Big thank you from

A fascinating look at townland names

by Rambler 10/05/2002

VARIOUS leading Ulster historians, notably Dr Kay Muhr of the Celtic Department of Queen's University and Doctor Bill Crawford of Carrowdore (now retired) have done a lot of research concerning Ulster townland names and origins.

Both have published volumes on the subject.

They, and many other scholars, deplore the dropping of townland names from postal addresses.

Fermanagh Council alone has remained faithful to the tradition of using townland names.

Possibly, I should also recognise the contribution of the Ordnance Survey people.

I am a traditionalist myself and I find the works of doctors Muhr and Crawford fascinating reading.

Just now I am studying 'Place names of Northern Ireland' volume six, which Dr Muhr published in 1996. (Institute of Irish Studies, QUB).

Volume Six covers N W Down/lveagh and I have homed in on Moira and Magheralin in which I have an ancestral interest.

Magheralin Parish, e.g. has 33 townlands in County Down, plus three ie, Clankilvoragh, Derrylisnahavil and Donaghgreagh across the border in Co Armagh.

The ones in Down which I know best are Kilminioge, Tullyloob and Ballymackeonan.

There is an ancient farmhouse in that neck of the wood which bears the name Darganstown House.

A family named Kerr owned it for many generations, but an adjoining 'loanen' leads to the ruins of an ancient dwelling which Henry Dargan owned in the nineteenth century.

Possibly he had a cluster of cottier houses known locally as 'Darganstown'.

I don't think this Henry was connected with the Lagan canal.

'Kilminioge' suggests some connection with the church ('Kil') of Ronan (Saint 'Roanan Fionn'), the site of whose church has been the subject of endless speculation down through the years.

A medieval parish church was in the townland of Ballvmackeonan (the ruins in the centre of Magheralin village).

During the 18th century, the Anglican bishops of Dromore resided in a see house on the site of the present (modern) Roman Catholic Church (MUHR).

There was an ancient graveyard at Donaghgreagh and possibly a church, but around there somewhere, Kilmore (Big Church) parish overlapped.

Lurgan dates only from 1608 and the roofless ruin there, marked Shankill may have belonged to Kilmore parish (Shankill means 'Big Church').

Brownlow re-roofed it and used it for Divine worship until 1725. Then he built a family vault on the site.

Early Kilmore parish boundaries appear uncertain. So too do those of Moira.

For example, was Saint Ronan Finn's first church in Moira parish or Magheralin. His name is on many widely scattered relics.

John De Courcy threw his weight around in 1178 and muddied the plot.

Magheralin means the plain of the Church. Saint Ronan's Church?

To be continued