WHAT'S IN A NAME?
It is estimated that there are over 60,000 townlands in Ireland. The names of these townlands often give us much information about an area. They describe natural features such as mountains, hills, rivers, woods etc. They reflect the impact of the natural environment on man. They can also reflect the impact man had on the land e.g. divisions of fields for grazing, roads and church settlements.
Our local placenames can give us a wealth of knowledge about where we live. They can often embody the history of the locality and recall past saints e.g. St. Fintan's Well (Tobar Fiontainn). However some local placenames have been anglicised at times rather arbitrarily. Newport is a good example of this as its Irish name was "Tulach Sheasta'. Also there may be features which have vanished from the landscape. Trees may be cut down, small lakes drained or fields extended. Changes like this can give rise to problems of interpretation. A current study of all the placenames in the parish would be well worthwhile. This could document what there is now. Changes in farm size, widening of roads and the removal of other local topographical features are fast making many of the placenames redundant. This is a great pity as they hold a wonderful poetic richness both in sound and meaning.
Doon parish placenames were recorded by John O'Donovan in1837 as
part of an Ordnance Survey.
Some of the names have common root words.
Here are a few examples,
Gortavalla, Gort a bhaile, field of the town
Gortnageragh, Gort na gCearach, field of the sheep
Gortnagard, Gort na gCeard, field of the craftsman
Currach(moor), Curraghafoil, Currach a Phuill, moor of the hole or pit
Curraghakimikeen, Currach a Chimicin, moor of the Cimicin
Lios (fort) Lios Eoghain, Owen's fort
Liscaugh, Lios gadhach, the dangerous fort
Liosnacullia, Lios na coille, fort of the wood
Cluain (meadow/lay) Clonlusk,
Cluain Loiscthe, the burnt meadow !
Cloonteen, Cluaintin, the little meadow (now in the parish of Cappamore)
Other placenames in the parish reflected for example land division. Cooga means 'cuige' a fifth part. This area is mentioned as far back as the Civil Survey of 1654.
Lackanaguneeny means Leace na gcoinini or hillside of rabbits.
Some names testify to early church settlements e.g. Cill(church) Cill Maoilin, Moylan's church. There are also names for places of religious significance - Tobar Fiontainn, St. Fintans Well.
For anyone interested in researching the local names a copy of O'Donovan's field name books is available at the library. Note that the parish of Doon fell into both the baronies of Coonagh and Owneybeg. Below are a few other places O'Donovan mentioned: Foilacleera, Faill Ui Chliara, O'Clearas slope or cliff
Ballycushouen, Baile Cois Abhann, townland along a river Cahernahallia, Ceathamhradh na hAille, the quarter of the cliff (slope) Reenavanna, Rinn a Bheanna, point of the ben
Toomaline, Tuaim a Laighin, mound of the Leinstermen or possibly Floinns Tomb
These names are wonderfully descriptive of our local area and reflect the richness of our natural heritage. We should be proud to cherish them.
Footnote: On another day we might explore the diversity of translations for the place names. For example Liscaugh can be Lios Cach the lios of the people - this area was densely populated pre famine days. Lios na Sceach - the lios of the bushes Lios Each - the lios of the horse.