by Lily Murphy
We Irish have
a penchant for strangeness and this is displayed
greatly in the names of town lands, cities and
villages across Ireland.
Over the years
I have travelled around the country soaking in
its strangeness and of course the rain. The many
place names I came across have often times caused
my sides to burst. Never before have I gained so
much laughter from my own country.
In Galway I
came upon a crossroads called Maam. I was
informed by locals that every Autumn a popular
horse fair takes place there. Yes Maam! In County
Tipperary I drove through a small village called
Horse and Jockey and found that no horse fair
ever takes place there.
rain down on tourists who visit Ireland but for
the native Irish, these places are the norm.
Places like Castlefreake in West Cork or Gorey in
County Wexford may raise an eyebrow with some,
but these names are normal names for those living
Now I may
overstate the fact that we Irish find no problem
with some of our unusual place names, but while
taking in the scenery of Connemara in the lovely
County Galway, I came across one of the longest
place names in Ireland: Muckanaghederdauhaulia. I
couldnt pronounce it then and I still cant
pronounce today! I found out that the English
translation of this little village simply means
pig shaped hill between two seas. Ah!
Of course! But I prefer the Irish version, even
If I cant pronounce it!
long place names, I passed by Newtownmountkennedy
in County Wicklow and while making my way around
County Laois I came across one of Irelands
shortest place names, one which could find
something in common with kids who like to wear
black and mope around: Emo.
names are not deliberate by any means. Places
such as Kilbrittain in West Cork is not a village
founded out of political frustration with Britain,
and Coke Lane in Dublin city is not where one can
find suppliers of Bolivian marching powder.
often abound regarding some Irish place names
such as a village called Ovens in County Cork
which became the source of great hilarity some
years ago when plans were made to locate a
crematorium there. Thankfully those plans were
scrapped and burned!
also rife with some place names in Ireland.
Nobber in County Meath derived its name from the
Irish word work while Cum is a rural
area in County Mayo. Ballsbridge is an affluent
part of Dublin city while Kilcock in County
Kildare comes from the name of Saint Coca who
founded a church there in the 6th century. Gaggin
lies on the outskirts of Cork city while in the
city itself one could come across a street called
Limerick I got lost in a townland called
Lickadoon. Opening up the map I saw that the next
townland was called Bushy Island which was just
before a village called Ballywackeen.
In Wexford I
came upon a place called Horetown and wondered
how the people living there felt with an address
such as that, but then as I travelled further on
up the road I entered Leachestown.
renowned for its cold and wet weather, some may
think that certain place names can be attributed
to our despairing climate. Birr in County Offaly
or even Blueball which is also in County Offaly
may point to Offaly as being the coldest county
to animals and to Dublin where you can find
places such as Dolphins Barn and Leopardstown,
and if its not animals its humans.
In the Wicklow
hills there is a picturesque village called
Coolboy while you can find Ballyguy in west
Tipperary. In Dublin you can find a greyhound
track at a place called Harolds Cross, why is he
so cross though!? But spare a thought for
Bastardstown in County Wexford.
If you think
living in a place called Bastardstown is a little
off putting, then think about the locals who live
in the village of Effin in County Limerick. The
people of Effin had a hard time recently when
they tried to be taken serious by Facebook, but
only if Mr. Zuckerberg knew that in Effin he
could find the Effin school with a lot of Effin
students and the Effin church with the Effin
parish priest and the Effin pub which hosts some
If you lived
in Pilltown County Kilkenny then it may be
suspect that the town is full of drug addicts and
pushers but the name in fact comes from a local
legend of a battle that proved so violent that
the river there ran red with blood from the
battle field and the town became known in Irish
as Baile an Phuill which means town of the blood.
Staying on the
addiction side of things, in Ireland the main
vice is alcohol and we are world renowned for our
bacchanalian ways but in County Limerick there is
a village called Bruree which is also the place
where you can find one of Irelands biggest
alcoholic treatment centres.
complete irony to the complete bizarre and in
Westmeath you can come upon a crossroads in the
heart of the countryside called Crazy Corner and
just up the road from it is Pass-If-You-Can, an
area of fields and a scatter of houses. In north
Kerry, laying in a direct horizontal line are the
villages of Lyre, Meen and Cuss.
While we Irish
have a great knack for taking some of our unusual
place names with a stern seriousness, we always
hold a sneaking joy at such outlandish names. Be
they completely random or bursting with innuendo,
we Irish love our place names and love it even
more when they leave some people confused and