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Naming the Land: Reflections on Co.Clare Place-Names by Michael Mac Mahon


1. Frank Ormsby (ed.) The Collected Poems of John Hewitt (Blackstaff Press, Belfast 1991), p.386.

2. Patrick J. O'Connor, An Atlas of Irish Place-names, (Oidhreacht na Mumhan, Newcastle West 2001), 4.

3. Nollaig Ó Muraíle, 'Settlement and Place-Names' in Duffy, Edwards & Fitzpatrick (eds.) Gaelic Ireland c.1250-c1650, (Dublin 2001), 223.

4. Ibid.

5. M.A. O'Brien, 'Place-names' in J.A. Meenan and D.A. Webb (eds.) A View of Ireland, Dublin 1957, 191.

6. ibid.

7. J.O' Donovan (ed.) The topographical poems of Seán Mór Ó Dubhagáin and Giolla Na Naomh Ó hUidhrín (Dublin 1862), 111-162.

8. Uí Fearmaic (the old name for Inchiquin barony) is frequently referred to in the annals as the upper cantred (i.e of Dál gCais).

9. Tulach Uí Dheá (i.e. Tullyodea in Ruan parish).

10. Inagh parish. The poet is slightly mistaken here as there is ample evidence, as we will see presently, that the nearby parish of Kilnamona was the patrimony of the Cinel Baoith.

11. This surname survived as Mye in the district down to a generation ago and the family are thought to have been coarbs of the ancient church at Kilnamona. See Gaynor, 'Kilnamona called Kinelbuith' in Molua 1941, p.17.

12. Calendar of Papal Letter, ix, p.149; C.P.L.. xi, pp.251, 500, xii p. 167.

13. Ó hUidhrín, Top. Poem, 127.

14. O' Donovan & O' Curry, The antiquities of Co. Clare, (CLASP Press, Ennis 1997), 21.

15. ibid, 21-23.

16. ibid..

17. T.J. Westropp, Folklore of Clare, (Ennis 2000), 87.

18. Essay contributed to the Irish Times, the relevant excerpt from which is quoted in Seamus Heaney's Preoccupations: selected prose 1968-78, (London 1980), 139- 40.

19. The learned tales of medieval Ireland, Dublin, 1980, p. 27.

20. Seamus Heaney, Preoccupations…, 132.

21. O’ Connor, Atlas…, p. 10.

22. Hubert Butler, humanist and scholar, as quoted in Donnchadh Ó Corráin, 'A Future for Irish Place-names' in A. Ó Maolfabhail (ed.) The place-names of Ireland in the third Millennium, Dublin 1992, 36 [hereafter Ó Curráin, Placenames]

23. Ó Corráin, placenames. 43.

24. Westropp, Folklore, 67.

25. This number is based on the list of townlands in the 1851 census of population, the first census following the new Ordnance Survey arrangement. In calculating the total I have disregarded a number of islands, generally small, that have no specific names but appear in the townlands column on the census under such designations as 'one other island' or 'seven small islands' etc.. In Ireland as a whole there are exactly 62,205 townlands.

26. T. Jones Hughes, ‘Town and Baile in Irish Place-Names,’ in Irish Geographical Studies, Belfast 1970.pp. 244-258. (This is probably the most comprehensive study of Irish townlands to date).

27. Tandragee (Tóin-re-gaeith) in Co. Armagh is a corrupt variant.

28. P.J. O'Connor, Atlas… 5.

29. T.Jones Hughes, op. cit.

30. Ibid.

31. Some fifty-one per cent of all the placenames that have Rath as an element are located in the province of Leinster – O’ Connor, Atlas, p.131.

32. For a more expanded account of the archaic land divisions see Mac Mahon, 'Old territorial divisions and land measures...', The Other Clare, xxiv, 37-42.

33. From the Irish An trian meadhonach, the middle third. Ballymena (the middle town) has the same derivation, as has the barony of Middlethird in Co.Tipperary.

34. In framing the Strafford Survey the ground which was not then profitable was excluded - Minutes of the select committee appointed to consider what provisions it may be expedient to establish for regulation of the Grand Jury presentments of Ireland, H.C. vii (353), 1822, p.11

35. E. Hogan, Onomasticon Goedelicum et locorum Hiberniae et Scotiae. Dublin 1910. An electronic copy of a new edition of Hogan's Onomasticon produced by the Locus Project in UCC is now available on the Documents of Ireland website. The project aims to produce a new Historical Dictionary of Irish place-names and tribal names to replace Fr. Hogan's Onomasticon Goedelicum. The first volume of the revised Onomasticon has been published by the Irish Texts Society as: Historical Dictionary of Gaelic Place-names Foclóir Stairiúil Áitainmneacha na Gaeilge (London, 2003) xxxiv.

36. James Hardiman, ‘Ancient Irish Deeds and Writings chiefly relating to Landed Property from the twelfth to the seventeenth centuries with translations, notes and a preliminary essay’, in Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, XV, 1826, pp. 36-48.

37. Frost, The History & Topography of the County of Clare (Mercier Press edition, 1973) 4-7; 36-39.

38. Seán Ó hÓgáin, Conntae An Chláir, Baile Átha Cliath, 1938.

39. The Down Survey Barony maps survive for Bunratty (Upper and Lower), Moyarta, Corcomroe, and for one parish (Killinaboy) in the barony of Inchiquin.

40. This record is kept in the Representative Church Body Library, Braemor Park, Dublin. Excerpts from the Account Book will be found in Canon Dwyer’s His. of the Diocese of Killaloe. Dublin 1878.

41. Fiants-Elizabeth, Appendix to Fifteenth

42. O’ Muraile, Settlement & place-names, 228.

43. Breandán Ó Cíobháin, ‘Logainmneacha-barúntacht Mhaigh Fhearta, Co. An Chláir’ in Dinnseanchas 1968-71. (The place-names were collected in Moyarta, Killballyowen, Kilfeeragh and Scattery.)

44. T. Robinson, The Burren: a map of the uplands of north-west Clare, (Roundstone 1983).

45. Ó Corráin, Placenames’ , 35.

46. ibid., 36, 44-45.