In advance of the community mapping event in Clara Hall on Thursday 29th September at 7.30pm, it’s a good time to think of old field and place names that may be lost to time. Almost every farm has a well field and there’s always the house field, but there are some very old and unusual names on fields too. They have much to tell us about how communities, past and present, worked, lived and made meaning in the rural landscape. Our fields got their names in many ways; some from notable landmarks in or near the field, or from a description of the field itself, for example, its size, shape, location, flora, fauna or soil quality. Fields were often called after activities that took place there, or from stories or people associated with the place. Most of the local mapped field names are in the English language, but many, like the townlands they are located in, are in Irish. We invite everyone in the area to come along on Thursday night to map their placenames before they are lost forever. Local field names often come from (but not limited to)
Personal/Familial: Fields named after people or families.
Farming: their names are linked to domestic animals and crops e.g. Bush field, potato haggard, animal drinking places, poultry houses, etc
Landscape: Names describing the landscape itself. Often in gaeilge. Hills, mounds, ridge, carricks, hollows, rivers, bogs, streams, lakes, brae, meadows, crocken, back bacons, the now etc.
Locational: Fields named for their location, frequently in relation to a house. This group includes terms like top, bottom, back, front, far, near, above, beyond, upper, lower etc.
Local and cottage Industry: Names to do with forges, milling, flax holes, lime-kilns, quarries, bleach green, fairs, etc.
Rural Settlement: Names to do with rural settlement, big houses, yards, haggards, sheds, barns, spring wells, hedge schools, sports fields, etc.
Transport: Roads, Mass pads, bridges, cartways, canals, railway lines, paths, shortcuts, footsticks, etc.
Nature: Names to do with wild plants and animals, trees, woodland etc.
Sports/Hunting: Badger setts, Fox holes, snipe, pheasant, deer parks, fish ponds, shooting fields etc.
Archaeology: Names relating to archaeological features like fairy forts, walls, raths, crannogs, standing stones or megalithic tombs.
Size and Shape: Names describing the size, measurement, or shape of a field e.g. Tate, the “march” ditch.
History and lore: Names that tell a story or relate to a historical event. e.g. Battle, famine, eviction, death, altars, graves, holy wells, lone bush, America Cross.
Here is an example from the School’s Collection 1938 from Aughnashalvey School near Roslea.