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Irish Local Names Explained by P. W. Joyce LL.D, M.R.I.A.Trying to figure out placenames is the bane of every genealogist / family history researcher.

Irish placenames are local in every sense of the word.  Some names are based on the topography of the area  – hills, rivers, lakes, rises / hollows.

Town & village placenames may have connections to the activities carried on in the area – most towns have a ‘Mill Street’, ‘West Street’, ‘Irishtown’ etc. ‘Bleach Road’ is a common placename in many places – all these names are self explanatory.

Even the fields on a traditional Irish farm had names – some were named after the older, now forgotten families who lived there, others were name after their usage / purpose, such as the ‘Cow Stand’, the ‘Garden’, the ‘Ardmór’

Many names evolved at a time when Irish was the spoken language of the people – these were ‘translated’ by the occupying British ruling classes for mapping / documentation purposes.

In anglicising Irish names, the leading general rule is, that the present forms are derived from the ancient Irish, as they were spoken not as they were written.
Those who first committed them to writing, aimed at preserving the original pronunciation, by representing it as nearly as they were able in English letters.

Generally speaking, this principle explains the alterations that were made in the spelling of names, in the process of reducing them from ancient to modern forms; and allowing for the difficulty of representing Irish words by English letters, it will be found that, on the whole, the ancient pronunciation is fairly preserved

~ Irish Local Names Explained – P. W. Joyce, LL.D. M.R.I.A

Irish Local Names Explained is available on Internet Archive.  Joyce does an admirable job of explaining how places with Irish names were phonetically renamed in English in the first few pages, the remainder of the book is a very long list of placenames and their original meanings