County Cavan is a county in Ireland. It is in the province of Ulster and is part of the Border Region. It is named after the town of Cavan and is based on the historic Gaelic territory of East Breffny (Bréifne). Cavan County Council is the local authority for the county, which has a population of 73,183 according to the 2011 census.
In medieval times, the area of Cavan was part of the petty kingdom of East Bréifne or Brefney O'Reilly after its ruling Gaelic family. This in turn was a division of the 11th century Kingdom of Bréifne. For this reason the county is colloquially known as the Breffni County. A high degree of defence was achieved by using the natural landscape of drumlin hills and loughs. The poorly drained heavy clay soils contributed as an obstacle against invasion.
Historically, Cavan was part of the western province of Connacht, but was transferred to Ulster in 1584 when Bréifne was shired and became the county of Cavan. In the south, the Lough Sheelin area was part of Leinster until the late 14th century.
Parts of Cavan were subjected to Norman influence from the twelfth century and the remains of several motte and bailie fortifications are still visible mainly in the east of the county, as well as the remains of stronger works such as Castlerahan and Clogh Oughter castle. The influence of several monastic orders also owes its origins to around this time with abbey remains existent in locations such as Drumlane and Trinity Island.
The Plantation of Ulster from 1610 saw the settlement and origins of several new towns within the county that include Bailieborough, Cootehill, Killeshandra and Virginia. Existing towns such as Cavan and Belturbet became over time more important as trading centres. Wars during the mid-seventeenth century aimed at trying to unsettle the Plantation only led to further plantations of English and Scottish settlers into the county and the beginnings of a thriving flax and linen industry.
Some areas of Cavan were hard hit by the Great Famine potato blight between 1845-49. The winter of 1847 is particularly noted for the high levels of deaths nationally caused by diseases such as typhus and cholera. Several instances of eviction also occurred during the nineteenth century, with one such story where the local landlord in Mountnugent parish decided to evict over 200 people. The famous ballad "By Lough Sheelin Side" is based on this event witnessed by the local Catholic priest.
Edward Saunderson, founder of the Ulster Unionist Council, was born in the County. However, when the Irish Unionist Party met on 9 June 1916, the delegates from Cavan learnt that they would not be included in any "temporary exclusion of Ulster" from Home Rule; they agreed only with very great reluctance.
Geography and political subdivisions
Cavan borders six counties; Leitrim to the west, Fermanagh and Monaghan to the north, Meath to the south-east, Longford to the south-west and Westmeath to the south. Cavan shares a border with County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland. Cavan is the 19th largest of the 32 counties in area and the 25th largest by population. It is also the sixth largest of Ulster's nine counties in size and the seventh largest by population.
There are eight historic baronies in the county. While baronies continue to be officially defined units, they are no longer used for many administrative purposes. Their official status is illustrated by Placenames Orders made since 2003, where official Irish names of baronies are listed under "Administrative units".
Civil parishes and townlands
Townlands are the smallest officially defined geographical divisions in Ireland, there are approximately 1979 townlands in the county.
Towns and villages
The county is characterised by drumlin countryside dotted with many lakes and hills. The north-western area of the county is sparsely populated and mountainous. The Breifne mountains contains the highest point, Cuilcagh at .
Cavan is the source of many rivers in Ireland. Shannon Pot on the slopes of Culicagh is the source of the River Shannon, the longest river in Ireland at . The River Erne is a major river which rises from Beaghy Lough, two miles (3 km) south of Stradone in Cavan and flows for to Lough Erne. Other rivers in the county include the Blackwater River from Lough Ramor which joins the River Boyne at Navan. the Dee which springs near Bailieborough, the River Annalee which flows from Lough Sillan and joins the Erne, the Cladagh river rises from Culicagh and flows into Fermanagh. The Glyde and the Owenroe also source in Cavan.
Cavan is known as 'The Lakeland County' and is reputed to contain 365 lakes. At , Lough Sheelin is the county's largest lake situated in the south of the county and forms a three way border on its waters between counties Meath and Westmeath and Cavan. A large complex of lakes form in the north and west of Cavan into designated Specially Protected Areas (SPA), example of this being Lough Oughter. Other important wildlife protected lakes such as Lough Gowna and Lough Ramor are in the south and east of the county. Cavan has a mainly hilly (drumlin) landscape and contains just under of forested area, 3.6% of Cavan's total land area. The county contains forests such as Bellamont Forest near Cootehill, Killykeen Forest Park at Lough Oughter (a Coillte state forest concern), Dún na Rí Forest Park and the Burren Forest.
Met Éireann records the climate data for Cavan from their station at Ballyhaise. Under Köppen climate classification, Cavan experiences a maritime temperate oceanic climate with cold winters, mild humid summers, and a lack of temperature extremes. The average maximum January temperature is , while the average maximum July temperature is . On average, the sunniest months are May and June, while the wettest month is October with of rain, and the driest months are May and June with respectively. Humidity is high year round and rainfall is evenly distributed throughout the year, with the annual precipitation at Ballyhaise being
On average, snow showers occur between November and March. In 2010, record low temperatures for November, December and January were recorded in Cavan. In late December, the temperature at the station fell to , its lowest ever. On Tuesday 21 December 2010, a daily maximum of was recorded at Ballyhaise, the lowest daily maximum ever recorded in Ireland. Summer daytime temperatures range between and , with temperatures rarely going beyond . Like much of Ireland, the county experiences long summer days and short winter days. The annual sunshine hours the county receives on average range between 1,300 hours in the north to 1,500 hours in the south.