CORK    Chorcaigh.

  1. City in the south of Ireland, which stands where the River Lee meets the long Cork Harbour;
  2. The county of which the city is capital.

The city and the harbour were held by the Northmen from the 9th to the 12th centuries.

The county of Cork was formed in the 13th century when most of Munster was under Norman control, perhaps even in the 12th century. Irish control however returned as Anglo-Norman power retreated in the 14th century. The Kings of Desmond (southern Munster) sometimes used Cork as a capital and so their Kingdom is sometimes called Cork. Cork was under English control again (sometimes more, sometimes less) by the late middle ages.

The county occupies a considerable territory in southwestern Ireland, its coast stretching from the estuary of the river Kenmare in the west to Youghal Harbour in the east. The River Lee drains the south of the county, the Blackwater the north, while in the far north are the headwaters of rivers that flow to the Shannon. Cork is easily the largest county, not only in the Republic but in the entire island of Ireland, and easily ranks second in the Republic in population, only Co. Dublin having more.

Ecclesiastically the county was divided between the dioceses of Cork, Cloyne (in the north and east), and Ross (along much of the coast). Cork and Cloyne united in 1429 and in the Church of Ireland usually remained so, Ross also being merged with Cork in 1583. In the Roman Catholic Church, Cloyne separated from Cork in 1747, but at the same time Ross united with Cloyne. They separated again in 1850.

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