Places names in Ulster – Jonathan Bardon


Investigating Ulster’s place names is an enjoyable and rewarding exploration of our past. General and academic, family and local history, place names studies, history of Ulster, history of seventeenth century Ireland, Plantation of Ulster studies.


Investigating Ulster’s place names is an enjoyable and rewarding exploration of our past. Prehistoric sites, early Irish society, past and present landscapes are all there to be discovered. While, undoubtedly, a large number of our place names derive from Irish Gaelic, this study also reveals the derivation of common Ulster place names from Viking, Anglo-Norman, English and Scottish roots, putting them in the context of Ulster history, for example, from the Elizabethan conquest or the Ulster Plantation.

As well as demonstrating the origins of Gaelic place names from ancient kingdoms and peoples, physical features, the built environment such as ring forts and castles, religion and the Irish church, the guide expands to explain root words employed in townlands, towns and Irish land divisions, and shows how new settlers, especially the landowners, had an impact on Ulster place names. There is also a section which describes how these myriad influences impacted our street names, with Belfast used as an example to demonstrate this process in action historically.

First published in 1990, this new edition of Place names in Ulster by the acclaimed historian Dr Jonathan Bardon includes a number of additional features: a Foreword by Jonathan’s widow Carol, a new introduction by Dr Kay Muhr of the Ulster Place-Name Society, an updated bibliography of accessible works on the subject of place-name studies and a listing of useful websites. Also included is a set of parish maps for all nine counties of Ulster. These are coloured to show the coverage of the Ordnance Survey Memoirs, which provide a uniquely-detailed history of the northern half of Ireland on the eve of the Great Famine.

Place names in Ulster is a doorway into a hugely interesting subject exploring the richness of our heritage of place names and how they reveal so much about our landscape, people, flora and fauna, and much else besides. The book provides a balanced introduction to the interpretation of place names in Ulster, gives historical background and explains the origins of many of them. It will aid researchers, novices and the more experienced alike, especially those interested in family and local history.

Jonathan Bardon (1941–2020) was born in Dublin but lived and worked in Belfast for much of his professional career. He was author of several books on Irish history, including A history of Ulster (1992) and A history of Ireland in 250 episodes (2008) based on BBC Radio Ulster broadcasts. He has written radio and television historical documentaries for BBC, UTV, RTÉ and Channel 4. He was chairman of the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council between 1996 and 2002 and was awarded the OBE for services to community life in 2003.


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