An Illustrated Guide to the Placenames of Ulster – Des O’Reilly


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Placenames whether they relate to natural features, flora and fauna or land divisions and settlement patterns are not arbitrary sounds without meaning. They should be regarded as records of the past that reveals something about the places in question and perhaps about the people who lived there. Over time the original meaning may have faded away or has been disguised as the Gaelic language gave way to the language of incoming settlers including English. In Ireland there is a comprehensive record of land divisions including townlands, civil parishes as well as baronies. At a different level in terms of scale there many thousands of minor names, microtoponyms, not all of which are recorded and are in danger of being lost. In addition, there are place names that refer to personal or family names that may be the only traces of the people who once inhabited the area.

This book is a comprehensive study of the placenames of Ulster etched on the landscape over time recorded like ancient writing in a palimpsest. It begins by looking at the various races and people who have come to Ireland and left traces of their presence in the names of places in which they resided. The remainder of the book consists of different themes each one of which generates its own corpus of placenames.

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