The Northern Ireland map below shows the province of Ulster as it was in 1848, at the height of the famine that brought unbearable suffering to millions of people.
Death and emigration caused the population to shrink dramatically. Some counties, especially the more rural, have a considerably smaller population density in the 21st century than they did in 1841.
Even allowing for later migration to cities, the figures tell the tale of a devastated population.
The province of Ulster
In 1922, the island of Ireland was divided into two entities. The process is usually referred to as 'Partitition'. Six counties in the province of Ulster became a separate and distinct part of the United Kingdom - Northern Ireland - while the remaining 26 counties (including three from the province of Ulster) became what is now the Republic of Ireland. In the early years following partition, the 26 counties were referred to as the Irish Free State.
This is how the nine historical counties were 'distributed':
When conducting Irish family history research it is important to make the distinction between the two political states because some records are held in Belfast and others in Dublin. Knowing in which state your ancestors' county now lies can save you valuable research time.
|County||Area in KMs2|| Population 2002
|| Population 2002
| Population 1841
Source: All-island Census 1841/Census 2002.
February 2020: Northern Ireland's statistical office no longer collects data on a county basis, so the table above cannot be repeated with more up to date information. The latest population figures for Northern Ireland are from the 2012 census which counted 1,810,863 inhabitants, and mid-2018 when the official estimate was put at 1,881,641.