A townland (Irish : baile fearainn; Ulster-Scots: toonlann ) is a small geographical division of land used in Ireland and in the Western Isles in Scotland. The townland system is of Gaelic origin, pre-dating the Norman invasion, and most have names of Irish origin. However, some townland names and boundaries come from Norman manors, plantation divisions, or later creations of the Ordnance Survey. The total number of inhabited townlands in Ireland was 60,679 in 1911. The total number recognised by the Irish Place Names database as of 2014 was 61,098, including uninhabited townlands, mainly small islands.
In Ireland a townland is generally the smallest administrative division of land, though a few large townlands are further divided into hundreds.The concept of townlands is based on the Gaelic system of land division, and the first official evidence of the existence of this Gaelic land division system can be found in church records from before the 12th century, it was in the 1600s that they began to be mapped and defined by the English administration for the purpose of confiscating land and apportioning it to investors or planters from Britain.
The term "townland" in English is derived from the Old English word tun, denoting an enclosure.The term describes the smallest unit of land division in Ireland, based on various forms of Gaelic land division, many of which had their own names.
The term baile, anglicised as "bally", is the most dominant element used in Irish townland names.Today the term "bally" denotes an urban settlement, but its precise meaning in ancient Ireland is unclear, as towns had no place in Gaelic social organisation. The modern Irish term for a townland is baile fearainn (plural: bailte fearainn). The term fearann means "land, territory, quarter".
The Normans left no major traces in townland names, but they adapted some of them for their own use, possibly seeing a similarity between the Gaelic baile and the Norman bailey, both of which meant a settlement.
Throughout most of Ulster, townlands were known as "ballyboes" (Irish : baile bó, meaning "cow land"), and represented an area of pastoral economic value. In County Cavan similar units were called "polls", and in Counties Fermanagh and Monaghan they were known as "tates" or "taths". These names appear to be of English origin, but had become naturalised long before 1600. In modern townland names the prefix pol- is widely found throughout western Ireland, its accepted meaning being "hole" or "hollow". In County Cavan, which contains over half of all townlands in Ulster with the prefix pol-, some should probably be better translated as "the poll of ...". Modern townlands with the prefix tat- are confined almost exclusively to the diocese of Clogher, which covers Counties Fermanagh and Monaghan, and the barony of Clogher in County Tyrone), and cannot be confused with any other Irish word.
In County Tyrone the following hierarchy of land divisions was used: "ballybetagh" (Irish : baile biataigh, meaning "victualler's place"), "ballyboe", "sessiagh" (Irish : séú cuid, meaning sixth part of a quarter), "gort" and "quarter" (Irish : ceathrú). In County Fermanagh the divisions were "ballybetagh", "quarter" and "tate". Further subdivisions in Fermanagh appear to be related to liquid or grain measures such as "gallons", "pottles" and "pints".
In Ulster the ballybetagh was the territorial unit controlled by an Irish sept, typically containing around 16 townlands. Fragmentation of ballybetaghs resulted in units consisting of four, eight and twelve townlands. One of these fragmented units, the "quarter", representing a quarter of a ballybetagh, was the universal land denomination recorded in the survey of County Donegal conducted in 1608.In the early 17th century 20 per cent of the total area of western Ulster was under the control of the church. These "termonn" lands consisted likewise of ballybetaghs and ballyboes, but were held by erenaghs instead of sept leaders.
Other units of land division used throughout Ireland include:
"Cartrons" were also sometimes called "ploughlands" or "seisreagh" (Irish : seisreach, meaning a team of horses yoked to a plough).
Thomas Larcom, the first Director of the Ordnance Survey of Ireland, made a study of the ancient land divisions of Ireland and summarised the traditional hierarchy of land divisions thus:
10 acres – 1 Gneeve; 2 Gneeves – 1 Sessiagh; 3 Sessiaghs – 1 Tate or Ballyboe; 2 Ballyboes – 1 Ploughland, Seisreagh or Carrow; 4 Ploughlands – 1 Ballybetagh, or Townland; 30 Ballybetaghs – Triocha Céad or Barony.
This hierarchy was not applied uniformly across Ireland. For example, a ballybetagh or townland could contain more or less than four ploughlands.Further confusion arises when it is taken into account that, while Larcom used the general term "acres" in his summary, terms such as "great acres", "large acres" and "small acres" were also used in records. Writing in 1846, Larcom remarked that the "large" and "small" acres had no fixed ratio between them, and that there were various other kinds of acre in use in Ireland, including the Irish acre, the English acre, the Cunningham acre, the plantation acre and the statute acre. The Ordnance Survey maps used the statute acre measurement. The quality and situation of the land affected the size of these acres. The Cunningham acre is given as intermediate between the Irish and English acres.
Many of these land division terms have been preserved in the names of modern townlands. For example, the term "cartron" in both its English and Irish forms has been preserved in the townland names of Carrowmeer, Cartron and Carrowvere, while the term "sessiagh" survives in the names Shesia, Sheshodonell, Sheshymore and Shessiv. : Cuige Uladh, "the Ulster fifth"), Treanmanagh (Irish : an train meánach, "the third middle") and Dehomade (Irish : an deichiú méid, "the tenth part").The terms "ballyboe" and "ballybetagh" tend to be preserved in the truncated form of "bally" as a prefix for some townland names, such as Ballymacarattybeg near Poyntzpass, County Down. Less well-known land division terms may be found in other townland names such as Coogulla (Irish
A problem with the term "bally" in some townland names is that it can be difficult to distinguish between the Irish terms baile meaning "townland" and béal átha meaning "approach to a ford". An example of the latter is Ballyshannon, County Donegal, which is derived from Béal Átha Seanaidh.
The average area of a townland is about 325 acres (1.32 km2; 132 ha), but they vary widely in size. William Reeves's 1861 survey states that the smallest was Old Church Yard, near Carrickmore, in the parish of Termonmagurk, County Tyrone, at 0.625 acres (0.253 ha) and the largest, at 7,555 acres (30.57 km2; 11.805 sq mi), was and is Fionnán (also called Finnaun) in the parish of Killanin, County Galway. In fact, the townland of Clonskeagh in the barony of Uppercross (abutting the main Clonskeagh townland in the barony of Dublin) was only 0.3 acres (1,200 m2) although the area is now urbanised, so that the townlands are unused and their boundaries are uncertain.
The ballyboe, a townland unit used in Ulster, was described in 1608 as containing 60 acres of arable land, meadow, and pasture. However, this was misleading, as the size of townlands under the Gaelic system varied depending upon their quality, situation and economic potential.This economic potential varied from the extent of land required to graze cattle to the land required to support several families. The highest density of townland units recorded in Ulster in 1609 corresponds to the areas with the highest land valuations in the 1860s.
It seems that many moorland areas were not divided into townlands until fairly recently. These areas were "formerly shared as a common summer pasturage by the people of a whole parish or barony".
Until the 19th century most townlands were owned by single landlords and occupied by multiple tenants. The cess, used to fund roadworks and other local expenses, was charged at the same rate on each townland in a barony, regardless of its size and productive capacity. Thus, occupiers in a small or poor townland suffered in comparison to those of larger or more fertile townlands. This was reformed by Griffith's Valuation.
During the 19th century an extensive series of maps of Ireland was created by the Irish division of the Ordnance Survey for taxation purposes. These maps both documented and standardised the boundaries of the more than 60,000 townlands in Ireland. The process often involved dividing or amalgamating existing townlands, and defining townland boundaries in areas such as mountain or bog that had previously been outside the townland system.Slight adjustments are still made. There were 60,679 in 1911, compared to 60,462 townlands in 1901.
Townlands form the building blocks for higher-level administrative units such as parishes and District Electoral Divisions (in the Republic of Ireland) or wards (in Northern Ireland).[ citation needed ]
Before 1972 townlands were included on all rural postal addresses throughout the island, but in that year the Royal Mail decided that the townland element of the address was obsolete in Northern Ireland.Townland names were not banned, but they were deemed "superfluous information" and people were asked not to include them on addresses. They were to be replaced by house numbers, road names and postcodes. In response the Townlands Campaign emerged to protest against the changes. It was described as a "ground-level community effort". Taking place in the midst of The Troubles, the campaign was a rare example of unity between Catholics and Protestants, nationalists and unionists. Townlands and their names "seem to have been considered as a shared resource and heritage". Those involved in the campaign argued that, in many areas, people still strongly identified with their townlands and that this gave them a sense of belonging. The Royal Mail's changes were seen as a severing of this link.
At the time the county councils were the government bodies responsible for validating the change. However, as local government itself was undergoing changes, the Royal Mail's decision was "allowed ... to become law almost by default".County Fermanagh is the only county in Northern Ireland that managed to resist the change completely. Nevertheless, many newer road signs in parts of Northern Ireland now show townland names (see picture). In 2001 the Northern Ireland Assembly passed a motion requesting government departments to make use of townland addresses in correspondence and publications.
In the Republic of Ireland townlands continue to be used on addresses. In 2005 the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources announced that a postcode system was to be introduced (see Republic of Ireland postal addresses). The system, known as Eircode, was introduced in 2014, but although more widely used by 2021, townlands remain predominant address identifiers in rural areas.[ citation needed ]
Beragh is a village and townland in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. It is about 8 miles Southeast of Omagh and is in the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area. The 2001 Census recorded a population of 520.
In Ireland, a barony is a historical subdivision of a county, analogous to the hundreds into which the counties of England were divided. Baronies were created during the Tudor reconquest of Ireland, replacing the earlier cantreds formed after the original Norman invasion. Some early baronies were later subdivided into half baronies with the same standing as full baronies.
Kinawley or Kinawly is a small village, townland and civil parish straddling County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland and County Cavan Republic of Ireland. The village and townland are both in the civil parish of Kinawley in the historic barony of Clanawley, while other areas of the parish are in the baronies of Knockninny in County Fermanagh and Tullyhaw in County Cavan. In the 2011 Census it had a population of 141 people.
Northern Ireland is divided into six counties, namely: Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone. Six largely rural administrative counties based on these were among the eight primary local government areas of Northern Ireland from its 1921 creation until 1973. The other two local government areas were the urban county boroughs of Derry and Belfast.
The barony of Castleknock is one of the baronies of Ireland. Originally part of the Lordship of Meath, it was then constituted as part of the historic County Dublin. Today, it lies in the modern county of Fingal. The barony was originally also a feudal title, which became one of the subsidiary titles of the Viscounts Gormanston.
Carrowmore, County Cavan is a townland in the Parish of Tomregan, Barony of Tullyhaw, County Cavan, Ireland.
Aghindisert is a townland in the civil parish of Tomregan, in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. It is situated within the former barony of Knockninny.
Cloncoohy is a townland in the Civil Parish of Tomregan, Barony of Knockninny, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.
Derrintony is a townland in the Civil Parish of Tomregan, Barony of Knockninny, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.
Garvary is a townland in the Civil Parish of Tomregan, Barony of Knockninny, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. (Disambiguation- see also Garvary townland, County Cavan, Republic of Ireland.)
Gortmullan is a townland in the Civil Parish of Tomregan, Barony of Knockninny, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.
Knockateggal is a townland in the Civil Parish of Tomregan, Barony of Knockninny, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.
Ummera is a townland in the Civil Parish of Tomregan, Barony of Knockninny, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.
Civil parishes are units of territory in the island of Ireland that have their origins in old Gaelic territorial divisions. They were adopted by the Anglo-Norman Lordship of Ireland and then by the Elizabethan Kingdom of Ireland, and were formalised as land divisions at the time of the Plantations of Ireland. They no longer correspond to the boundaries of Roman Catholic or Church of Ireland parishes, which are generally larger. Their use as administrative units was gradually replaced by Poor Law Divisions in the 19th century, although they were not formally abolished. Today they are still sometimes used for legal purposes, such as to locate property in deeds of property registered between 1833 and 1946.
Bangor is a civil and ecclesiastical parish in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is located in the north of the Ards Peninsula, consisting of 30 townlands, twenty-two and a half of which lie in the barony of Ards Lower, with seven and a half lying within that of Castlereagh Lower. Its ancient monastery was of ecclesiastical importance.
Carhoo Lower is a townland within the civil parish of Magourney and catholic parish of Aghabullogue, County Cork, Ireland. It is 284.5 acres in size, and west of Coachford village.
Carhoo Upper is a townland within the civil parish of Magourney and catholic parish of Aghabullogue, County Cork, Ireland. It is 199.08 acres in size, and west of Coachford village.
Drummully or Drumully is an electoral division (ED) in the west of County Monaghan in Ireland. Known as the Sixteen Townlands to locals and as Coleman's Island or the Clonoony salient to the security forces, it is a pene-enclave almost completely surrounded by County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland. Since the Partition of Ireland in the 1920s, the Monaghan–Fermanagh border has formed part of the international border between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom, leaving Drummully as a practical enclave, connected to the rest of what is now the Republic of Ireland only by an unbridged 110 metres (360 ft) length of the River Finn. The area is accessed via the Clones–Butlersbridge road, numbered N54 in the Republic and A3 in Northern Ireland.
Drumconra is a townland in the civil parish of Kinawley, barony of Tullyhaw, County Cavan, Ireland. The townland is also called Lowforge, meaning 'The Lower Forge' belonging to the 18th century Swanlinbar Iron Works. A sub-division is called The Coal Yard. The 1938 Dúchas collection states- The Coal Yard - a field belonging to Mr. Patrick McGoldrick, Drumcondra, Swanlinbar Co Cavan. Long ago iron was smelted there and there are traces of this under each sod that is dug up. Another sub-division is called The Fairy Field. The Dúchas collection states- This is owned by Mr Barney Kellaher, Drumcondra, Swanlinbar. There is a peculiar shaped stone in it which is never touched. It is said locally that one time a person who tried to remove it was found dead next morning and since then no one would touch it.
Cornagran is a townland in the civil parish of Kinawley, barony of Tullyhaw, County Cavan, Ireland.
She argued that Ireland's townland system, which pre-dated the Anglo-Norman conquest, worked against the creation of sizeable nucleated settlements.
The townland network provides the most pervasive landscape survival from the Gaelic era. Most townlands, many retaining their Gaelic names, are believed to pre-date the arrival of the Anglo-Normans.
The manor was the basic unit of settlement throughout the Anglo-Norman colony. Anngret Simms and others have argued that the constraint of the pre-existing Gaelic-Irish network of townlands (the basic subdivision of land in Ireland, a townland was originally the holding of an extended family) pre-empted the formation of large villages on the Anglo-Norman manors of Ireland.
It is clear that the Gaelic townland system of territorial organisation exerted a powerful centripetal force on the evolving settlement pattern.
The first official evidence of their existence occurs in church records from before the twelfth century.
Their size varies considerably, since they were based on the fertility of the land rather than its acreage, and it seems that many moorland tracts were not divided until fairly recent times, for they were formerly shared as a common summer pasturage by the people of a whole parish or barony.
|Look up townland in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|