Meanings of Irish place names

Many of the place names in Ireland are anglicised versions of the way the original Irish (Gaelic) name was spoken. The settlers tried to preserve the place names by writing them phonetically in English. Although this resulted in some beautiful sounding place names, it lost the meaning behind them.

This list is not exhaustive, but gives examples of the more common elements of Irish place names.


If you would like a translation of any Irish place name, email me and I will do my best to help you.

For a very good site on place names, see http://www.n-ireland.co.uk/genealogy/placenames/

Another useful site for placenames is http://www.ulsterplacenames.org/ the Ulster Place-Name Society

Irish word Meaning Examples of placenames
achadh field Aghadoe
ard hill, height Ardagh, Ardmore
áth ford Adare, Athenry, Athlone
baile town, townland Ballydehob, Ballina, Ballinlough
béal mouth (usually of river) Ballyshannon, Belclare
beann peak, pointed hill Binroe, Benburb
bóthar road Stoneybatter, Boherduff
bun bottom, mouth of a river Bunclody, Buncrana, Bundoran, Bunratty
caiseal circular fort Cashel
carn cairn, heap of stones Carndonagh, Carnew, Carnlough
carraig a rock Carrick, Carrickfergus, Carrickmacross
ceapach tillage plot Capparoe, Cappamore
cill church Killarney, Kildare, Kilcullen, Kilkenny
cluain meadow Clones, Clonmel, Clontarf, Clontibret
cnoc hill Knock, Knockroe, Knocktopher
coill a wood Kilclare, Kilgowan, Killylea, Kilturk
cruach rounded hill Croaghbeg, Croaghpatrick
cúil corner, nook Coleraine, Coolgreaney
cúl back Cullohill, Coolcullen
cúm hollow Coomcallee, Coomclochan
doire oak wood, grove Derry, Derrycarna, Derrygarriv
domhnach Sunday, a church Donaghadee, Donaghmore, Donnybrook, Rathdowney
droim ridge, hillock Drumcree, Dromkeen, Drumanoo, Drumcondra
dún fort, palace Doneraile, Dundrum, Dunloe, Dunmanway
eiscir esker Ahascragh, Esker
fionn clear, white Finglas, Fintragh
glaise small river Glasagh
glaisín stream Glasheencoombaun
gleann glen, valley Glendalough, Glenealy, Glenroe
gort tilled field Gortboy, Gortahork
inbhear mouth of a river Dromineer, Inver
inis island, water meadow Ennis, Inch, Inistioge, Lahinch
leitir hillside Letterkenny, Lettermore
lios ring fort Lismore, Listowel
loch a lake Lough, Loughbeg, Loughrea
lorga shin-shaped Lurgan, Lurganboy
a plain Moy, Moyard, Moyglass
machaire a plain Maghera, Magherafelt
mám mountain pass Maum, Maumtrasna, Maumturk
muileann a mill Mullinahone, Mullinavat, Mullingar
mullach a summit Malahide, Mullagh, Mullaghmore
poll a hole Pollans, Pollrone
port bank of a river, landing place Portmarnock
port stronghold, fort Portlaoise
ráth circular fort, earth mound Raheen, Raheny, Rathkeale, Rathmore
ros wood, headland New Ross, Roscommon, Roscrea
rua(dh) red Ardroe, Capparoe, Carraroe, Monroe, Portroe, Slieveroe
sean old Shandon, Shankill, Shanmullagh
sliabh mountain Slemish, Slievenamon, Slievenamuck, Slieveroe
termon church lands Termon, Termonfeckin
trá strand Tralee, Tramore
tuaim burial mound Tuam, Tuamgraney
tulach hillock, mound Tullamore, Tulrahan
uaimh cave Mullinahone, Ovens, Navan
Trish Loughman, Dublin, Ireland © 1997-2014

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