Such were the narrow margins in play that combining Cork South and North Central votes shows a majority of just 88 for the yes side (33,313 votes) over no (33,225 votes).
It also raised concerns about confusion over the location and late switching of polling station sites.
Nine Munster constituencies returned a yes vote in Friday’s referendum on the future of the second chamber, while just four backed its retention, among them three of the five Co Cork constituencies — but it was tight.
Cork South Central, constituency of Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, was the first to return a win for the no side, who were opposed to the abolition of the Seanad.
By the time counting had concluded, 48.7% of voters had backed the referendum proposal but 51.3% voted no.
The no side also prevailed in Cork East, where the yes vote was 48.6% compared with 51.4%, while the winning margin for the no side was even tighter in Cork North West, where 49.9% voted yes and 50.1% voted no.
The margin of the win for the no side in Cork East, and the 39% turnout, almost exactly mirrored the national result in the Seanad referendum.
In numerical terms, Cork North West appears to have had the tightest margin either way in the country, with the no side shading it by 28 votes out of 25,820 valid votes (12,924 versus 12,896, or 50.05% versus 49.95%).
The yes side prevailed in Cork North Central — 51.8% voted yes while 48.2% voted no, and in Cork South West, 50.9% said they wanted the Seanad scrapped, versus 49.1% who wanted it retained. Cork South West also had the highest voter turnout in the county at 42.4%.
Voting in the south was not immune to elements of voter confusion. Fine Gael local area representative Barry Keane said that, in the Cork suburb of Bishopstown, there was concern over the closure of Gaelscoil Therese in Curraheen and the late switch of the polling venue.
He claimed that there had been “a
clear failure to properly advertise the change and, as returning officers are required to run an effective poll, it seems strange that the returning officer in Cork did not follow the example of Dublin City Council, which was able to write out to 35,000 voters when they made a last minute mistake”.
In Kerry North West/Limerick, there was clear water between the yes and no side, with 53.8% of voters believing the Seanad should be done away with.
The margin of victory for the yes side was even more clear cut in Kerry South, where 54.5% voted yes and 45.5% voted no. That was the third highest yes vote in the country by percentage, behind Mayo and Cavan-Monaghan.
By contrast, no Munster county was among the top 10 counties around the country in terms of the highest no vote.