Place Names in Ireland, Two Rivers Gaelic League

Place Names in Ireland, Two Rivers Gaelic League


The Irish American Heritage Museum will host Place Names in Ireland, Two Rivers Gaelic League on May 28 at 7:00 PM. Donations appreciated. 

If you spend time studying a fairly detailed map of Ireland, it becomes clear that there are sounds and parts of words that appear over and over again in many place names. This is true of any culture (e.g. English -borough, -pool, -ham, -cester, -town; French -ville, German -burg). Ireland is no exception, except that its place names can trace their ancestry to three language families: Gaelic, English and Viking.

If you have the name of an Irish place name, it is often possible to work out its origins. Many of them are made up of descriptions of the neighborhood. For example, if there are two features, say lakes, close together, the larger one will often have -more in its name, and the smaller one -beg. Human structures also find their way into names: droichead is a bridge, and dun is a fortress. Many others are named after people, usually the lords who owned the lands on which they were built. Castledawson and Manorhamilton are examples.

A word of caution, however. A large number of Gaelic words sound similar, and in many cases the Anglicization of Gaelic place names has confused the spelling, making it look as if a place name means one thing when it actually means something completely different. Too many people fall into the trap of taking the English spelling, looking it up in an Irish dictionary and assuming they have the right meaning. Two Rivers Gaelic League will discuss the complexity of place names in Ireland. With many names being "lost in translation," this will be a fascinating look at meaning and the importance of names in historical geography.

370 Broadway

May 28 | 7:00 PM
Nearest Parking - OR