Welcome to the Claregalway Historical and Cultural Society placenames project. In 2021 Claregalway Historical and Cultural Society began a new project collecting the minor place-names and field names known to the local community but not previously recorded.
The objective of this project was to document all of the previously unrecorded minor place names, field names, and locally-known toponyms associated with the cultural landscape of the parish of Claregalway. This research was undertaken at a local level through field survey and engagement with local land-owners on a townland by townland basis.
Placenames are a part of our everyday language and in many ways, they can define the relationship with, and our understanding of our local environment and surroundings. In a very real way, placenames are a reservoir of community memory and associations that stretch back through generations. Placenames can sometimes be the only record of past landscapes, past buildings, past families and people, and past events. They can be incredibly personnel to a community and remain one of our most-undervalued and under-recorded local resources.
Onomastic, or place-name lore, is among the most significant elements of oral tradition and is one of the primary forms of recording and remembering the landscape. Sources of onomastic information in Ireland are varied and comprise a number of early written documents relating to mythology, folklore, history and pseudo-history. However, at a local level, much of this information is unrecorded, and only retained by those who live within the landscape. This project sought to raise local awareness and appreciation of this valuable resource through documentation and dissemination of this information to be accessed by all. Both volunteers and informants were direct participants in the project.
Noteworthy is the fact that the parish of Claregalway is within a designated Gaeltacht region, and as such, many local Irish language toponyms that have not previously been recorded are of particular cultural value, potentially only being known to older members of the community. Volunteers with native bilingual resources were of particular importance for this substantial element of the survey.
We are very grateful to the Claregalway Historical and Cultural Society committee members involved in this project: Marie Dempsey; PJ Duggan; Seoirse Morris; Seamus O'Connell; Mike Hession; Enda O Flaherty; Sean Concannon; Annie Hession; Pat Coen; Brendan Noonan; Niall Devitt.
This work has been made possible by grant aid from the Galway County Council Community Heritage Grant Scheme 2021.
Watch a short feature about our placename survey work by Molscéál TG4 here