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Irish Placenames, a Spoofer's Guide

A lot of Irish placenames are Anglicised versions of the original Irish (Gaelic names). You can sometimes guess the original name by breaking the name into segments and working out th meaning of the different parts.

The table below gives (a not comprehensive list) of the anglicised parts, the corresponding Irish word, its meaning and some examples.

If you have any other examples we'd love to hear from you.

Anglicised Irish Word Meaning Examples
Agha  achadh  a field; level meadow.  Aghadoe  
Alt  alt  an eminence; high place; side of a glen.   
Anna; Annagh  eanach  a moor; marsh; soft terrain.   
Ard  ard  a height; hill; top; summit; lofty; higher ground.  Ardagh; Ardmore  
Ath; Agh  áth  a ford; shallow part of a river  Adare; Athenry; Athlone  
Ballagh  bealach  a roadway; passage; gap; pass.   
Bally  baile  town; townland  Ballydehob; Ballina; Ballinlough  
Barn; Barna  bearna  pass or gap in hill or mountain.  Barna  
Barr  barr  top; head; summit.   
Bawn Baun  ban  small field; enclosure; white coloured.   
Beagh  beithe  abounding with birch trees.   
Bell; Bally  béal  mouth (of river); entrance; estuary.  Ballyshannon; Belclare  
Ben  beann  peak; pointed hill  Binroe; Benburb  
Boher  bóthar  road; way; passage; lane.  Stoneybatter; Boherduff  
Boley  buaile  place for milking cows; booley or dairy place.   
Brack  breac  speckled; spotted; spotted with stones; furze hill.   
Bun  bun  bottom ( of hills or mountains); mouth of a river  Bunclody; Buncrana; Bundoran; Bunratty  
Caher; Cahir  cathair  stone fort; abode; city.  Cahir  
Cam  cam  crooked.   
Cappa; Cappagh  ceapach  plot of ground laid out for tillage.  Capparoe; Cappamore  
Carn  carn  cairn; heap of stones; rocky summit.  Carndonagh; Carnew; Carnlough  
Carrick; Carrig  carraig  a rock; crag or stone.  Carrick; Carrickfergus; Carrickmacross  
Carrow; Carhoo  ceathramhadh  quarter; measure of land.   
Cashel  caiseal  wall; bulwark; castle;circular fort  Cashel  
Cavan  cabhan  a hollow plain.   
Clar  clar  plain; flat piece of land.   
Clash  clais  furrow; deep ditch.   
Clogh  cloch  stone; rock; cliff.   
Clon; Cloon  cluain  plain; lawn; meadow.  Clones; Clonmel; Clontarf; Clontibret  
Cole  cúil  corner; nook  Coleraine; Coolgreaney  
Cool  cul  back; corner; angle.  Cullohill; Coolcullen  
Coom  cúm  hollow  Coomcallee; Coomclochan  
Cor; Corr  cor  a round hill.   
Cosh; Cush  cos  leg; foot; at the foot of; beside.   
Creeve  craobh  branch; bough; tree; bush.   
Croagh; Crogh  cruach  rick; stack; piled-up hill; rounded hill  Croaghbeg; Croaghpatrick  
Cross  cros  a cross.   
Cull; Cuill  coill  a wood.  Kilclare; Kilgowan; Killylea; Kilturk  
Curra; Curragh  currach  bog; marsh; soft plain.   
Derry  doire  an oak; oak wood.  Derry; Derrycarna; Derrygarriv  
Donagh; Donny  domhnach  Sunday; a church  Donaghadee; Donaghmore; Donnybrook; Rathdowney  
Doo  dubh  black.   
Doon; Dun  dún  fort; fortress; palace  Doneraile; Dundrum; Dunloe; Dunmanway  
Dreen; Drin  draighean  blackthorn.   
Drom; Drum  droim  the ridge of a hill.  Drumcree; Dromkeen; Drumanoo; Drumcondra  
Drom; Drum  druim  the ridge of a hill.  Drumcree; Dromkeen; Drumanoo; Drumcondra  
Eden  eadan  the forehead; brow of a hill.   
Esker  eiscir  esker; ridge of sand hills; ridge of mountains.  Ahascragh; Esker  
Farn  fearn  alder tree; place abounding in alders.   
Farran  fearann  land; ground; country.   
Fin  fionn  clear; white  Finglas; Fintragh  
Freagh  fraoch  heather; heath; a heathy place.   
Gal; Gall  gal  stranger; foreigner.   
Garran; Garraun; Garrane  garran  grove; wood; copse.   
Garrv  garrdha  garden.   
Glan; Glen  gleann  valley; glen.  Glendalough; Glenealy; Glenroe  
Glas  glas  green; of mountain; stream or meadow.   
Glas; Glash  glaise  small river  Glasagh  
Glasheen  glaisín  stream  Glasheencoombaun  
Gol; Goul; Gowl  gabhal  fork; the fork of a hill.   
Gort; Gurt;  gort  a tilled field or garden.  Gortboy; Gortahork  
Graigue  graig  village; manor.  Graiguenmanagh  
Greenan  grianan  sunny place; bower; summer house.   
Illan; Illaun  oilean  island.   
Inis; Inish; Inch  inis  an island; a field near a river or lake; water meadow  Ennis; Inch; Inistioge; Lahinch  
Inver  inbhear  mouth of a river  Dromineer; Inver  
Kell  caol  narrow; slender; straight.   
Kil; Kill  cill  a church or small monastery.  Killarney; Kildare; Kilcullen; Kilkenny  
Knock  cnoc  hill; hillock.  Knock; Knockroe; Knocktopher  
Lack; Leck; Lick  leac  stone; flagstone; slate.   
Lag; Leg; Lug; Lugg  lag  a hollow; glen.   
Laght  leacht  a grave; pile of stones in memory of the dead.   
Lear; Lyre  ladhar  a fork; forking of glens or rivers.   
Letter  leitir  hillside  Letterkenny; Lettermore  
Lis; Liss  lios  earthen fort; ring fort; fortified place ancient place.  Lismore; Listowel  
Lough  loch  a lake.  Lough; Loughbeg; Loughrea  
Lurg  lorga  shin-shaped  Lurgan; Lurganboy  
Maghera  machaire  a plain; level ground.  Maghera; Magherafelt  
Maul; Meel  meall  a hillock; eminence.   
Maum  mám  mountain pass  Maum; Maumtrasna; Maumturk  
Meen  min  a smooth spot on a hill presenting a green surface.   
Mon  moin  turf; peat; bog.   
Money  muine  brake; shrubbery; a hillock.   
Moy  magh  a plain; plain of hills.   
Moy;  má  a plain  Moy; Moyard; Moyglass  
Muck  muc  a pig or boar.   
Mullagh  mullach  top; summit; height; top of a hill].  Malahide; Mullagh; Mullaghmore  
Mullin  muileann  a mill  Mullinahone; Mullinavat; Mullingar  
Ovens  uaimh  cave  Mullinahone; Ovens 
Park  pairc  field; meadow.   
Poll; Pol; Poul  poll  hole; pit; a measure of land.  Pollans; Pollrone  
Port  port  a harbour; bank or landing place; stronghold; fort  Portmarnock; Portlaoise  
Rath  rath  earthen fort with trees; fortress; circular fort; earth mound  Raheen; Raheny; Rathkeale; Rathmore  
Ring; Rin; Rinn  rinn  a headland; promontory.   
Roe; Roo  ruadh  red; gorse clad hill.  Ardroe; Capparoe; Carraroe; Monroe; Portroe; Slieveroe  
Ros; Ross  ros  a promontory; isthmus; a grove or wood; wood; headland  New Ross; Roscommon; Roscrea  
Scart  scairt  a thick tuft of shrubs or bushes.   
Shan  sean  old; e.g. Shanbally (old town)  Shandon; Shankill; Shanmullagh  
Slieve  sliabh  mountain  Slemish; Slievenamon; Slievenamuck; Slieveroe  
Sound  Irish word  Meaning  Examples of placenames  
Sra; Sragh; Srah  srath  a field on the bank of a river.   
Tawnagh; Tawny  tamhnach  a small field.   
Temple  teampall  a church or temple.   
Termon  termon  church lands  Termon; Termonfeckin  
Ti  tigh  a house.   
Tir  tir  land; country; region.   
Tober  tobar  well; fountain; spring; source.   
Tom  tuaim  a grave or tumulus; burial mound  Tuam; Tuamgraney  
Ton  toin  backside.   
Toor  tuar  a place for bleaching clothes   
Tra  trá  strand  Tralee; Tramore  
Tulla  tulach  hillock; mound  Tullamore; Tulrahan - Irish Art and Crafts - Irish Health and Fitness

Ireland, my Ireland by Arnold J. Meagher

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