The gale moderates and we launch from Garrywilliam

‘The gale moderates and we launch from Garrywilliam’, illustration by George Victor Du Noyer courtesy of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. A geologist, antiquarian and artist, George Victor Du Noyer (1816-1869), was a Dubliner of Huguenot descent. From 1849, he worked in the field for the Geological Survey of Ireland. On 14 October 1856 Du Noyer set sail in the coastguard galley from Brandon Quay on a trip to the Maharee Islands. On returning to Brandon, they encountered strong winds and were forced to retreat and take shelter at Small Poll a’ Chait in Garrywilliam

The traditional lesser-known place names of a locality are rooted in its topography and cultural history and reflect the close relationship between a community and its immediate environment. The names of fields, rocks, inlets, bóthairíns, landing places, humps, hollows and so on contribute immensely to the rich tapestry of times past. Through a study of their etymology, some of the layers of our history can be partially unveiled. ‘Urlann’, ‘Páirc an Ráithín’ and ‘Cathair na Faithche’ reflect the presence of pre-Christian forts while ‘The Bán’ and ‘Gort na Sciath’ depict past agricultural land use. Calaithe an Bháid, Calaithe an Ghrin, Calaithe Léin and the Cé, all landing places, indicate the importance of the sea for fishing and as a means of transport for the inhabitants of Oileán tSeanaigh.

A time when names such as Carraig na bPréachán, Leac a’ Stóra, An Eitir, Portcáinín Coyle and The Raithneach Bank tripped off the tongues of the local people is but a memory. Changes in land ownership, farming patterns, and a general drift from the land associated with increased urbanisation and emigration, have all increased the decline. The use of modern technology in the fishing industry has replaced dependence on the use of named markers as navigational aids. This has all been compounded by a change in the spoken word. Many place names which originated in the Irish language have become disguised in a phonetic English spelling which conceals their original meaning. Dramatic changes to the coastline over the centuries have also obscured the reason why a location acquired its name. Furthermore, the increase in the number of non-native residents has also contributed to the severing of the connection between generations of farm ownership and the land.

As passing time is the greatest enemy of our collective memory, the decline in the use of these traditional place names has led to increased interest in their collection and recording. Over the years, many individuals have endeavoured to preserve them.

John O’Donovan (1806-1861) visited Maharees in August 1841 to collect the names of townlands and other important sites on behalf of the Ordnance Survey Ireland. During the 1930’s, Pádraig Ó Siochfradha (An Seabhac) compiled a large number of the local place names which were subsequently published

in Triocha-Céad Chorca Dhuibhne (1939). In the National Folklore Commission Schools Collection (1937-38), Eileen Courtney, Magherabeg; John Kenny Barra na Duimhche and Cáit O’Connor, Fahamore recorded many of the áit-ainmneacha that contribute to the dinnseanchas of Maharees. In 1969, Dr. Breandán Ó Ciobhán recorded a number of place names in Maharees from Murt O’Leary, Fahamore. Interest in the collection and recording of local place names was revived in the late 1990’s by Éamon Lankford in the Kerry Placename Survey with local contributions made by Eoghan Ó Loingsigh, Martin Lynch and Kieran Browne. Many of the placenames presented here were collected at this time by Eoghan Ó Loingsigh from Joe Fitzgerald, Jimmy Joe Spillane, Bob Goodwin and Jackie Flynn. Many others were unearthed as part of this study.
Unfortunately, the location of some of the names in the Schools Collection has been lost. A list of lost place names appears in Appendix 1.

This study was undertaken on behalf of Maharees Conservation Association and part-funded by Flag South West. Additional funding was provided by local contributions.

Many place names would not have been preserved had they not been handed down through the years. We therefore must acknowledge the contribution of past generations in preserving this important aspect of our heritage. We would also like to thank all those who contributed to this collection: Joe Fitzgerald, Jimmy Joe Spillane, Bob Goodwin, Jackie Flynn, Jerry Flynn, Tim Fitzgerald, John Kennedy, Timmy Lynch, Murt O’Leary, Pat Browne, Frank Hussey, Tom Scanlon, Pat Browne (Magherabeg), Paddy Courtney, Michael McKenna, John Courtney, Mossy Herlihy, James Spillane, Martin Finn, Tom O’Flaherty, Jackie Goodwin, Diarmuid Lynch, Bridie Boyle.

A special thanks to Dr. Breandán Ó Ciobháin, Frances Uí Chinnéide, Seán Ó Cinnéide and Micheál ‘Toose’ MacGearailt.

Maps and setting by Bright Idea, Fossa, Killarney. Phonetics by Eoghan Ó Loingsigh. Drone photography by Mossy Donegan. All other photography by Martin Lynch. Boat hire by Tralee and Brandon Bay Eco Marine Tours.