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November 03, 2006


Notes from the recent excellent lecture on the derivation of townland names delivered by Rory Hopkins to the Cill Dara Historical Society in September.


Rory Hopkins
Kildares Townlands - Guide To Irish Land Division
Province –Leinster. In 300 BC, Labhradh Loingseach brought an army of Gauls from France to assist him in recovering the kingdom from his uncle. These foreign soldiers used a kind of broad pointed spear, called laighen [layen]; and from this circumstance the province in which they settled, which had previously borne the name of Galian, was afterwards called Laighen, which is its present Irish name. The termination `ster', which has been added to the names of three of the provinces, is the Scandinavian or Danish stadr, a place. Laighien-ster (the place or province of Laighen) would be pronounced Laynster, which is the very name given in a state paper of 1515, and which naturally settled into the present form, Leinster.
County –Kildare was "shired" by King John Lackland of England in 1210 creating an Anglo-Norman territory to be administered for the crown by the Earls of Kildare.
Barony – East Offaly – The name was derived from Ross Failghe the eldest son of Cathaoir Mor, King of Ireland A.D. 122-125. Ireland was divided into 273 baronies. They were composed of a larger number of townlands than a parish and are said to be an ancient form of administrative unit used for the collection of taxes etc
Civil Parish – East Offaly comprises the parishs Ballymany, Ballysax, Ballyshannon, Concurry, Dunmurry, Grangeclare, Kildare, Kilmeague, Lullymore, Pollardstown, Rathangan, Thomastown & Tully
Towns land - A townland is one of the smallest land divisions in Ireland.  There are over 60,000 of them and they range in size from an acre or two up to many thousands of acres.  The majority are in the hundreds of acres
Kildares Townlands
“The Townland system is considered to be one of the most distinguishing marks of Ireland and the term townland itself, while unknown in the homeland of the English language is recognised in all parts of Ireland”  (O Maolfababhail 1978)
“Townland names like the landscape to which they relate are precious records of the history, legends and mythology of their communities” (Loughrey 1986)
Petty 1683.jpg
Noble and Keenan 1752.jpg
Kildares Townlands – Preamble
Up to 95% of townlands whose names include and a ‘Family name’ followed by
‘Town’ are of Anglo-Norman origin examples of such names are Pollardstown,
Crotanstown, Walshestown, Brownstown and Maddenstown also area’s
with the word Grange which refers to Church land are of Norman
origin. For the purposes of this discussion I will concentrate on the Gaelic
 names. I will also include the earliest owner of the land and one owner/tenant
from Griffiths valuation from 1851 if possible.
Current Townlands Map.jpg
Analysis of Townlands.jpg
Gaelic Towns land    Norman Towns land   English Towns land
Kildares Townlands
The Curragh – Place of horse racing, The word cuirreach means a racecourse. The ancient name of Cuirreach Lifé shows that long ago the original plain reached that river’s banks, but since Anglo-Norman times it has been gradually encroached upon from all sides. The Curragh lay in the ancient territory of Magh Lifé, or Lifé’s plain, so called from Lifé, daughter of Mac Druchta, cup-bearer to Conaire Mór, King of Eire. Hence Abhann Lifé, or the River Lifé, running through Magh Lifé which was situated in the O’Byrne territory of Offelan.
Kildare (Cill Dara) - Church of the Oak
Drumcree (Dromcriadh) - ridge of clay
Tully – The little hill (a rising ground) THE KNIGHTS HOSPITALLERS who lived at Tully were monk soldiers organised to assist pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land and to protect the Places sacred to Christians which were in danger from the Mahommedan Infidels. Their first foundation was a hopsice in Jerusalem.The ensign of the order was a white flag with a black cross. Hence the Abbey was called ‘The Black Abbey.’ Owner 1641 Peter Sarsfield, Landowner/Tenant 1851 : Michael Conway
Botharcoy (Bothar Bui) – The Yellow road
Carna - monument of stones
Kildares Townlands
GreyAbbey -THE GREY ABBEY has its name from the grey habit worn by the Franciscan Friars. Lord William de Vesci built the monastery for the Friars in 1260. Later the lands of Kildare passed to John Fitzthomas and so to the Earls of Kildare. The monastery was suppressed about 1543 and its lands and buildings and valuables confiscated and granted to Daniel Sutton. Some of their property seems to have been overlooked, for in 1589 the remainder was confiscated. Owner 1641 Peter Sarsfield. Landowner 1851 Patrick Lee
Shanacloon – The old meadow (lands belonged to Franciscans 1260) Ballyshannon Naas?
New Town – Typically associated as plantation or post plantation towns (Not mentioned in 1641) Tenant 1851 Philip & Patrick Hopkins 
Silliot (Sillagh) – The place of the Sally’s (willows). Owner Peter Sarsfield. Landowner/Tenant 1851 Thomas Heffernan
Fennor (Fionnabhair) White field. Owner 1641 Maurice Fitzgerald. Landowner/Tenant 1851 John Dunne
 RathmuckThe fort of the pig. Owner 1641 Maurice Fitzgerald. Landowner/Tenant 1851 Martin Kelly
Grange beg - Little Grange 1851 James Behan
Ballygreany – The town of the sandy or gravely place. Owner 1641 Maurice Fitzgerald, Landowner/Tenant 1851 Edward O’Farrell
Kildares Townlands
Oghill – place of Yew wood - Landowner/Tenant 1851 John Hyland
Cross Maurice - 1520AD Battle of Crossmaurice. Maurice FitzGearld killed by the O'Mores of Leix. A cross marked the spot where he was killed.1851 Thomas Fitzgerald
Lackagh A place full of stones or flags. Owner 1641 James Fitzgerald, Landowner/Tenant 1851 Patrick Fitzgerald
Mynah - Little plain
Knocknagalliagh (Cnoc na gCailleach) – The hill of the nuns. 1641 owner John White. Landowner/Tenant 1851 Maurice Dooney
Knockshough – Hawk hill Landowner/Tenant 1851 Thomas Patterson
Grangeclare (Grainseach an chlair) – Grange of the Plain – outlying farm belonging to Hospital of St. John. Owner 1641 Charles Lord Moore, Landowner/Tenant 1851 Timothy Whelan
Loughminane (Loch­minane) - the formation of which is thus accounted for in the Feilire Aenguis in the Leabhar Breac: “Eighteen bishops came to Brigid to Loch Lemnachta, beside Kildare to the north. So Brigid asked her cook whether she had food, and she said she had none. And Brigid was embarrassed, so the angel said the cows should be milked again. And Brigid milked them, and they filled the tubs, and they would have filled all the vessels of Leinster, and the milk came over the vessels, and made a loch thereof. Hence the name Loch Lemnachta, lake of New Milk.” Landowner/Tenant 1851 Mary Cleary
Kildares Townlands
Rathbride – fort of Brigid (common around Ireland associated with places Brigid visited). Owner 1641 John Lye, Landowner 1851
Crockanure (Cnoc-an-iubhair)The hill of the yew tree
Fearann Dearg (not Bearg)–The red ploughed field
Cloghgerret –The stone (or stone castle) of Garret? Owner/Tenant 1851 Hugh Conlan
Collaghknock The land at the back of the hill Landowner/Tenant 1851 Patrick Connolly
Rathangan (Rath Iomghain) – Iomgan Rath
Dunmurry Murray’s Fort, Taxation value 1303 six marks, nine shillings. Owner 1641 Earl Of Kildare, Landowner 1851 Edward Medlicott
Red Hills“from the redness of the earth I suppose. There is a copper mine here said to be very rich, which is working these three years past, not with that spirit however which can only render undertakings of the kind of public importance.” - TOPHAM Bowden 1790
Carrigin Earle – The Earl’s Castle. Owner 1641 Earl of Kildare
Pollardstown- From the french surname for head (Value of 50 shillings in 1303)
Ballymany (Baile Meadhonach) – Middle Town
Kildares Townlands – The ones that got away!
Kilnagornan – The wood of the black smiths?
Loughandys – The lake of the swamp?
Loughlion – The lake of the children?
Duneany – Fort of the swamp ?
Rathwalkin – Fort of Walkin ?
Monasterevin Townlands
Townlands in the Civil Parish of Monasterevin
            The Townland in a Medieval and older territorial division based on a number of plough lands. In later times they formed the basis for rental assessments. The following is a list of townlands, their Irish name and meaning.
Ballyfarsoon: Baile an pearsan. Town of the Parson.
Barraderra: Baire a doire. Top of the oak wood.
Clogheen: Cloicin. A small stone or stone house (possibly St. Evin's bell house or oratory).       
Cloncarlin: Cluain Caireallain. Carolan's Meadow (also called Globe Island).
Clonegath: Cluain na gath. Meadow of the spears (possibly meaning battlefield).
Cowpasture: Possibly a commonage area.
Coolnefearagh: Cuail na Fearagh. The men's corner or grassy corner (a place of assembly).
Fearmore: Fiair Mor. Great Meadow.
Gorteen: Guirtin. A small garden or cultivated field.
Gorteenoona: From the same root as Gorteen.
Grangecoor: An out farm of the Cistercian monastery.
Kill: Cill or Coill. A church or wood.
Kilpatrick: Cill Pádraig. St. Patrick's Church.
Larchhill: A hill with a plantation of larch trees ? Does anyone have an Irish name for the area?   
Lughill: Liamh Coill. Elm Wood
Monasterevin: Manistir Eimhin. The Monastery of Evin.
Monasterevin Bog: The Bog of the Monastery of Evin
Moore Abbey:Originally called The House of Monasterevan.
Oghill: Eochaill. Yew Wood.
Oldgrange: The old grange or out farm of the Cistercian monastery.
Passlands: Possibly the land of the pass, associated with the Pass Bridge.
Skirteen: Scairtin. A little cluster of bushes or a thicket.
Toghereen: The Little Causeway (tracks over bogs dating to the Late Bronze Age are known throughout the area of Monasterevin).    
Meanings of Irish place names.jpg Meanings of Irish place names2.jpg

Notes from the recent excellent lecture on the derivation of townland names delivered by Rory Hopkins to the Cill Dara Historical Society in September.

Posted by mariocorrigan at November 3, 2006 09:12 PM