Province (pop., 2002 prelim.: 1,101,266), southern Ireland. It has an area of 9,315 sq mi (24,127 sq km). The region was ruled by a southern clan, which gradually extended its power over Munster by circa AD 400. In the 10th century Vikings invaded and eventually settled in Waterford and Limerick. After the 12th-century Anglo-Norman invasion, it was ruled by the feudal families of Fitzgerald and Butler. It now comprises the counties of Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary (North Riding and South Riding), and Waterford.
Learn more about Munster with a free trial on Britannica.com.
The name is derived from the Celtic goddess, Muma. The province was once divided into six regions: Tuadh Mhuman (North Munster), Deas Mhuman (South Munster), Urh Mumhan (East Munster), Iar mumhan (West Munster), Ernaibh Muman (the Ernai tribe's portion of Munster), and Deisi Muman (the Deisi tribe's portion of Munster). Ultimately, these were all subsumed into the kingdoms of Thomond (North Munster), Desmond (South Munster), and Ormond (East Munster), all of which were eventually subsumed by surrender and regrant as Earldoms in the Peerage of Ireland. The names exist only indirectly today, particularly in the case of Thomond. The three crowns represent these three kingdoms. This flag can easily be confused with the flag of Dublin which has three castles in a similar pattern on a blue background; it also resembles the lesser coat-of-arms of Sweden, the Three Crowns.
Maurice FitzGerald, 1st Earl of Desmond (d. 1356), was described as the "ruler of Munster" in his lifetime.
In 1841 before the Great Famine, there were just under three million people living in the province of Munster, but the population dropped devastatingly low due to mass emigration in the 1840s and continued emigration up until the 1980s.
For 30 days during the Irish Civil War, the province of Munster broke away from the Irish Free State and established the Munster Republic in opposition to the acceptance of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. The Munster Republic was short lived and subsequently crushed by heavily-armed Irish Free State forces.
It comprises the counties of:
|County Clare||110,800||3,147 km²|
|County Cork||480,909||7,457 km²|
|County Kerry||139,616||4,746 km²|
|County Limerick||183,863||2,686 km²|
|County Tipperary||149,050||4,303 km²|
|County Waterford||107,942||1,837 km²|
The province of Munster contributes 40 billion euro (US$52.57bn) to Irish GDP (25% of total Irish GDP) (2004) (greater than the Economy of Northern Ireland 37.3bn euro) (See "GDP stats" below). Munster also is wealthier than Slovenia (pop. 2m), Lithuania (pop. 3.5m), Latvia (pop. 2.5m) and Kenya (pop. 35m). Munster is the home to many modern capital intensive, highly productive private sector enterprises.
The Economy of Cork and Economy of Limerick are the main engines of the province's economy. The Cork harbour area was the centre of Ireland's heavy industry manufacturing sector. Cork had a steel mill, a shipyard, a car assembly plant, a tyre plant, a deep harbour, and a thriving textile sector in the mid twentieth century. (Cork people are proud to point out that this was greater than any other Irish city including Belfast, which did not figure in the automotive industry). However heavy taxes, excessive regulation, competition from larger centres of economic activity, and the sudden removal of protective tarifs upon membership of the European Economic Community caused a decline in the 1970s. Cork was Ireland's rust belt city in the 1980s, as heavy industry moved out, and newer sectors tried to get established in as unemployment peaked. Munster was the home of 'The Munster and Leinster Bank', which is parent of Ireland's richest and largest bank Allied Irish Bank. Cork, in Munster, is also home of the two largest Irish owned retailing organizations, Dunnes Stores, and the Musgrave Group. Cork is also home to two of the three Irish stout brands; Murphy's Irish stout, and Beamish, as well as the 'Paddy' brand of Irish whiskey.
Shannon airport, a rich music tradition, the best food from land and sea, and landscapes of international renown, have all been influential in the development of the tourist sector in Munster.
The majority of the Republic's power stations are located in Munster.
Ireland's only oil refinery and oil storage facility is still located at Whitegate.
The majority of Ireland's gas production comes from Kinsale Head in County Cork, from where it is transported by pipeline across the country.
Munster is one of Ireland's most important I.T. hubs with such multinationals as Apple, Intel, Amazon and Dell locating in the province. The Atlantic Quarter in Cork is a new plan to create a smaller version of Dublin's IFSC in Cork docklands. In Kerry, FEXCO Financial Services in Killorglin is a foreign exchange and global payments group.
Munster has developed into the centre of Ireland's Pharmaceutical industry. The province plays an ever greater role in the bio-pharmaceutical industry and is successful in fighting off stiff competition from Switzerland and Singapore for inward investments in the bio-pharmaceutical area in companies such as Amgen and Pfizer and Roche(located in Clarecastle Co.Clare).
The following are some of the more important employers in the region: AOL, Bausch & Lomb, Dairygold, Dell, Amazon, Motorola, Amgen, Pfizer, Analog Devices, Fexco Financial Services, Vistakon, Waterford Crystal, Apple Computer, Intel, Novartis, O2, Lufthansa Technik, Kerry Group, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Siemens, Sony. The largest employment hub in Munster is Metropolitan Cork, with many large multinational firms located in the area. The second most important is the Shannon Free Zone with over 120 international firms based there employing over 7,500 people.
Cork harbour is the largest natural harbour in Europe and has always had a long and important maritime history.
Haulbowline Island is the location of the Irish naval fleet and the Irish naval college.
The town of Cobh is one of Ireland's only cruise ship destinations.
The number of Gaelscoileanna (Irish language schools) has increased sharply in the last ten years. Children learn Irish and speak Irish in the Gaelscoileanna. Munster has the second highest number of Irish-medium primary schools(46) in Ireland and the highest number of Irish-medium secondary schools(22) of any Irish province.
The Limerick Leader (covers the Mid West)