© Donal G. Burke 2013
Baile: a settlement or township, an area of farmland or an estate usually associated with one particular family group or person. It may also refer to a later structured town such as Loughrea, known also in the early modern period as Ballyloughrea.
Bile: an old tree held to be sacred or venerated. The medieval quarter of Lisdavilla, incorporated, it would appear, into the modern townland of Killevny on the eastern slope of Redmount Hill, is manifest now only in a ringfort of that name in the townland of Killevny. It may translate as the ringfort or lios of the two ancient trees. Lios (ringfort) + dá (two) + bile. In close proximity to this townland is that of Ballyhoose, in the translation of which it has been suggested by P.W. Joyce in his ‘Irish Place Names’ that the ‘bally’ refers rather to a ‘bile’ or old sacred tree than the alternative reading of ‘baile’, as in ‘Bile Chuas’.
Buaile: a milking place for cows or a temporary cattlefold or booley, a place for maintaining cattle during the movement and pasturing of cattle in summer, as in the parish of Boula, barony of Longford, or the townland of Boleyroe, parish of Killimor, the red booley from ‘buaile’ + ‘rua’ (red). Also Boleybeg, parish of Killimor, ‘the small boley’, from ‘beag’ meaning ‘small’.
Buirgéis: a borough, as in Killnaborris, parish of Clonfert, to the north of the former medieval borough of Meelick. At some point in the medieval period the Anglo-Norman settlement at Meelick was afforded borough status and from this settlement the townland to the north of the borough, Killnaborris or Coill na buiríse, ‘the wood of the borough’, derived its name. While it has been suggested that this translates as the church of the burgesses, local pronounciation of the ‘Kill’ element as ‘Kyle’ would suggest ‘coill’, a wood, rather than a church. Coill + buirgéis.
Caladh: Known locally in the eastern region of County Galway as ‘Callows’, low-lying river meadow bordering the River Shannon liable to flooding, the grass of which is often cut in summer for hay or winter fodder for livestock.
Cealtrach: an ancient burial ground, as in the townland of Caltragh, modern parish of Lawrencetown, formerly part of the parish of Clonfert.
Ceárta: a forge, as in the townland of Coolcarta East (pronounced locally as ‘Coolcarty’), possibly ‘the rear of the forge’. Cúl cheárta, ie. cúl (rear) + ceárta. Also the townland of Carta (pronounced locally as ‘Carty’) in the parish of Clonfert, along the banks of the River Shannon.
Ceathrú: (older spelling ‘ceathramhadh’) a Quarter of land, an old land division of that name.
Cill: (or ‘Ceall’), a church or churchyard.
Cillín: a small church or churchyard, the diminutive of ‘Cill’, as in Killeen fort and burial ground, in the townland of Kilmacshane. Given on the 1838 O.S. map as a circular enclosure or embankment and its use at one time, as is said locally, as a burial ground for unbaptised children, it would appear to be from this site that the townland of Kilmacshane, parish of Clonfert, derives its name. Kilmacshane, ‘the church or churchyard of the son of Shane, ie. Seán or John. ‘Kill’ + mac (son) + Seán (Shane or John). Also Killeen, a quarter of land in the late medieval period that was later one of a number of townlands that became the modern townland of Abbeyland Great, parish of Clonfert.
Cloch: a stone or may also indicate a stone castle, as in Cloghbrack, parish of Donanaughta or Eyrecourt. In this case this translates as ‘the speckled stone’, with a stone or physical feature of that nature being indicated in the adjacent modern townland of Lissanacody on the 1838 O.S. map of Ireland. ‘Cloch’ + ‘breac’ (speckled).
Clochain: a series of stepping stones across a river or otherwise a stone castle, as in Cloghan, parish of Lusmagh, Co. Offaly, (formerly of Co. Galway), in which case it may refer to a stone castle, there being a tower house there since at least the early sixteenth century.
Cluain: a meadow, as in Brackloon, parish of Clonfert, the speckled meadow. Breaccluain, ie. Breac (speckled) + cluain or Cloonlahan, parish of Killoran, the broad meadow. Cluainleathan, ie. Cluain + leathan (broad), where stood a ruinous castle of a branch of the O Maddens in the early seventeenth century.
Cnoc: a hill, as in Knockmoydarregg, an ancient placename covering a large area in the vicinity of what is now known as Redmount Hill. From ‘cnoc’ (hill) + ‘magh’ (a plain) + ‘dearg’ (red), ‘the hill of the red plain’. It is noteworthy that upon the eastern slope of the modern Redmount Hill lies the modern townland of Rooghan, meaning ‘reddish land’, derived from another Irish word for the colour red, that is ‘rua’.
Coill: a wood, as in Kylemore, modern parish of Lawrencetown, meaning the large wood. Given the pronounciation locally of the ‘kyle’ in this case, it is in all likelihood an Anglicisation of ‘coill’ as opposed to ‘cill’, a small church. Coill + mór (big)
Corn: a rounded hill, as in the townland of Coolacurn South, parish of Clonfert, ‘the rear of the rounded hill’, from ‘cúl’ (rear) + corn.
Creamh: wild garlic, as in the townland of Craughwell or Creamhchoill, the wood of the wild garlic. ‘Creamh’ + ‘coill’ (wood).
Cruach: a stacked or rounded hill, a diminutive of which is ‘cruachán’, ‘a small stacked hill’, as in ‘Crockaunduff’ (pronounced locally as ‘crookawndoo’) ‘the small stacked hill of the sandhill’ or the ‘black small stacked hill’, a local placename given on the 1838 Ordnance Survey Map as the location of a graveyard. From ‘Cruachán’ + ‘dumhach’ (genetive singular ‘duimhche’, a sandhill or sandy ground’) or ‘Cruachán’ + ‘dubh’ (black). Given its location about a gravel pit and on a sandy hill near the side of the public road, in the townland of Killnaborris, the former is a likely translation. This was said locally to have been a childrens burial ground.
Currach: a marsh, as in the local placename of ‘the Curragh of Esker’, an area in the townland of Esker, parish of Clonfert. Also a similar area in the townland of Kilmacshane, about where a family named Dohenny lived in the late nineteenth century.
Dair: oak, the genitive singular and plural of which is ‘darach’. Refer also to ‘Doire’.
Doire: an oak wood; as in the modern townland of Derry, parish of Meelick.
Doirín: a small oak wood, the diminutive of ‘doire’, as in Derreenaphuca, in the townland of Moorfield or Gortnamona in the barony of Longford in east Galway. Given on the 1838 O.S. map as a small copse of wood on the verge of boggy land in that townland. Derreenaphuca, ‘the small oak wood of the ghost’. ‘Doirín’ + na (of the) + púca (ghost).
Eanach: a marsh; as in Killaltanagh, parish of Clonfert, the small church or wood on a height in marshy ground, an accurate description of that townland. Cillailteanagh or Coillailteanagh ie. Cill or Coill + alt + eanach or Annaghcorrib, parish of Clonfert, meaning ‘the marsh of the Comharba.’ Eanach + Comharba (an ecclesiastical reference, a title referring to the successor of a founder of a church or monastery.)
Eiscir: a sandhill, a sandy glacial ridge, as in the townland of Esker, parish of Clonfert, containing a sizeable sand ridge. Also the townland of Eskerboy, parish of Abbeygormican, ‘the yellow sand ridge’, from ‘Eiscir’ + buí (yellow).
Eóchoill: a yew wood, from Eó (yew) and coill (wood), as in the townland of Oghil More, modern parish of Lawrencetown, formerly part of the parish of Clonfert. Eóchoill mór, ie. the large yew wood, as opposed to the adjacent townland of Oghil Beg, the small yew wood, from ‘beag’, meaning ‘small’.
Faiche: (older spelling ‘faithche’ or ‘faidhche’) a grassed level area for exercise, assembly, etc., often near a residence or church, as in the parish of Fahy, barony of Longford.
Feannóg: a scaldcrow or grey hooded crow, as in Carrownafinnoge, parish of Fahy, the quarter of the scaldcrow. Ceathrú na feannóige, ie. Ceathrú (quarter) + feannóg.
Fiodh: a wood, as in the townland of Feaghmore eighter, the lower big wood. Fiodh mór íochtar, ie. fiodh + mór + íochtar (upper). Similarly for the two adjacent townlands of Feaghmore oughter, the upper big wood, from uachtar (upper) and Feaghbeg, the little wood, from beag (small). Also the modern townland of Fynagh, parish of Clonfert, translated from ‘fiodhnach’, meaning ‘woody’ or ‘a woody place’.
Fuarán: a cold spring, derived from ‘fuar’ meaning ‘cold’. Killoran, a parish in the barony of Longford or a townland in the parish of Clonfert, barony of Longford, meaning the small church or wood of the spring. Cill fhuaráin or Coill fhuaráin, ie. Cill or Coill + fuarán.
Garraí: (older spelling ‘gárrdha) a garden, as in the townland of Garryduff, parish of Clonfert, on the south bank of the River Suck, meaning ‘black garden’, a reference to the black soil occurring locally.
Gort: a tilled field, as in Gortnakilla, parish of Donanaughta or Eyrecourt, the tilled field of the wood. While kill may indicate a church or a wood, depending on the original Irish root word, the correct root word may not be clear, both being pronounced similarly in some cases after translation. In the case of Gortnakilla, the use of the name Woodfield in identifying a house in that townland in the nineteenth century points to this being ‘the tilled field of the wood’. Gort na coille, ie. Gort + coill (wood). Also Gortnamona, parish of Clontuskert, the tilled field of the peat, bogland or moor, from ‘gort’ + ‘móin’ (peat, bogland or moor), ‘móna’ being the genitive singular of ‘móin.’ Similarly with the modern townland of ‘Moorfield or Gortnamona’ in the parish of Fahy, whose alternative Moorfield is a direct translation of the original Irish name.
Gráig: a village, as in the townland of Ardgraigue, parish of Kilquain or Quansboro, which would appear to translate as ‘the high village’ from ‘Ard’ (high) + ‘gráig’.
Inis: an island, as in Coorinch, an island in the River Shannon, lying across from the parish of Fahy and the townlands of Slaghta and Callowmore, meaning ‘curved or bent island’. From ‘cuar’ (curved or bent) + ‘inis’. Also the townland of ‘Pollnahincha’, about an island on the Kilcrow river, meaning ‘the hole of the island’, from ‘poll (hole) + ‘inis’ (‘inse’ being the genitive singular).
Ladhar: a fork or the area formed between a fork in a geographical feature such as between rivers, as in the seventeenth century two quarters of Leyre, in the parish of Clonfert, which appears as ‘Lyre’ to the west of Annaghcorrib on Pettys Map. This would indicate its position as having been located between two streams.
Leac: a flagstone or flat stone, as in the modern townland of Tullinlicky, parish of Fahy, the hillock of the flagstone. Tulach na leice, ie. Tulach + leac (flagstone). Also the parish of Lickmolassy, barony of Longford, ‘the flagstone of St. Molaise’. Leac + Molaise (St. Molaise).
Léana: a low-lying grassed place, as in Lenamore, parish of Clonfert, ‘the large low-lying grassy area’, from Léana + mór (big).
Lios: a circular enclosure about an early dwelling house, often called in the modern period a ringfort or the area enclosed by the palisade of a ringfort, as in Lismafadda, parish of Meelick, the ringfort of the long plain. Liosmhaighfada, ie. Lios + magh + fada (long)
Longphort: a stronghold or encampment, as in Longford, parish of Tirenascragh, the stronghold. Longphort Uí Mhadadhain, ‘the stronghold of O Madden, from which the barony of Longford, Co. Galway derives its name.
Machaire: a plain, as in Magheranearla, the plain of the Earl. Machaire an Iarla, ie. Machaire + an Iarla (the Earl).
Magh: a plain, as in the parish of Lusmagh, the plain of the herbs, now of County Offaly, once of the barony of Longford, Co. Galway. Lusmhaigh, ie. Lus (Herb) + magh
Milic: a marsh. The parish of Meelick, barony of Longford, County Galway, located along the banks of the Shannon river and some of which is liable to flood. It has been suggested that the gaelic origin of this word is derived form a combination of ‘magh’ (a plain) and ‘fliuch’ (wet).
Móin: a moor or bog or also peat, as in the townland of ‘Moorfield or Gortnamona’, parish of Fahy, the English version of which is an almost direct translation, ‘the tilled field of the moor or bog’. Gort (tilled field) + Móin (‘móna’ being the genitive singular).
Muiceannach: a place for pigs, as in the townland of Muckanagh, parish of Meelick. Derived from ‘muc’, a pig. Also, Tobermuckinagh, ‘the well at the place for pigs’, a site on the edge of bogland in the townland of Esker, parish of Clonfert and referring to a well at one time located there, from ‘tober’ + ‘muiceannach’ (a place for pigs).
Muing: (or Moing) marshy land or a fen with overgrown vegetation as in the townland of Muingbaun, parish of Kilquain or Quansboro, meaning ‘the white fen’, from ‘Muing’ + ‘bán’ (white).
Oileán: an island, as in the island of Illaunadroughearla, on the River Shannon, opposite the townland of Kilhonerush or Woodlands, in the parish of Meelick, meaning ‘the island of the bad Earl’, from ‘oileán + droch (bad) + Iarla (Earl), a reference in all likelihood to either the de Burgh Earl of Ulster or Burke Earl of Clanricarde. Also Illaunnacalliagh, an island on the River Shannon between the parishes of Meelick and Lusmagh, meaning ‘the island of the hag’, from ‘oileán’ + ‘calliagh’ (hag). Also the small island, since disappeared, of Illaunaphuca, to the east of the island of Incherky between Meelick and Lusmagh, meaning ‘the island of the ghost’. From ‘oileán’ + ‘púca’ (ghost).
Poll: a hole or small pool or puddle, as in Pollnambraher, a pool of water or a hole indicated in the modern townland of Ballynakill, parish of Clonfert, on the 1838 Ordnance Survey Maps, and meaning ‘the hole of the (religious) brothers, a likely reference to the monks of Clonfert Abbey near whose former lands in the adjacent townland of Abbeyland it was located. Poll + bráthair (brother).
Rath: an earthen rampart or a palisade surrounding a ringfort or circular early farmstead, as in the townland of Raheen or in Irish ‘Raithín’, ‘the little rath’, the suffix ‘ín’ indicating a diminutive form of the subject.
Riasc: a marsh. The modern townland of Reask, parish of Clonfert, on the banks of the Shannon, much of which is liable to flood. Reaskmore, parish of Fahy, the large marsh. Riasc mór, ie. riasc + mór (large)
Ros: a wooded headland, as in the townland of Dooros, to the southwest of Redmount Hill, meaning a ‘black wooded headland’. Dubhros, ie. Dubh (black) + ros.
Sceach: a thorn bush, as in the townland of Skecoor, ‘the curved or bent thorn bush.’ From ‘sceach’ + ‘cuar’ (curved or bent). Also the townland of Skahanagh, meaning ‘a place with many thorn bushes).
Sruthán: a small stream, from ‘sruth’ a stream, as in the townland of Srahaun, parish of Clonfert.
Teach: a dwelling house. Refer also to ‘Tigh’.
Tigh: A house, as in Tynagh (pronounced locally as ‘Tee-nah’) or Tigh nEochaidh, the house of Eochaidh, the ancient name of the village of Tynagh in the barony of Leitrim, Co. Galway, corrupted to ‘Tine’ in modern State translations. Refer also to ‘Teach’.
Tobar: a well, as in Tobermuckinagh, ‘the well at the place for pigs’, a site on the edge of bogland in the townland of Esker, parish of Clonfert and referring to a well at one time located there, from ‘tober’ + ‘muiceannach’ (a place for pigs). Also Toberoran, ‘the well of the cold spring’, in the parish of Killoran, from ‘tobar’ + ‘fuarán’ (a cold spring).
Tóchar: a timber walkway or causeway laid over a bog or marsh, as in Lissatogher, a number of liosanna or ringforts identified as Lissatogher forts, in the modern townland of Skecoor, parish of Kiltormer on the 1838 O.S. map and meaning a lios of the timber causeway on the bog or marsh. ‘Lios’ (a circular enclosure about an ancient dwelling place) + ‘tóchar’.
Trian: a third part, as in the townland of Treananearla, in the south of the barony of Longford, ‘The third part of the Earl’ or ‘the third part possessed by the Earl’, a likely reference to the Earl of Clanricarde. ‘Trian’ + ‘an Iarla’ (the Earl).
Tuam: a raised burial ground or tumulus, as in the modern townland of Timsallagh or Spring Grove, which appears to translate as ‘the raised burial ground of the sallows’, from ‘Tuam’ + ‘saileach’ (the genitive plural of ‘sail’ a willow or sallow tree). The ‘grove’ element of the alternative name of the older Irish name would suggest this ‘sallow’ meaning as opposes to the Irish word ‘salach’, ‘dirty.’
Tulach: a small hill, as in the modern townland of Tully, near Eyrecourt or Tullinlicky, parish of Fahy, the hillock of the flagstone. Tulach na leice, ie. Tulach + leac (flagstone)
Uisce: water, as in Lissaniska, parish of Kilquain or Quansboro, meaning the lios of the water. Lios (enclosed area of a ringfort) + uisce.