From Irish, Placenames

The many explanations of the Gaelic derivation of local place names is often a cause of exasperation.  That we cannot be prescriptive is a testimony of the name’s antiquity; it also reflects on the possibilities of both languages; and it frequently tells of our diverse history and demonstrates that no matter who we are, we share a common rich heritage.  Here are just two examples that we have recently referred to.
The village of Forkhill, recently featured (and about to get another article!) lies beneath Slieve Gullion’s tail.  Older residents say ‘Far – cill’.  Some believe it refers to an ancient clan, Orcaill.  Others suggest it comes from the Gaelic for Cold Wood, and indicate that the famous and ancient Dunreavy Wood ended at the village. 
I have been told its derivation is from a Gaelic word referring to a water course or ‘trough’.  Personally I suspect it might derive directly from ‘Church of the Men’ as we have Church of the Priest (Kilnasaggart) and Church of Women (Kilnaman) too. 
But merely contemplating these alternatives causes us to remember ancient clans and their names; to recall that until a few short centuries ago, our land was covered in forests, and to remember tales associated with Dunreavy Wood; to consider the river, lakes and unique water features of the area and how they were developed in the past; and to accept the central role of religion and particularly Christianity in the last two millennia.
And Slieve Gullion itself.  The term in English refers to a body of still water in a ‘gully’ possibly and may refer to the lake on the mountain top. 
It may however derive from the Gaelic for ‘holly’ with which the mountain was once covered. 
It may derive from Cullain, the smith to the court of Conor McNessa and the Red Branch Knights; or to Cuchullain whose greatest exploits happened in this vicinity and whose name means Hound of Cullain.
I have also heard it suggested that the clouds and mist that frequently cover its top may have brought about a name that could possibly derive from the Gaelic ‘to cry’; and again, that verb along with the name of that other hero, Fionn (MacCool). 
So, how many tales, legends and stories of folk history does that conjure up?
Let’s just celebrate our diversity and the richness of our common history!

Mummers Rhymes

The Mummers were frequently accompanied by a few young men dressed in women’s clothes who gave an exhibition dance towards the end of the performance.  This was often the most enjoyable event.  Aware of how ludicrous they looked in corsets and petticoats, and much-befrilled and well-starched giant-sized white knickers, they lepped, kicked, danced and besported themselves to riotous music and song.
The Rhymers were popular with all creeds and classes and increased their popularity and topicality with personal and political verses.  There were ballads too concerned with love affairs of the district and peculiarities of individuals of the immediate neighbourhood.  
There were versions in different neighbourhoods.  This is just one.
Master of Cermonies:
Room, room, brave gallant boys
Give us room to rhyme
Till we show a bit of our activity
At this Christmas time.
Active youth and active age
The like was never acted on a stage
If ye don’t believe what I say
Enter in St George, and clear the way.
St George:
Here come I St George, from England have I sprung
And many a noble deed of valour have I done
For years I was in close quarters kept
And out of that into a prison leapt
And out of that into a block of stone
Where I made many a sad and grievous moan
Many a giant did I subdue
And I ran the fiery dragon through and through
I fought them all courageously
Until I earned the victory
Show me the man that dare me stand
And I’ll cut him down with my courageous hand.
I’m the man that dare ye challenge
Though your courage be so great
With my sword I make all to shake
Even dukes and earls to quake.
St George:
Who are you but a poor silly lad?
I am a Turkish champion
From Turkey land I came
To fight you, the great St George be name
And I say, by George, you are a liar, Sir!
So draw your sword and try, Sir!
St George and the Turkish champion engage in sword play.  The Turk falls and his mother enters weeping and wailing..
Turk’s mother:
St George! St George! Oh, what have you done?
You have killed me only son.
See him lying bleeding there
Oh, my heart is sinking in despair.
A doctor, a doctor, ten pounds for a doctor!
Is there ne’er a doctor to be found?
Who can cure me son of his deep and mortal wound?
Enter the Doctor.
Turk’s Mother:
Well, doctor, what is your medicine?
Hens’ pens and Turkish treacle
Bum-bee eggs and midges’ bacon
Stirred up with a great cat’s feather
Mixed in a mouse’s blether
And given thrice a day.
Doctor attends to the Turk.  He sits and gives thanks.
Once I was dead but now I’m alive
God bless the wee doctor that made me revive.
And if you don’t believe in the words I say
Enter in Sir Oliver Cromwell
And he will clear the way.

Killeavy Placenames

fairy bushes
Drinans or Bushes of the Shee  
Tail of Slieve Gullion
rocky outcrop Armagh/Louth border
great teeth
Monribba               townland near Forkhill on Bog Road
Clougharevan        Cloch Fhuarain, fountain rock, Bessbrook
Cloughreagh          Aghnecloghreagh, place of grey stones, Bessbrook
Cloughinny             Cloch Eanaigh, marsh rock
Crankey                 Baile Mhic Rangain, Rangan’s town
Cross                    Baile na Crosie, town of the crossing
Cullentragh            Cuileanntracht, holly district
Duburren               Dubh bhoireann, dark rocky place (Sturgan)
Derrymore             Doire Mor, great wood
Derrywilligan         Doire Ui Mhaolagain, Mulligan’s Wood
Duvernagh             Dubh Bhearnach, the Black Gap
Drumbanagher       Druimbeannchair, the peaked ridge
Enagh                    Ma Eanaigh, the swampy plain
Eshwary    Baile an eas’mhoir, the town of the great waterfall

S Armagh Placenames

This is the 18 Arches just outside Newry
Goragh (-wood) of the goat
Keggal   An Cagall
cockle or tare’s land
Note that the cockle and the tare are both weeds of corn fields
Kilmonaghan         Monaghan’s wood
Kilrea                  coil a’Riogh, wood of the River Rye
Knockduff            Cnoc Dubh, the black hill
Lesh                   Leis, thigh-shaped land
Levalleymore        Leath-bhaile Mor, the greater half-townland
Lislea                  Lios Liath, the grey fort
Lisnagree             Lios na groi, fort of the brood/mares
Lissaraw              Lios a Rath, Mound of the fort
Meigh                  Maigh (Dysart), secluded plain
Maytown              Maigh d’Tamhain, plain of the herds
Mullaglass             mullach glas, the green summit
Serse                   baile na seisreach, town of the ploughland
(neither comprehensive nor concluded [see Latt, 5.6.04 and previous])

Oxymorons 2

Oxymoron (sharp-stupid) is just one of many epigrammatical devices one of whose functions is to draw attention to the meaning of words.  A term is an oxymoron only when its two elements can be seen as opposites.
Some people use it to humorous effect, some for political gain.  I have just heard a news announcement [biased verdict] that the Afghan presidential election was ‘fairly democratic’.  These two terms are never opposites so the expression is not an oxymoron (contrasted, for example, with ‘benign dictator’).  Yet most intelligent observers will reflect on the deliberate misuse of the term ‘fair’ to convey the connotation of ‘not quite..’.  It is this covert exploitation of the vagueness of language by self-seekers that we wish to highlight here so please do not hesitate to post your favourites on Guestbook, whether they are oxymorons or not. 
Overall we have come to demand more meaning from oxymorons, as they become a useful device of the satirist and a means of unveiling the deficiencies of language.  The cleverest ones include words that can have different meanings in various contexts.  Humour is now an important element.  Keeping all this in mind, the following are a few of my favourites.  Thanks to Dearest Carmel for her contribution.  What about you?
Strangely familiar:  stationary orbit:  small fortune:  peace offensive:  parallel connection:  random order:  relative truth:  real magic:  timeless moment:  virtual reality: genuine reproduction … etc
More oxymorons later!


The fashion-conscious enjoy skin-tight slacks and a healthy tan.  Politicians talk of nuclear defence and Star-Wars shields.  Computer people rail against Microsoft Works.  Civil servants weave a web of garbage in Plain English forms.  Examples of oxymorons abound in our world.  What are they?
I was contemplating how our recent stories of reminiscence evoke bitter-sweet memories when the term’s internal contradiction struck me.   This epigrammatical device deliberately junxta-poses contradictory terms; it is used sparingly and carefully by writers.  On the other hand the grant-milkers, the ‘great and the good’, the ‘movers and shakers’ sprinkle oxymorons through their language and press-releases like confetti.
One of the minor aims of Newry Journal is to expose self-publicising fraudsters.  You have read some examples here.  Now I’m asking you to come up with your favourite (i.e. most despised!) examples. 
Can anything be altogether separate; the same difference; a working holiday; virtual reality; pretty ugly; a civil war; a peace force?
[Abbey Gymnists c.1964 F. Arthur Murphy:Michael McCullagh:Coach, Gerry Brown: Peter Poland: … : Hugh McShane (?) M. ? : Martin McConville: Markey: …: McGivern:  Back.. 4. Gerry Hobden ..] Corrections please to Guestbook! (Ta to Gerry Hobden for Guestbook note.  I’m sorry not to have recognised you for we were acquainted!  I’m fairly confident M 1. is not Gerry McLaughlin (of Stream Street), unless there was another of that name!
Over to you!  Examples on Guestbook, please.  

Street Rhymes

We had street chants for most occasions and most circumstances.  I can remember only a few.  When you wanted to vex someone, or to distract your mate from something else, you would point determinately until she/he looked in that direction.  Then you would chant:
I made you look
I made you stare
I made the barber cut your hair!
He cut it long
He cut it short
He cut it with a knife and fork!
If you remember others, please post them on Guestbook!

Place Names/Irish: Latt etc


Tullyhappy Tulach Apaidh  – the ripe mound
Sturgan      – the peak
Skegatillida  Sceach a’tSeilide – the snail’s thorn bush
Maytown Maigh Tamhain – plain of the herds
Maghernahely Machire na’chilin – plain of the little church
Lissummon  (actually Lissemor) – great fort
Goragh      – goat-grazing place
Latt     – cattle-grazing place
Killybodagh  coil na mBodach – churl’s wood
Keggal cagal   – cockle or tare’s land
Drumbanagher  druimbeanchair – peaked ridge
Duvernagh Dubh Bhearnach – black gap
Cloughreagh  cloch riach  – grey stones
Carrickcruppen carraig chropain – outcrop rocks
Carricknagalliagh [na gCailleach]- rock of the veils
Ballynaleck  baile na leac  – townland of flagstones
Carrickbracken [bhreacain] – speckled rock

Gaelic Place Names: Creggan etc


Cortamlet, corr tam leacht, ‘the round burial place’
Cortresla, corr trioslog, ‘the hill of the jumps’
Cranncrea, crann chrith, ‘the trembling poplar tree’
Creenkill, crion choill, ‘the dry rotten wood’
Camily, cam mhullaigh or cam liath, ‘crooked hills’ or ‘grey bend’
Cappagh, ceapach, ‘cultivated place’ [pron. ‘cappy’]
Carrickrovaddy, carraigh ruadh a’mhadaidh, ‘the dog’s red rock’
Carmeen, corr min, ‘the smooth round hill’
Carnally, carn ayeill, ‘the side of a sloping hill’
Carrickacullion, carraigh an chuilinn, ‘rock of the holly’
Carrickamoan, carraig na monadh, ‘the bog rock’
Cavanakill, cabhan na coille, ‘the hollow of wood’
Carran, carr