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Hugh Macauley

Reproduced, with the Society's permission, from the 1992 Journal of The Creggan Local History Society

In the Introduction to the second edition of "The Origin and History of Irish Placenames", P.W. Joyce states that anyone writing on Irish placenames is fortunate for two reasons. Firstly, the names are native Irish and are therefore intelligible as soon as their original form has been established. Secondly, the names are well-preserved from an early date in the Dinnscanchus, a form of storytelling which featured the description and naming of the places where the events had occurred.

To establish the name in its original form the earliest sources must be studied. These include old maps, surveys, Hearth Money Rolls and any other documents where the townland names have been listed. Local pronunciation is vitally important for very often an important clue may be found here. Joyce quotes the example of a townland called Lisnanees in Donegal. This defied derivation until he discovered that many local people added a final "g", making it Lisnaneesg, Lios na Naosc - the fort of the snipe.

The Name Books compiled by J. O'Donovan during the 1835 Ordnance Survey. list the ninety townlands below as berries in the old united Parish of Creggan which had been divided in 1795 into Creggan Upper (Crossmaglen) and Creggan Lower (Cullyhanna). One of the best known sources on these particular townland names is Fr. L. Murray's "Notes on the Derivations" in the appendix to Donaldson's "Account of the Barony of Upper Fews". Here Murray lists one hundred and thirty-four townlands of the Fews, giving their English names, Irish form and the meaning. It is largely from this source and from O'Donovan's Name Books that the derivations below have been compiled. The townlands are listed in alphabetical order irrespective of their present parish.

ALTNAMACKIN: Alt na Meacan, the hill of the wild parsnips (according to "Ainmneacha Gaeilge na mBailte Poist"), but I think Fr. Murray's Alt na Maighin the hill in the little plain. More likely since the townland was spelt Altnaoighan in earlier English versions.
ANNAGHGAD: Aonach na nGadai, the robbers' fair. The infamous couplet about the area between Carrickmacross and Crossmaglen is said to derive from here, according to tradition. But a more likely (and more charitable) derivation is Eanach na nGad, the marsh of the osiers.
ANAMAR: Ath na Marbh, the ford of the dead.
ANNAVACKY: Eanach a' Bhacaigh, the lame man's marsh. According to Conn Short of Rassan this townland was also written Annavacvachey, Eanach Mhac an Mharcaigh, the marsh of the rider's son.
BALLINAREA: Baile na Ri, the townland of the kings. but more likely Baile ail Ath' Ribhaigh, the shallow ford, because the early English form is Ballynerewe.
BALLINACARRY: Baile na Caradh, the townland of the weir. Earlier maps show Cortncarry instead.
BALLINACLOSHA: Baile na Cluaise, the townland of the car. But more likely Baile na Claise, the townland of the ditch.
BALLSMILL: Baile na gCleireach. the townland of the clergy (Murray)
CAMLY: Camla, a crooked hill. This is often followed by a surname, e.g. Camlyball, Ball's crooked hill. Fr. Murray also suggests Cam Liath, a grey bend.
CAPPAGH: Ceapach, a tillage-plot.
CARRICKACULLION: Carraig ail Chullinn, the rock of the holly tree.
CARRICKAMONE: Carraig na Monadh. the rock of the bog
CARNALLY: Carn Eallaigh. the cairn of the cattle.
CARRAN: Carn, the cairn.
CAVANANORE: Cabhan na Mothar, the hill (or hollow) of the thickets. The word Cabhain generally means a hollow, but in Ulster it can also mean a round hill.
CLARNAGH: Clar ail Atha. the level place of the ford.
CLARBANE: Clar Ban, the white level place or the waste (or empty) level place.
CLOGHOGE: Clochog, a rocky place.
CLONALEENAGHAN: Cluain Ui Lionachain, Lenaghan's meadow.
CLONALIG: Cluain na Leac, the meadow of the flatstones. Older English form is Clonligge, Cluain Lice, the meadow of the flagstone.
COOLDERRY: Cul Doire, the far oakwood.
CORLISS: Con-Lios, the round fort.
CORNAHOVE: Corr na hUaighe. the round hill of the grave or Corr na hUaimhe, the round hill of the cave or souterrain.
CORNONAGH: Corr Abhna, the round hill of the river.
CORTAMLAT: Corr Tamhlachta, the round hill of the mass-grave.
COURTBANE: Cuart Bhan, the white court or the empty court. There is an old ruin in the townland called the Chancre (Sean-Chuirt old court).
CREENKILL: Crion-choill, the dry or rotten wood
CREEVEKEERAN: Craobb-Chaorthainn, the seat of the mountain ash.
CREGGAN: An Creagan, the rocky place.
CREGGANBANE: An Creagan Ban, the white rocky place. "Once Glebeland and therefore more cultivated than Cregganduff' (Nelson).
CREGGANDUFF: An Creagan Dubh. the black rocky place.
CROSSMAGLEN: Cros Mhic Lionnain, McGlynn's Crossroads. Originally known as Cross, the inn-keeper's name being added later.
Also Crois Mi Gleanna, the crossroads in the plain of the glen.
CULLAVILLE: Although O.S. Name Book 1834 gives Coll-choill, the hazel wood. Fr. Murray states that the derivation is English. i.e. McCulla's town.
CULLYHANNA: Old English spelling are Tullyannache or Tullyhannagh which supports Tullach Eanaigh. the marshy hill. Another version is Coilleach Eanaigh, the marshy forest.
DORSEY: Na Doirse, the doors or gateways - to Eamhain Macha, Navan Fort. Many of the Dorsey townlands are completed by the addition of a surname, e.g. Dorsey McDonald, Dorsey Hearty. etc.
DRUMALTNAMUCK: Drunn-Ailt-na-Muice, the ridge of the pig's height
DRUMBALLY: Drum-bhaile. the townland on the ridge.
DRUMBOY: Also entered in O.S. Name Book as Drumbee, Druim-Bui. the yellow ridge.
DRUMGOSE: Druim Guasach, the dangerous ridge.
DRUMLOUGHER: Drunn Luachra, the rushy ridge.
DRUMMUCK: Druim Muc, the pig's ridge.
DRUMMUCKAVAL: There are many variations in the Inquisitions, Census Papers, etc. Most likely derivation is Druim Mhic Cathmhaoil, McConville's ridge, or McCawell's ridge.
FREEDUFF: Fraoch Dubh, the black heather or heath.
GLASSDRUMMOND: Glas-Droman, the green ridge.
GLASSDRUMMONAGHEY: Glas-Droman Eochaidh, Haughey's green ridge.
KILLYCLESSY: Coill a'Chleasai, the trickster's wood.
KILTYBANE: Na Coilite Bana, the white woods.
LEGMOYLAN: Leac Maolain, Moylan's flat-stone. Fr. Murray gives Leac Maoilinn, the fat stone of the hill-brow.
LISAVERY: Lios Samhraidh, the summery fort.
LISCALGAT: Lios Calcachta, the fort of the stagnant water
LISSARAW: Lios a'Reatha, the fort of the racing. Donaldson contends that Rocque's Map (1760) shows a racecourse near the fort.
LOUGHROSS: Loch Rois, the lake of the Ross. Fr. Murray contends that the lake touches Fir-Rois territory.
LURGANCULLENBOY: Lorg an Chuilinn Bui, the track of the yellow holly.
MONAGUILLACH: Moin na gCailleach. the hags' bog (O'Donovan). Moi na Guailne. the hill bog.
MONOG: Moin Bhog, soft bog.
MOUNTHILL: Named after Rev. Hill. The Irish form is Baile an Achaidh, the townland of the field (Murray).
MOYBANE: Maige Bhan, the uncultivated plain.
MULLAGHDUFF: Mullach Dubh, the black ridge.
RASSAN: Rasan. the racecourse. Or alternatively, Rosan. a thicket or shrubbery.
RATHKEELAN: Rath Caolain. Keelan's fort.
SHANMULLAGH: Sean-mullach, the old hill
SHELAGH: Sealach, the seal. Tradition tells that a turnpike was situated in this townland and that goods were marked with a seal as they passed through.
SHEETRIM: Si-Dhruim, the fairy ridge
SHILLAND: Siollan, a withe or osier. Or Siollin, a winnowing place.
SKERRIFF: Scairbh, a shallow ford. The townland name is generally completed by the addition of a surname, e.g. Skerriff Tichburn. etc.
TAWNAMORE: Tamhnach Mor, the large green field.
TEER: Tir...... the land of..... . Fr. Murray contends that part of the name has been lost. Tir is generally followed by a person's name, e.g. Tir Eoghain, Tir Chonaill
TREAGH: Triucha. an old measure of land.
TULLYARD: Tullach Ard, the high hill.
TULLYDONNELL: Tullach Donail, Daniel's hill or O'Donnell's hill.
TULLYNAVALL or: Tullach na bhFal, the hedged hill.
TURNAWALL: Tor na bhFal. the hedged round hill.
TULLYOGALLAGHAN: Tullach Ui Cheallachain, O'Callaghain's hill
TULLYVALLEN: Tullach Alainn, the beautiful hill or Tullach Ui Mheallain, Mallon's hill. Tullyvallen is another townland which is often completed by tile addition of a personal name, e.g. Tullyvallen Haimilton.
UMMIERICAM: Iomaire Cam, the crooked ridge.
UMMERINVORE: Iomaire Mhor, the big ridge.
URKER: Urcar, a cast or throw. Two derivations - one possible, one impossible. To take the impossible first - Fionn Mac Comhail threw two stones from the top of Slieve Gullion, one landing at Urker and the other at Carran. The more prosaic explanation is that there was a church between Cross and Creegan at Killyloghran (O'Lochrainn's Church) and the "cast" referred to the funeral practice of mourners each casting a stone to form a cairn on or near the grave. Another explanation is that at Urker mourners first caught sight of Creggan graveyard and built their cairn at that point.

Everyone with an interest in placenames is pleased to hear that at present the Celtic Department of Queen's University, Belfast, is completing a survey of the placenames of each of the Six Counties. This work has been commissioned by the Department of the Environment (N.I.) and it is hoped that the results will be made available to the public sometime in the future. Until such time the keen amateur can delve into the Name Books, the Inquisitions, the Census returns and all the documents that will yield a clue to the meaning of a name. The student who concerns himself with his own local area has a decided advantage. More than likely he knows the local traditions, the sites of fairs and old churches, where the mills were in his own district and against this rich background knowledge he can test the validity of his conclusions. Such amateur detection will provide many hours of pleasure, perhaps a little frustration when false clues emerge,. but in the end the student will derive the benefit of having the social history of his native place enshrined in the townland names, in the names of the rivers and the fields of the district.