Irish Placenames

Identifying an Irish place name

Most problems with Irish placenames have to do with peculiar phonetic renderings of the original Irish language names. When trying to identify the location of a name, keep in mind that English cannot cope with some of the sounds of Irish. Some imagination and persistence may be needed. The most common problems and solutions are listed below.

The most changeable sounds are vowels and vowel-like sounds - a, e, i, o, u, gh, ch. Thus the original Irish Drum na Roghan might be rendered as Drumrown, Drimnyrone, Drommnarone, Dramrowny etc.

Common Irish Placename Elements




Ath ford Agha-, Ath-, Aha-, Agh-, A-
Baile town/homeplace Bally-, Bal-, Ball-, Ballina-, Ballyna-
Carrig rock Carrig-, Carrick-
Ceathru quarter Carra-, Carrow-, Curra-, Curragh-, Car-, Curry-
Cill Church Kil-, Kill-
Cluan meadow Cloon-, Clon-
Cnoc hill Knock-
Cúl rear Cool-, Cul
Domhnach Sunday/Church Donny-, Dunna-, Donna-
Dún fort Dun-, Don-
Drum hillock Drum-, Drim-, Drom-
Gort field Gurt-, Gort-
Inis island Inis-, Inish-, Inch-, Insh-
Leath half Le-, La-
Rath fort Rath-, Ra-
Tamhlagh grave Talla-, Tamla-
Tullach hill Tulla-, Tul-, Toll-

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