1825: Vale of Honey

The most contentious aspect of [the mid-19th-century British project to survey Ireland, 1825–46] is the way in which place names were anglicized, replaced by English alternatives or simply mis-recorded….Irish names were altered…mostly through the processes of “dictation” in which a non-Irish speaker recorded in English orthography a place name spoken by an Irish-speaker and substituted English words which partially matched the sound of the Irish place name elements but obviously not the meaning, converting for example, the place name Muine Beag, meaning “little thicket,” to Moneybeg with no literal meaning. Nevertheless, the process of effacing the collective narratives and local knowledges of folklore, mythology and history condensed in Irish place names and authorizing new largely meaningless derivative forms has been seen as a form of colonial cultural violence deeply tied to the late nineteenth-century decline of the Irish language.

Catherine Nash: “Irish Place Names: Post-colonial Locations” in Critical Toponymies: The Contested Politics of Place Naming (2009) (here)

Moneygall / Muine Gall, “foreigners’ thicket” (or, as P. W. Joyce has it, “the shrubbery of strangers”)
Dundrum / Dún Droma, “the fort on the ridge”
Maynooth / Maigh Nuad, “plain of Nuadha” Nuadha was king of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the clan of ancient Irish deities
Leixlip / Léim an Bhradáin, a translation of the Old Norse Lax Hlaup, “salmon leap”
Limerick / Luimneach, meaning unclear, possibly “bare spot”
Clonmel /  Cluain Meala, “vale of honey”
Kilsheelan / Cill Sioláin, “Sioláin’s church”

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2 Responses to 1825: Vale of Honey

  1. Iago says:

    What does Stillorgan translate as….?

    Liked by 1 person

    • corvusfugit says:

      “Stillorgan is in Irish Tigh-Lorcain [Teelorkan], Lorcan’s church ; and it may have received its name from a church founded by St. Lorcan or Laurence O’Toole, Archbishop of Dublin at the time of the English invasion.” — P. W. Joyce, *The Origin and History of Irish Names of Places.*


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