In ancient times, Ireland was
divided into provinces, each ruled by a King. These provinces were dynamic and
their borders changed all the time.
Historically there were more than 4 provinces,
probably in ancient times five, as is indicated by the Irish word for the provinces,
c�iceda (which means fifths).
They are Ulster (Ulaid), Connacht, Munster (Mumu),
Leinster (Lagin), Meath (Mide). At various other times they might have included
Breifne [between Ulster and Connaught], Oriel [around county Armagh] and Meath
[the northern half of Leinster].
The geography of ancient Ireland is rooted
in myth and legend, and so the degree of certainty about anything geographical
diminishes the further back in time it is.
Today, when Irish talk about the
provinces of Ireland, they mean Leinster, Ulster, Munster and Connaught.