Irish Place Names: D-G

Names beginning with Derry-

These are uniformly derived from Doire, meaning a wood.

  • Derrybawn Doirí Bán
    Bán means white, so “The white wood”.
  • Derryharney Doirí Charna
    Charna refers to the Kearneys, a family, so “Kearney’s Wood”

The Kearney’s show up again in Donnycarney, (Kearney’s church) but whether they are the same lot I don’t know.

Names beginning with Doon- or Dun-

Both come from dún, meaning fort. Yes, more forts! So far we have had Caher- and Cashel-, now Dun- and Doon-, with Lis- and Rath- yet to come. There were many of them about in old Ireland and the different words describe different types of fort. Duns were important forts, usually belonging to a king or chieftain.

  • Doonbeg Dún Beag
    Beag means small, so this is “The small fort”. Dunbeg in Co Clare is close to Dunmore, which is “The big fort”.
  • Dundalk Dún Dealgan
    Dealga was a person, so this was the location of “Dealga’s Fort”

Names beginning with Donagh- and Donny-

Confusingly names starting Don- are often the same as Dun- (as in Donaraile), but Donagh and Donny- derive from Domhnach meaning “church”. Again they can refer to a person’s church (and most often do) or some characteristic of the church or its location.

  • Donnybrook Domhnach Broc
    Means “The Church of Broc”, a little known saint. There was nothing saintly however about the fairs held there which were notorious for their drunkenness and violent outbursts and gave the english language the word Donnybrook.

Names beginning with Ennis- or -Inis

Ennis or Inis can mean either an island or land by a river. Ennis-, Inish- and Inch- (more often -inch), which all appear in english versions of names, are pretty much the same thing and which meaning applies is easily discerned from the location of the place.

  • Ennis Inis
    The name of the Co Clare town simply means “By the river”.
  • Enniskean Inis Céin
    “Cian’s land by the river”
  • Ennistimon Inis Diomáin
    Diomáin means devil, but why this harmless town came to be called “the island of the Devil” is not known.
  • Inishfree Inis Fraoigh
    Fraoigh means heather so this is “the Island of heather”
  • Inishbofin Inis Bó Finne
    means cow and Finne means white (in the sense of celestial white), so the Island of the white cow was probably home once to a very special bovine.

Names beginning with Glen-

Yes, you’ve guessed it, it means “valley or glen”, from the Irish ‘gleann‘. The second parts of these names are more interesting, because they almost invariably describe the valley.

  • Glengarrif An Gleann Garbh
    Garbh means rocky or rugged, so this is “the rocky valley” and anyone who has been there will know that it fits.
  • Glendalough Gleann Dá Loch
    means tow, and Loch means lake, so this means “the Valley of the two lakes”, which indeed it is.

Glan- usually also means glen, appearing in some names probably because the it is close to the Irish pronunciation of the work Gleann.

Published: July 17, 2014 | Updated: March 31, 2017 | Image Credits

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  • Gearóid Ó Caoilte says:

    Can you help with the place name “Dromiskin”, Co Louth? Irish is “Droim Ineasclainn”. Droim I understand but “Ineasclainn”??

  • John Hehir says:

    Ennistymon in Irish is Inis Díomáin:
    It is thought it might mean: Inis Tí Meáin, which translates as ‘ the island of the middle house’. Ennistymon House now the Falls Hotel, lies half way between Glann Castle and Dough Castle, both now in ruins. The remains of Glann Castle can be seen on the outskirts of the town on the Inagh Road. Dough Castle remains can be seen in the castle golf club in Lahinch. The name Ennistymon may mean something different but never has any reference to the ‘devil’ been included.

  • Una Sheehan says:

    Looking for biblical place namesIin the iris landscape eg New/ Jerusalem but as no ‘j’ in Iris I’m at a loss how to find any! Would be most grateful if you could provide any suggestions, thanks

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