Irish Place names

Irish place names often give you a clue why the town or city was named as it was.  For instance take "Ovens" in County Cork.  It sounds in English like a misleading name.  Actually "Ovens" comes from a shortened version of the Irish word "Uamhanna" (Oovana) meaning Caves, which are in existance in the area. This goes to show that a townlands name can conjure up completly misleading images.

This table shows general terms in Irish and their meanings.


height or high

"Aglish" (Aglish)

means a church

"Baile"( Balla )

meaning town or townland.

"Ath"( Ah )

means a ford in a river or stream

"Carraig" ( Carrig )

meaning a rock

"Ballagh" ( Balach)

means a road

"Bother" (Boher)

means a road

"Cill " ( Kill )

Means a church

"Beag" (Beg )


"Clon" (Clon )

means a piece of fertile ground or a meadow

"Caher" ( Caher)

is a circular stone fort

"Coill" (Kill )

a wood


a hurdle


the mouth of something, i.e. an entrance

"Dun" (Doon )

a fortress

"Dair" ( Dar )

an oak tree

"Daire " (Derry)

means an oak grove or wood

"Dearg" (Derg)

means red in colour

"Droichead" ( Drohed )

a bridge

"Druim" (Drum ) i

is a large ridge or long hill

"Fada"( Fada)


"Eas" ( Ass)

is a waterfall

"Faill" (Foyle)

a cliff

"Fert" (Fert)

a grave or trench

"Glas" (Glas)

green in colour

"Gleann" (Glen)

a glen or valley

"Gort" ( Gort)

a tilled field

"Inis" (Inis)

an island

"Cnoc" (Knock)

is a hill

"Loch" ( Loch)

a lake

"Leitir" (Letter)

a wet hill side

"Magh" (Mah )

a plain

"Muc"( Muck)

a pig

"Mor" ( More)

big or great

"Og" (Oge)

little or young

"Rath" ( Raw )

a circular fort

"Rinn" (Rinn)

point of land

"Sean" (Shan)


"Sidh" ( Shee)

fairy hill.

"Sibhean"( Shee -veen)

small fairy hill

"Sliabh" (Sleeve)

a mountain


a street

"Teach" (Tee-och)

a house


a causeway

"Tor" (Tor )

means a tower

"Torc" (Turk)

a boar

"Tuaim" (Toom)

burial mound

"Tulach" (Tulla)

a little hill


a cold spring

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Here are listed Irish place names and their origins:-

"Adare"- (Ath - Dara) meaning a ford by or with an oak tree

"Aghada" - (Ath -Fhada) means long ford

"Athlone" - (Ath-Luian) means Luain's ford

"Ardfert" - (Ard-Fert) means the high grave or height of the grave

"Ardpatrick"- (Ard- Patrick) St. Patrick's height

"Ballina" - (Bel-an-atha) mouth of the ford

"Boherbue" - (Boher-bue) means yellow road. Also " Boherboy"

"Ballybeg" - ( Baile - Beag) means small town

"Ballinlough" - ( Baile - Loch) means town of the lake

"Caherdaniel"- (Caher - Daniel) meaning Daniel's stone fort

"Cappaghmore"- (Cappagh-Mor) means a large tillage plot

"Clonmel"-(Cluain Meala) meaning the Vale of Honey

"Clonturk" - (Clon-Tuirc) means the boars meadow

"Cork"- (Corcach) means a marsh. The city was built on a marsh and part it is still known as the marsh

"Carrickfergus" - (Carraigh - Fergus) means Fergus's rock

"Cloghermore" - (Clogher - Mor) means large stoney land

"Donaghmore" - (Donagh - Mor) means great or big church

"Derry" - ( Doire) meaning an oak grove or wood

"Down" - (Dun) meaning a fortress

"Drogheda" - ( Droichead - Atha) means bridge of the ford

"Douglas" - (comes from Dubh - Ghlaise ) meaning black stream

"Donegal" - ( Dun - na - nGall) meaning settlement or fort of the Galls, there was a Danish settlement there before the Anglo / Norman invasion

"Dublin" - 1. (Dubh - Linn) means literally black pool, but traditional irish names it 2. (Baile - Atha - Cliath) this means the town of the ford of hurdles.This refers to the ancient artifical ford of hurdles that was built there.

"Druncondra" - (Druim - Condra) meaning Condra's ridge

"Edenderry" - (Eden, meaning a hill brow, and Daire) meaning hill brow of the oak grove "Gleangarriff" - ( Gleann - Garbh) means rough glen

"Innisfallen" - (Inis - Faithlenn) means Faithlenn's island

"Inishturk" - ( Inis - Tuirc) means the boars island

"Kanturk" - ( Ceann - Tuirc) the boars's head or hill

"Kenmare" - (Ceann - Mara) means the head of the sea..where it comes to

"Kildare" - (Cill - Dara) means church of the oak, or near the oak tree

"Killarney" - (Cill - Airne) means church of the Sloes

"Knocknamona"- ( Cnoc - na - Mona) means hill of the bog

"Lismore" - (Lois - Mor) means large earthen fort

"Listowel" - (Lois - Tuathail) means Tuathal's earthen fort

"Mayo" - (Magh - Eo) means plain of the Yews

"Mallow" - (Magh - Ealla) means plain of the Allo...a river

"Moyglass" - (Magh - Gals) means green plain

"Muckross" - ( Muc - Ross) peninsula of the pigs

"Oranmore" - (Uaran - Mor) big or great cold spring

"Parkmore" - (Pairc - Mor) big park or field

"Rathcormack" - (Rath - Cormac) Cormac's fort

"Rathduff" - (Rath - Duibh) black fort

"Skerries" - ( Sceire) meaning sea rocks

"Shandon" - ( Sean - Dun) means old fort

"Slievenamon" - (Sliabh - na - mban) meaning mountain of the women

"Tara" - ( Teamhair) means place on an elevated area

"Tralee" - (Traigh - Li) is Strand of the Lee....a river or stream there

"Tramore" - (Traigh - Mor) Big Strand

"Tullamore" - (Tulach - Mor) means big hill.....also "Tullymore"

"Trim" - ( Ath - Truim) meaning ford of the elder bushes it has now been shortened to just Trim

"Watergrasshill" - ( Cnocan - na - Biolraighe) meaning the little town of the water- cresses

"Youghal" - ( Eoghaill) meaning Yew wood

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So now when you see a village or town name, have a look at the Irish of the name and see if you can get the meaning or reason why the place is called what it is.

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