Irish Street Scene
Cavan, Irish An Cabhán (The Hollow Place), one of the three counties of the old province of Ulster, but now part of the Irish republic. With an area of 730 sq mi (1,891 sq km), it is bounded by Counties Monaghan (northeast), Meath, Westmeath, and Longford (south), and Leitrim (northwest). Northern Ireland lies to the north. Northwestern Cavan comprises uplands, intersected by valleys, declining toward the main valley of the River Erne, where the main features are the drumlins (long, oval mounds) that alternate with lakes, rivers, peat bogs, and pastures. East of the Erne Valley is a line of slate and shale hills.
The Cavan district is mentioned in accounts of the life of St. Patrick (flourished 5th century). Cavan formed part of the kingdom of Bréifne, which included Leitrim, of which the O'Rourkes were princes. In later times Cavan, or East Bréifne, became distinctively Bréifne O'Reilly; and West Bréifne, or Leitrim, became Bréifne O'Rourke. Bréifne long resisted colonization by the Anglo-Normans, and the O'Reilly's of Cavan were not brought under permanent English rule until the late 16th century. Cavan, previously part of Connacht, was designated a part of Ulster in the early 17th century and included in the Ulster plantation from 1608 onward, when it was settled by Scots and English colonists.
Only one-quarter of the people of Cavan live in villages and towns; Cavan, the county seat, Cootehill, and Belturbet are the largest. The Roman Catholic cathedral of Kilmore diocese is in Cavan, the Protestant cathedral in Kilmore. Farms in Cavan average 30–40 ac (12–16 ha); and one-tenth of the improved land is used for crops, one-fifth for hay, and the rest for pasture. Creameries are common, and the towns are market centres with industries such as plastics, food processing, synthetic fibres, and wallpaper manufacturing. Main roads converge on Cavan from Belfast, Dublin, and Athlone. Pop. (1986) 53,965.