The Electoral Commission has recommended sweeping changes to our constituencies to reflect the constant population increases, particularly in the eastern half of the country.
Here is a short guide to the changes in constituencies outside Dublin. Nine of the 14 new TDs will be from these constituencies, with a completely new constituency shared between Wicklow and Wexford.
Index to political party abbreviations: Fianna Fáil (FF); Fine Gael (FG); Green Party (GP); Independent (Ind); People Before Profit-Solidarity (PBP-Sol); Sinn Féin (SF); Social Democrats (SD).
Donegal: No news might be good news for McConalogue
5 seats (unchanged)
Current TDs: five - Pearse Doherty (SF), Charlie McConalogue (FF), Joe McHugh (FG), Padraig McLoughlin (SF), Thomas Pringle (Ind).
No change doesn’t necessarily mean no change in representation at the election. In fact, we are guaranteed at least one change, as Joe McHugh will not be standing.
Sinn Féin had 2.7 quotas last time with only two candidates and will be striving for a third seat.
Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has to hope his affability overrides local anger over the mica scandal. The fact it was not of his making won’t wash, but the €2.2bn Government redress funding he helped to secure just might.
Thomas Pringle, as a left-leaning independent, might be vulnerable here. Farmers Alliance founder Liam McLoughlin might well be in the field, particularly if he and his party go well in the local elections next year.
Cavan-Monaghan: slightly smaller, little to see
5 seats (unchanged)
Current TDs: 5 - Matt Carthy (SF), Heather Humphreys (FG), Brendan Smith (FF), Niamh Smyth (FF) Pauline Tully (SF).
Cavan-Monaghan has changed a little, in that seven electoral districts in the south of the constituency from Co Meath have been returned to Meath East. It means that the county boundaries are the constituency borders too.
What does that mean for the electoral prospects? Little change. The population increase in the two counties means a slight increase in the constituency population since the 2016 election despite the lost ground.
Sinn Féin will easily hold two seats, but would have to grow their vote hugely to threaten a third.
Heather Humphreys' high profile will stand to her and Niamh Smyth impressed the nation during the RTE hearings in her capacity as chair of the Oireachtas media and arts committee.
Brendan Smyth is a popular vote-getter, 12 years after he stepped down as minister for agriculture.
Meath: One more Royal seat
Meath East: 4 Seats (+1)
Current TDs: 3 - Thomas Byrne (FF), Darren O Rourke (SF), Helen McEntee (FG).
An extra seat has been handed to Meath East, along with parts of the county previously in Louth and Cavan-Monaghan.
There will be some fight for this seat, as there was a large gap between the three elected TDs and the other candidates in 2020.
Regina Doherty occupied that fourth place, but has since relocated to Fingal, which didn’t gain a seat, but rather lost ground in the review within Dublin.
The Green Party, whose Sean McCabe finished fifth last time, independent Councillor Joe Bonner and Senator Sharon Keoghan will all be in the hunt. Impossible to predict this far out.
Meath West: 3 seats (unchanged)
Current TDs: 3 - Damien English (FG); Johnny Guirke (SF); Peadar Tóibín (Áontu).
No gains for Meath West, in seats or territories. The increase in population means the 16 electoral divisions from Westmeath can be returned across the border.
Fianna Fáil will be targeting a seat here, but it will have to come at the expense of one of the sitting TDs. Damien English may be the most vulnerable of the three.
Louth: half of Meath territory returned
5 seats (unchanged)
Current TD’s: 5- Peter Fitzpatrick (Ind); Imelda Munster (SF); Ged Nash (Lab); Fergus O’Dowd (FG); Ruairi Ó Murchú (SF).
The line between Louth and Meath is not quite as controversial as the one for Joe Sheridan’s goal in the 2010 Leinster Final, but no less than 10% of all submissions made by the public referred to its’ future. With a population gain of 11%, there are way too many people in Louth for 5 seats. The solution decided upon was to move one of the two Meath electoral districts that were in Louth back home to Meath East. Julianstown, with 11,500 people, moves, while St Mary’s which is in Drogheda, and has over 16,000 people, stays. The decision to leave St Mary’s seems to be linked to Drogheda’s pursuit of city status.
This may hit Fergus O’Dowd and Ged Nash hardest, as the two Drogheda-based TD’s. Fianna Fáil will surely target regaining a seat in the county of frank Aiken, Padraig Faulkner and Dermot Ahern. With Peter Fitzpatrick being a former Fine Gael TD before going independent, will there be enough votes for him and Fergus O’Dowd?
Longford-Westmeath: Reynolds country gains a seat
5 seats (+1)
Current TDs: 4 - Sorcha Clarke (SF), Joe Flaherty (FF), Peter Burke (FG), Robert Troy (FF).
The addition of a seat means this will be one of the most open constituencies at the next general election.
Fianna Fáil won over 30% of the vote here last time in Albert Reynolds' former stronghold and will be super confident of retaining both.
Sinn Féin will be eyeing a second seat, but Independent Kevin Boxer Moran will be optimistic too.
If there is a farming party of significance, this is one constituency they will surely target. Former Longford IFA county chair James Reynolds, who recently claimed the leadership of the far-right National Party, gained 983 first preference votes in 2020.
Kildare: North gains a seat and a chunk of the south
Kildare North: 5 seats (+1)
Current TDs: 4 - Réada Cronin (SF), Bernard Durkan (FG), James Lawless (FF), Catherine Murphy (SD).
With the second-fastest growing population in the country, Kildare was nailed on to get an extra seat. A higher proportion of the growth is in the part of the county nearest Dublin, so Kildare North gets the extra seat.
It probably means the current TDs are reasonably safe and may increase the chances of 78-year-old Bernard Durkan and Catherine Murphy running again.
Kildare South: 4 seats (unchanged)
Current TDs: 4 - Cathal Berry (Ind), Martin Heydon (FG), Seán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle), Patricia Ryan (SF).
This is going to be an almighty dogfight of a constituency next time round. Not only has ground been lost to Kildare North around Naas, but also to Offaly and Laois around Portarlington.
In addition, while it remains a four seater, Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl will be automatically returned at the next election, making this an enormous three-seater.
It’s a complication Minister of State for agriculture Martin Heydon could do without, having held off Fianna Fáil’s Fiona O’ Loughlin last time under the same circumstances and now having lost votes local to him in the east and some rural areas on the Offaly border.
The loss of Cathal Berry’s Portarlington base will hurt, but he is both liked and respected.
Laois and Offaly: separated again
Laois and Offaly are truly the Liz Taylor and Richard Burton of constituencies.
The midlands neighbours had been joined together since before the foundation of the State until 2016, when they were summarily divorced. However, after only one election apart, they were remarried for the 2020 election. Now they find themselves divorced for the second time in a dozen years.
Laois: 3 seats (new constituency)
Current TDs: 3 - Sean Fleming (FF) Charlie Flanagan, (FG) Brian Stanley (SF).
Laois unusually elected three of the five TDs in the conjoined constituency in 2020 - that usually was Offaly’s prerogative.
On paper, this looks like one of the easier electoral contests to predict, particularly as Charlie Flanagan looks like running again.
But while Irish elections are literally run on paper, surprises are as inevitable as August rain. One of the higher ratios of population to TDs as the decision was made to respect the county boundary.
Offaly: 3 seats (new constituency)
Current TDs: 2 - Barry Cowen (FF), Carol Nolan (Ind).
While Offaly has almost 9,000 fewer people than Laois, the decision was made to respect county boundaries, so it has a high ratio of voters to TDs.
Offaly usually has three TDs and even had four after the 2002 election, but only Barry Cowen and Carol Nolan currently represent the county. Sinn Féin will be favourites for the third seat, but will Nolan - a former Sinn Féin TD - split that vote?
Fine Gael will certainly hope so. Senator Pippa Hackett will hope her high profile as a Minister of State for agriculture, which brings a place at cabinet as a 'super junior' will help her gain a seat for the Green Party. She was sixth in the five-seater last time.
Wexford and Wicklow: married in the middle
The naming committee in the commission review team must have been on their lunch break when this corner of the country was being finalised.
Where there were two five-seat constituencies, we now have three constituencies, with Wicklow to the north, Wexford in the south and in the middle, eh, Wicklow/Wexford. It’s a three-seater, with the other two being four seaters, meaning an extra seat is being shared between this pair of east coast neighbours.
Wexford: 4 seats (-1)
Current TDs: 5 - James Browne (FF), Brendan Howlin (Lab), Paul Kehoe (FG), Verona Murphy (Ind), Johnny Mythen (SF).
In Wexford (south), Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin are assured of two of the four seats. The other two will be fought between Labour’s George Lawlor, who will hope to hold Brendan Howlin’s vote mostly retained in the smaller constituency, independent Verona Murphy and whoever runs for Fine Gael. Murphy hoovered up Fine Gael votes all over Wexford last time and should not be underestimated.
Wicklow-Wexford: 3 seats (new constituency)
Current TDs: none
The northern section of Wexford - effectively the old Gorey district plus Kiltealy/Ballindaggin - has been shaven off to be linked with south Wicklow, which includes Arklow, but stops south of Wicklow town.
One anomaly is that none of the 10 current Wicklow and Wexford TDs live within the new constituency.
Interestingly, Paul Kehoe, Johnny Mythen and James Browne are all based in Enniscorthy, just south of the new border. Which constituency will each of them seek to run in? That could prove significant in two constituencies.
I live here - and started out in the Carlow/Kilkenny constituency and now find myself in Wexford/Wicklow. There is a logic to the new constituency, in that the border is a pretty soft one, nothing like, say Urlingford.
With no sitting TDs, a farmer’s party - be it Farmers Alliance or others - will surely make this a target.
Wicklow: 4 seats
Current TDs: 5 - John Brady (SF), Stephen Donnelly (FF), Simon Harris (FG), Stephen Matthews (GP), Jennifer Whitmore (SD).
Wicklow will be an absolute dogfight, with ministers Stephen Donnelly and Simon Harris likely to be battling for the last two seats.
Sinn Féin’s John Brady and one of the other left TDs - Green Party’s Stephen Matthews and the Social Democrats' Jennifer Whitmore - are likely to be first home in what is now a very urban constituency.
If there were a rural candidate with the appeal of Andrew Doyle, it might be different. Pat Casey of Fianna Fáil has a decision to make, as he is right on the border with Wicklow-Wexford.
Carlow/Kilkenny: Losing to Tipp always hurts the Cats
Current TDs: 5 - Kathleen Funchion (SF), John McGuinness (FF), Jennifer Murnane O’Connor (FF), Malcolm Noonan (GP), John Paul Phelan (FG).
There was a lot of speculation that this two-county, five-seat constituency would become two three-seaters, with a chunk of Wexford thrown in. Or perhaps that some of south Kilkenny would go into an expanded Waterford constituency.
Instead, the Electoral Commission - in its wisdom - has decided to put part of Kilkenny in with Tipperary North, breaking one of the harder county borders in the country.
Tullaroan in Tipperary just sounds wrong, whether it’s hurling or political representation. It’s the only new breach of a county boundary - it’s actually a provincial boundary breached.
Will this loss help Carlow gain a second seat? Kilkenny man John Paul Phelan isn’t running - perhaps Pat Deering will be back for Fine Gael.
Fianna Fáil will be determined to retain two seats and the geographical split will help (Jennifer Murnane O’Connor being the sole current Carlow TD). Can the Greens hold on? Only time will tell.
Tipperary splits again - six seats (plus one)
Tipperary North: 3 seats (new constituency).
Current TDs: 3 - Jackie Cahill (FF), Alan Kelly (Lab), Michael Lowry (Ind).
The addition of no less than 13 Kilkenny electoral districts is the biggest talking point, not just in Tipperary North, but perhaps across the whole country.
With a population of only 6,400, there’s little chance of the Kilkenny enclave electing their own TD. In fact, the three sitting TDs will take a lot of shifting.
Michael Lowry is an electoral phenomenon, topping the poll decisively in 2020 despite the Sinn Féin wave.
Jackie Cahill will rue the loss of south Tipp - he’d put in a lot of work there - but he will play well with the Kilkenny dairy farmers.
Alan Kelly may no longer be Labour party leader, but he is a steady vote-getter and will benefit from the return of that part of the county around Newport from Limerick city. But will he run again - or might he run for Europe?
Sinn Féin will be eyeing up a seat. Lowry has eaten much of the Fine Gael vote. Independent Joe Hannigan ran well last time.
Tipp South 3 seats (new constituency)
Current TDs: 2 - Martin Browne (SF), Mattie McGrath (Ind).
There will be a lot of hands in the air for the third seat in South Tipperary, with neither Fianna Fáil nor Fine Gael represented here.
Mattie McGrath claims a lot of former Fianna Fail votes, but also Fine Gael votes.
Martin Browne is one of the lower-profile Sinn Féin TDs and may need his party to stay buoyant right up until election day.
Seamus Healy formerly held a seat in Tipperary South’s previous life and is still active. He’s younger than Joe Biden or Donald Trump - will he go again?
Senator Garret Ahern will hope to run for Fine Gael having come sixth in Tipperary in 2020.
Cork - both new seats in the city, with transfers on the cards
Cork East TDs: 4 (unchanged)
Current TDs: 4 - Pat Buckley (SF), James O’Connor, Sean Sherlock (Lab), David Stanton (FG).
Sean Sherlock has already said if he stands at the next election he will move with his Mallow base to Cork North Central. Labour haven’t a hope of holding their seat without him. Who will gain?
Fine Gael might gain Simon Coveney from Cork South Central, but David Stanton isn’t standing, so no gain there.
Kevin O’Keeffe was barely edged out by his Fianna Fáil running mate James O’Connor in 2020 - he’ll be eyeing his chances. Independent Mary Linehan was right in the hunt last time.
Cork North Central: 5 seats (+1).
Current TDs: 4 - Mick Barry (PBP- Sol), Colm Burke (FG), Thomas Gould (SF), Padraig O’Sullivan.
The extra seat here will be chased by all and sundry, but if Sean Sherlock stands, he will take stopping, as Mallow may want to elect one of their own in their new home.
Cork South Central: 5 seats (+1).
Current TDs: 4 - Simon Coveney (FG), Michael Martin (FF), Michael McGrath (FF), Donnchadh O’Laoghaire (SF).
An extra seat, which will be coveted by Fine Gael, but Jerry Buttimer may be hoping the rumours that Simon Coveney is moving to Cork East are true.
It’s a more urban constituency than before, so little chance of a Farmers Alliance candidate ever featuring, unless they have a BBB-style breakthrough across the country.
Dan Boyle did have a seat here, so perhaps the Green Party will be in the hunt.
Cork South West: 3 seats (unchanged).
Current TDs: 3 - Holly Cairns (SD), Michael Collins (Ind), Christopher O’Sullivan (FF).
Michael Collins described the constituency review as “a missed opportunity”, while Christopher O’Sullivan was disappointed an extra seat wasn’t added. But that is little more than wishful thinking; in truth this was a pretty easy decision for the Electoral Commission.
The former Fine Gael stronghold is currently devoid of a TD from the party that sees Michael Collins as its founding father. Instead, his namesake dominates, with Holly Cairns' increased profile as the Social Democrats leader helping her chances of retaining her seat.
Senator Tim Lombard wants to win a seat back for Fine Gael; the Minane-Bridge-based dairy farmer has been outspoken on the nitrates derogation changes recently.
The Farmers Alliance is likely to run Bantry farmer Helen O’Sullivan here, so this will be a ding-dong battle. Bring popcorn.
Cork North West: 3 seats (unchanged).
Current TDs: 3 - Michael Creed (FG), Aindrías Moynihan (FF), Michael Moynihan (FF).
Having both gained and lost ground, Cork North West is now one of the most rural constituencies in the country. The ground lost is Ballincollig, with a population of 20,000, while the seven electoral districts that land in from Cork East and Cork North Central are more rural, bringing in a combined 8,600 people.
It all suggests that this constituency will continue to be conservative in the TDs it returns - Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have always shared all three seats between them.
The Social Democrats' Ciarán McCarthy was fourth last time out, but will miss the Ballincollig urban vote.
Sinn Féin didn’t even run a candidate here in 2020, but will surely field a candidate next time round. There were hopes Lia Ní Ríada would run, but she has decided not to.
Former agriculture minister Michael Creed is stepping down, ending over 40 years of almost continuous representation by his family since the constituency was formed, with running mate last time John Paul O’Shea perhaps in the box seat.
A Farmers Alliance target, should it become a force, but party loyalty is strong here.
Kerry - little to see
5 seats (unchanged)
Current TDs: 5 - Patrick Daly (SF), Norma Foley (FF), Brendan Griffin (FG), Danny Healy-Rae (Ind), Michael Healy-Rae (Ind).
There must have been a temptation to create a three-seat Healy-Rae constituency centred around Kilgarvan, but, otherwise, the relatively unchanged population means no change in the Kingdom.
Clare - high ratio but no change
4 seats (unchanged).
Current TDs: 4 - Joe Carey (FG), Cathal Crowe (FF), Michael McNamara (Ind), Violet Anne Wynne (Ind).
There’s been an increase of population in Clare, up to almost 128,000, which leaves the county with one of the highest ratios of people to TDs, but the desire to leave county boundaries alone means no change here.
Unusually, two of the four current TDs are independents - Violet-Anne Wynne having parted company with Sinn Féin since being elected in 2020 and Michael McNamara leaving Labour eight years ago.
Sinn Féin will want that seat back in Éamon de Valera’s old stomping ground, while Fine Gael need to find a successor to Joe Carey.
Limerick - unchanged in Limerick
Limerick County: 3 seats (unchanged).
Current TDs: 3 - Niall Collins (FF), Richard O’ Donoghue (Ind), Patrick O’Donovan (FF).
Sinn Féin lost out here to Independent Richard O’Donoghue in 2020, who has been extremely vocal on rural issues since.
It basically looks like a four-way battle for the three seats, although it would need a collapse in Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil’s vote to threaten their seats.
Limerick City: 4 seats (unchanged).
Current TDs: 4 - Brian Leddin (GP), Willie O’Dea (FF), Kieran O’Donnell (FG), Niall Quinlivan (Sinn Féin).
The only change here is the loss of the Newport electoral districts back to their own county of Tipperary.
With the city dominating the electorate, a rural party or independent candidate would face an uphill task taking a seat.
Brian Leddin took the last seat for the Green Party last time; he might be vulnerable to a challenge from Labour or the Social Democrats.
Waterford - underrepresented county means a competitive fight
Seats: 4 (unchanged)
Current TDs: 4 - Mary Butler (FF), Marc Ó Cathasaigh (GP), David Cullinane (SF), Matt Shanahan (Ind).
Waterford is another under-represented county, with 31,839 people per TD. There might have been a case for moving some of the northern part of the county into Tipperary South, it was in there as recently as 2016 (Kilkenny people are sure to think so).
David Cullinane was elected with almost two quotas last time, so Sinn Féin is sure to target a second seat next time.
It’s always very competitive, with Fine Gael losing out last time.
Mayo - fifth seat returns
Mayo: 5 seats (+1).
Current TDs: 4 - Dara Calleary (FF), Rose Conway-Walsh (SF), Alan Dillon (FG), Michael Ring (FG).
While the main population increase in Connacht has come in Galway, the Electoral Commission has in part decided to acknowledge this by repatriating those parts of Mayo previously in Galway West and giving Mayo its fifth seat back.
It makes sense and will leave John O’Mahony frustrated, as the loss of the six electoral districts around the Cong/Kilmain area cost him last time out.
Fianna Fáil will target that fifth seat too, but Lisa Chambers might run for Europe next year and she is their strongest chance.
Galway - hard to predict in the west as the east gains
Galway West: 5 seats (unchanged).
Current TDs: 5 - Catherine Connelly (Ind), Maireád Farrell (SF), Noel Grealish (Ind), Hildegarde Naughten (FG), Éamon Ó Cúiv (FF).
This sprawling constituency, ranging from Connemara and the Aran Islands to Eyre Square and Salthill, remains as a five-seater, with those six electoral districts returned to Mayo.
It’s hard to predict how this will run next time, with Independents Noel Grealish and Catherine Connolly well established.
Galway East: 4 seats (+1).
Current TDs: 3 - Sean Canney (Ind), Ciaran Cannon (FG), Anne Rabbitte (FF).
Galway East has gained a seat and a large area back from Galway-Roscommon. Indeed, the 32 electoral districts switched over are the largest single shift in the country.
Sinn Féin will surely target this seat, having come a close fourth last time out.
All change in Roscommon
Galway-Roscommon: 3 seats (unchanged).
Current TDs: 3 - Michael Fitzmaurice (Ind), Claire Kerrane (SF), Denis Naughten (Ind).
It’s all change here. While it remains a three-seater, two-thirds of the Galway electoral districts have been shifted out, while 18 Roscommon electoral districts come in from Sligo-Leitrim.
Denis Naughten has said he isn’t standing again, while Michael Fitzmaurice, who has lost a fair chunk of his home area, says he will only run again within a political party.
Clare Kerrane is now Sinn Féin’s agriculture spokesperson and seems a safe bet with her party’s standing in the polls.
Both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will want to take seats in this rural constituency, but if Fitzmaurice stands, they’ll probably be fighting for one seat.
Sligo-Leitrim: loss of districts is easy to call
Sligo-Leitrim: 4 seats (unchanged).
Current TDs: 4 - Frank Feighan (FG), Marian Harkin (Ind), Martin Kenny (SF), Mark MacSharry (Ind).
With the loss of those 18 electoral districts to Galway-Roscommon, it was an easy call to keep this as a four-seater.
Will Mark MacSharry run as an independent and who will Fianna Fáil choose to fight for a seat?
Marian Harkin is a proven vote-getter and Fine Gael and Sinn Féin should comfortably hold a seat, so that will be the key battle.