between British troops and the troops commanded by Joseph Holt (1756-1826) near Aughrim and later at Arklow. A Military Road was built through the territory of the county to open it up to British troops for quick access to the Irish rebels in the Wicklow Mountains in the early 1800s.[10]

Local government and politics

The local government authority is Wicklow County Council which returns 24 councillors. The town of Bray has town council. For elections to Dáil Éireann, the entire county in included in the Wicklow constituency along with some eastern parts of County Carlow. The constituency elects five deputies to the Dáil.

Dáil Éireann deputies

TD Party
Andrew Doyle Fine Gael
Billy Timmins Fine Gael
Simon Harris Fine Gael
Anne Ferris Labour
Stephen Donnelly Non-Party

County Council councillors

Political Party Members
Fine Gael 9
Labour 6
Fianna Fáil 4
Sinn Féin 2
Others 3


Surrounding area west of Bray.

Mermaid, County Wicklow Arts Centre is based in Bray. Mermaid is the county's hub of artistic activity and creation, offering an extensive and ambitious programme across the art forms. Mermaid offers a strong visual arts programme, compelling theatre productions, opera, cutting edge dance performances, arthouse cinema, comedy and a diverse music programme.[11] Two of the county's most well respected festivals take place in Arklow, the Arklow music Festival and the Arklow Seabreeze Festival.

The county is a very popular film-making location in Ireland. Bray is home to Ardmore Studios, where many of Ireland's best known feature films, including John Boorman's Excalibur, Jim Sheridan's Oscar winning In the Name of the Father, and several Neil Jordan films, have been shot. The BBC series Ballykissangel was also filmed in County Wicklow. Scenes from the movie P.S. I Love You were shot in the Wicklow Mountains National Park while several scenes from other movies, from Barry Lyndon to Haywire, have been filmed in the county.[12]


  • The local radio station in Wicklow is East Coast FM.
  • Local newspapers include Wicklow Times and Wicklow People.

See also


  1. ^ Census 2006 - Population of each province, county and city
  2. ^ For 1653 and 1659 figures from Civil Survey Census of those years, Paper of Mr Hardinge to Royal Irish Academy March 14, 1865.
  3. ^ Census for post 1821 figures.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Northern Ireland Census of Population | Census Home Page
  6. ^ Lee, JJ (1981). "On the accuracy of the Pre-famine Irish censuses". In Goldstrom, J. M.; Clarkson, L. A.. Irish Population, Economy, and Society: Essays in Honour of the Late K. H. Connell. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press. 
  7. ^ Mokyr, Joel; O Grada, Cormac (November). "New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700-1850". The Economic History Review. Volume 37 (Issue 4): 473–488. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.1984.tb00344.x. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Corry, Eoghan (2005). The GAA Book of Lists. Hodder Headline Ireland. pp. 186–191. ISBN 0340896957. 
  10. ^ See Philip Smith (writer), An Introduction to the Architectural Heritage of County Wicklow. Dublin: Wordwell Press / Government of Ireland, Department of the Environment, Heritage, and Local Government, National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, 2004.
  11. ^ About Mermaid Arts Centre - Official website
  12. ^ "Wicklow Film Commission - Filming in Ireland". Wicklow Film Commission. 2011 [last update]. Retrieved 14 March 2011. 

External links

Coordinates: 53°00′N 6°25′W / 53°N 6.417°W / 53; -6.417

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