Several of my Canadian readers have asked me to do a piece on place names. As a Canadian, it’s hard to fathom that the address ‘Finola Finlay, Ard Glas, Greenmount, Ballydehob, Co. Cork, Ireland’ could actually get to me – “What?” you say, “No street address? No postal code? And how on earth do you pronounce Ballydehob?” (Actually, just Ballydehob, Ireland, would probably make it to me.)
When Ireland was mapped by the Ordnance Survey in the 1820’s to 1840’s, place names were Anglicised mostly by trying to reproduce the Irish names phonetically. With some basic knowledge of Irish it is possible to winkle out the meaning of many place names. The smallest unit of land recorded on the maps is the ‘townland’. This being Ireland, the term ‘townland’ has nothing to do with a town but is a defined geographical area, probably based on very ancients divisions. Townlands vary in size, but 300 acres would be typical. In rural areas, the address often includes the name of the house (Ard Glas), the townland (Greenmount), the nearest town with a post office (Ballydehob) and the County (Cork).
ANNOUNCING OUR FIRST COMPETITION!
Below is a basic Irish-English dictionary of common place name words. Use it to translate the names of some West Cork place names – submit your responses by clicking on ‘Leave a Comment’ at the end of this post. Use your imagination, your poetic sense, your personal lexicographic preferences and your sense of humour. There will be LOVELY PRIZES for the best entries!!!
|Words for||Irish word (translation)||Pronounced|
|Field||Gort (small field)||Gurt|
|Cappagh (tilled field)||CAppa|
|Settlement||Liss or lios (round earthen enclosure)||Liss|
|Dun (fortified enclosure)||Doon|
|Rath (round earthen enclosure)||Rath|
|Baile or Bally (settlement or town)||BOLL-yeh|
|Cill (small church)||Kill|
|Hill/Mountain||Ard (high place)||Ord|
|Drom (rounded hill)||Drum|
|Cnoc (hill, rocky)||K-Nuck|
|Terrain||Doire (oak wood)||Derry|
|Poul (hole, hollow)||Powl|
|Descriptive||Mor (large, big)||More|
|Dubh (dark, black)||Duv|
|-Een (as a suffix – diminutive: little, small)||Een|
Place Names around Roaringwater Bay
Oh and Ballydehob? It’s pronounced BAlly-dee-HOB. From the Irish Béal an Dá Chab, meaning ‘mouth of the two river fords’. Just to confuse things.
Could / Would anyone have any family history, or a list of the families that lived on Horse Island. My G. G. Grandfather Was an O’Regan from there.
Hi Mark – we recommend contacting the genealogy service at the Skibbereen Heritage Centre. They are very helpful. https://skibbheritage.com/genealogy/
Fantastic work. Your prize has been dispatched. No, not that one. The other one.
Having recently learned that prizes remain, I offer the following slapdash translations (to be spoken in an Irish accent, of course):
Cappaghglas = Place of the green tilled field
Gortnamona = That special place with the small boggy field
Gorteenakilla = You remember that really small field beside the small church? There.
Ballybane = The one-and-only town with the meadow.
Derreenard = The little high place, the one with oaks.
Lisheen = That little round earthen enclosure place.
Letterscanlan = The hillside where the little trapper lives.
Mullaghmore = The large summit; no, the other one.
Ardraha = That reddish, high place.
Cnocnacarriga = The rocky hill with more rocks; no: the one beside it.
Looking out for more entries. More prizes to be claimed!
Thank you for my LOVELY and SEASONAL PRIZE!! (Details omitted in case the same lovely prize is awarded to other contestants.)
And another stupendous piece of work – this time by our friend Chris Park.
Cappaghglas Green tilled field only in Ireland do the field remain green when tilled
Gortnamona Small boggy field Swamp
Gorteenakilla The small field with an even smaller Church
Ballybane White town or White Meadow
Derreenard High Oak woods
Lisheen Small hole in the ground Pit
Letterscanlan The attractive hillside worth looking at
Mullaghmore Big Peak
Cnocnacarriga Craggy Rock – Bottom Boot Boys
Lovely prize on its way!
Cappaghglas – The Place of Confusion (? I don’t see how it can be both green and tilled.)
Gortnamona – Bogfield (sounds very unattractive)
Gorteenakilla – Microfield
Ballybane – The Settlement Formerly Known as Meadow
Derreenard – The Backside of The High Place
Lisheen – The Outhouse
Letterscanlan (I give up on this one)
Mullaghmore – Gianthill
Ardraha – Goldmountain (raha seems to mean money in Estonian and Finnish)
Cnocnacarriga – The Really Really Rocky Hillside
Brilliant! A prize will be dispatched. Xx
On 2012-12-10, at 10:43 PM, Roaringwater Journal
Love Puzzles… will have to print out and find time to play!