[From Surnames & Place-names of Isle of Man, A.W.Moore, 1890]


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CELTIC place-names may be divided into two classes: simple and compound, the latter being much more numerous. The simple names usually consist of substantives in the nominative, which constitute generic terms denoting the general class of the topographical features, while the compound names have also a second element, almost invariably an affix, which particularizes the place, or distinguishes it from others. These affixes may be either adjectives expressing colour, shape, size, situation, and other qualities, or substantives commemorating the names of persons, animals, vegetables, etc., or they may be the genitive cases of generic topographical terms. A list will be given first of the generic terms for topographical features, whether simple or compound, and having thus put in the back-bone, as it were, the affixes, which form much the larger class, will follow, and receive a fuller discussion. The commonest generic terms for topographical features are:

Cronk, which occurs as a prefix seventy-six times, Glione fifty times, Gob thirty-nine times, Greg thirty-six times, Keeill thirty-four times, Close twenty-three times, Chibber, Knock, and Purt twenty-one times, and Slieau twenty times. Of the non-topographical prefixes Balla, occurring four hundred times, is far in excess of any other.

It will be convenient to group the names which come under this heading, whether simple or compound, according to their connection with : (a) Hills, High-lands, and Rocks ; (b) Sea-coast ; (c) Glens, Lowlands, Rivers, and Bogs ; (d) Position ; (e) Human Habitations, including Buildings and Divisions of Land ; and (f) The Animal and Vegetable Kingdom.

It will be noticed that most of the simple names have the definite article, either in English or Manx, prefixed.


Part I.


The most interesting of the simple names is that of the Island itself ; for it must be remembered that ISLE OF MAN, or its Manx original, ELLAN VANNIN, is comparatively a late form, and that the early designation was a single word. Cæsar called it MONA, Orosius MEVANIA, Pliny MONAPIA, Ptolemy MONAOIDA or MONARINA, and Gildas EUBONIA or EUMONIA. In the Welsh records it was called MANAW (the Irish genitive being MANANN), and in the Icelandic Sagas MÖN, which form is correctly transliterated MAUN on the Malbricti-Gaut Cross at Kirk Michael. Controversy has raged about the meaning of these names, or rather name, as they are all variants of the same word ; but of the various derivations given, the only one, in the writer’s opinion, likely to be correct is that recently advanced by Professor Rhys1 as follows : ‘ The Irish MANANNAN is fabled to have been the name of the first king of the ISLE OF MAN, whence that appellation has sometimes been assumed to be derived. But this is an error, and it inverts the whole relation of the names ; for the matter is not as simple as it looks. It comes briefly to this : MANANNAN gave his original name, in a form corresponding to MANU and its congeners, to the island, making it MANAVIA INSULA . . . for which we have in Welsh and Irish respectively MANAU and MANANN. Then from these names of the Island the god derives his, in its attested forms of MANAWYðAN and MANANNAN, which would seem to mark an epoch when he had become famous in connection with the Isle of Man.’

Thus we gather that the mythical MANANNAN, God of the Sea, merchant and pilot, gave his name in its earliest form to the Isle of Man, and then, in his turn, derived his own extant name of MANANNAN from that of the Island. Professor Rhys conjectures that the earliest form of MANU should be MANAVJU, or MANAVJONOS. From this form MONA, MONAPIA (or MANAVIA, as Stokes, ‘ Celtic Declension,’ p. 18, doubtfully reads it), and the later more contracted forms naturally follow.

It is not necessary to go into the disputed question of whether the correct spelling is MAN or MANN. Both forms are used in the Records between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, but at the earlier dates MAN is rather more common than MANN. Dr. Haviland, in a recent paper read before the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society, has made a strong point in favour of MAN, by showing that it was necessary that the title of the King of Man and the Isles should be Rex Manniæ et Insularum, not Rex Maniae et Insularum, ‘ King of Madness and the Isles.’

* Some of the names under this heading may be parts of compound names, of which the other portion has been lost ; but whenever this is known to have been the case, they have been placed under ‘ imperfect names.’

1 Hibbert Lectures. 1886.

(a) Hills, Highlands, Rocks.

Cronk (M), ‘ a hill.’ A word not found in the earlier records, though it is now more common than cnoc, of which it is a corruption (see p. 142), in THE CRONKS, ‘ The Hills.’ In the north of Ireland cnoc is universally corrupted into croc. In Manx the change has gone further still.

Broogh (F), ‘ a brow, hill, hillock, bank.’ Usually, but incorrectly, applied in Manx local names to the steep slope of a hill, or of a bank by a river, in THE BROOGH,* ‘ The Brow.’ This is the name of an old earthwork.

* It is seldom used in this sense, but is so translated to distinguish it from liargagh.

Liargagh, lhargagh (M), ‘ the slope of a hill.’ Usually of a more gentle slope than Broogh, in THE LHERGY, ‘ the slope,’ and LARGY, ‘ slope.’ [(I) LARGY, (G) LARGIES.]

Aeree, eary (F), ‘ a moor.’ In NARY and NEAREY 0’ n-aery and yn-eary), ‘ The moor.’ In Scotland ciiridli (airie) means a hill pasture, a shieling. It has not survived in modern Irish place-names, though there are several instances of it in the Martyrology of Donegal, as ARIDH-LOCHA-CON. Aeree is always applied to highlands. [(G) AIRIE.]

Rinu (K), ‘ the long ridge of a mountain,’ and Rlieynn ( M), ‘ a division.’ They are, almost certainly, originally the same word. The words nun, in Irish, and roinn, in Gaelic, mean a promontory, point, headland, peninsula, and also a share or division—especially of land. This latter meaning would arise from the fact that divisions are very commonly made by mountain ridges. Thus THE RHEYN, or THE RHINE, ‘ The Ridge,’ is a ridge of land dividing the parishes of Braddan and Marown. [(I) RINE, (G) THE RINNS, in Islay.]

Dreem, Dreeym (M), ‘ a back.’ Used in local names of the back of a hill, as in THE DRUM, ‘ The hill-back.’ [(I) DRUM.]

Reeast (M), ‘ a desert, a waste, a rough uncultivated piece of ground.’ Invariably applied to uplands, as in THE REEAST MOOAR, ‘ The Big Waste.’ On the place so called, in the parish of Michael, there are several circular enclosures, about twenty feet in diameter, surrounded by white quartz. In one of these was discovered a grave, twelve feet long by four feet broad, having a tall, upright stone at one end of it. About twelve inches below the ground there was a layer of white quartz closely packed over the entire length of the grave, and beneath this an urn of coarse clay, covering charred bones. It measured three feet two inches round the top, and five and a half inches across the base, and was fourteen inches high. It was unfortunately broken when being carried away.

In Ireland and Scotland riasg means a marsh, or marshy land, while in the Isle of Man the corresponding word reeast is applied to rough land, whether wet or dry. This word is not now used in colloquial Manx. [(I) REASK.]

Carrick, carrig (F), ‘ a rock or crag.’ In CARRICK, ‘ Rock,’ the name of a treen in Lezayre, and in THE CARRICK, ‘ The Rock,’ a detached rock in the sea. This name is rarely found inland. [(I and G) CARRICK.]

Greg and craig (F). Contractions of the above, in THE CRAIG, ‘ The Rock.’ [(I and G) GREG.]

(b) Sea-coast.

Gob (M), ‘ neb, beak, bill’ Used in local names of pointed promontories, as in THE GOB, ‘ The Point.’

Mooiragh (K), ‘ a void place cast up by the sea ‘ ; ‘ a flat piece of land extending along the sea ‘ (Joyce). In THE MOORAGH, the best rendering of which is ‘ The Sandbank.’ ‘ In the Book of Rillits it is spelled Murmisagli, which points to the etymology : muir, the sea ; and magh, a plain.’* [(I) MURROW of Wicklow.]

* Joyce, Irish Names of Places, 4th edition, p. 466.

Cam (M), literally ‘ a heap of stones.’ In THE CARN
—the fanciful name of a detached rock in the sea.

(c) Glens, Lowlands, Rivers, Bogs.

Cooll (F), ‘ a nook ‘ (K) ; ‘ a hiding-place ‘ (C). In THE CoolL, ‘ The Nook.’ [(I) COOLE.]

Glack (F), ‘ the hollow of the hand.’ Used in local names of a hollow, as THE GLAICK, ‘ The Hollow.’ [(I) GLACK, (G) GLAIK.]

Lag, Laggey (M), ‘ a hollow.’ In THE LAG, and the latter and m.ore uncommon form, probably, in THE LAGAGH, ‘ The Hollow,’ a swampy place.

Gladdagh (M), ‘ a lake, a shore, a low, uncultivated land that lies upon a river ‘ (K) ; ‘ the bank of a river ‘ (C). In Manx local names it is applied to meadow-land by a river, as in THE CLADDAGH, : The River Meadow.’ In Ireland and Scotland it is usually applied to a stony or shingly beach, and also, in Ireland, to miry places inland. [(I) CLAD-DAGH, Islay, CLADICH.]

Garee (F), (C), ‘ a sour piece of land.’ In Galloway it is a common term for a rough hillside, or stony place. In the Isle of Man it has much the same meaning, but it is also used of boggy or sour lands, and is usually low land, though sometimes used of highlands. Thus THE GAREY, ‘ the stony,’ or ‘ boggy place.’ Being generally spelled Garey in local names, it is, unless the locality is known, impossible to distinguish it from garey, ‘ a garden.’ [(G) GAIRY.]

Alt (F), ‘ a brook, a stream, particularly in the mountains ‘ (K) ; ‘ a high place ‘ (C). This latter signification is the primitive one, it being cognate with the Latin altus. In Galloway it is applied to a height, a glen, and even the stream in the glen. In Ireland it is generally understood to mean a cliffor the side of a glen. In the only name in which it occurs in the Isle of Man—ALT,a branch of Sulby Glen—it is uncertain whether it refers to the glen side or the stream. [(I) ALTS, (G) THE ALLT.]

Slogh (K), C a pit.’ Is always pronounced sloc, just as in Irish, by Manxmen. O’Reilly gives ‘ sloc, S.M., a pit, hollow, hole, cavity, pitfall, mine.’ The slogh given by Kelly seems to be an anglicised form of the Celtic sloc. We have it in THE SLOC, of which the most suitable rendering is ‘ The Gully.’ It is on the south-east slope of CRONK-NA-ARREY-LHAA, and is well known as being the place where there are several ancient hut-dwellings ; also in Y SLOGH, ‘ The Pit ‘—on the shore close by—the name of a little stream. Jamieson’s description of sloth, ‘ an opening in the higher part of a hill where it becomes less steep, and forms a sort of pass,’ applies exactly to THE SLOC in the Isle of Man. There is a cognate Icelandic word, slakr. There is a SLOCK in Galloway, where it is also common as a compound.

Curragh, ‘ a bog, fen, marsh.’ In THE CURRAGH, ‘ The Bog,’ the name given to the large extent of boggy. land in the north of the Island, where remains of the Irish elk have been found. It formerly contaied large ponds, or small lakes, which, as late as 1690, were called ‘ meres.’ It is now drained by THE LHEN, or THE LANE ditch, but the lower parts are still boggy. [(I) THE CURRAGH.]

Moainee, moanee (F), ‘ a turbary.’ A derivative of moain, ‘ peat, turf.’ In THE MOANEY, ‘ The Turbary.’

Ellan (F), ‘ an island.’ In NELLAN (Yn-ellan), ‘ The Island.’ It is here used of a piece of higher land surrounded by marshes. Such ellans are common in the Curragh.

(e) Human Habitations, whether Buildings or Divisions of Land.

Peeley (F), (C), ‘ a fortress, tower ‘—as in PEEL. This was the name no doubt originally given to the an-cient round tower, which is of the same type as the round towers in Ireland, in the centre of the little island off PEEL-town. It was afterwards applied to the Island itself and to the later and more extensive fortifications, which were probably erected there by the Stanleys. These were repaired by Ferdinando, Earl of Derby, and an old engraving, dated 1593 [? King's view of Cathedral], represents them as being at that time in perfect condition, but since then they have fallen into ruins. At a comparatively late period (1595) this name was first applied to the town on the mainland, which was then called PEEL-town. Its oldest name was probably the Celtic PURT-NY-HINSHEY, ‘ Port of the Island.’ The Norsemen called it HOLM-TUN, which became HOLME-TOWN, and even HALLAND. TOWNE. The forts on the border between England and Scotland were called PEELS. Jamieson gives ‘pele, peyll, peel, paile—a place of strength, a fortification, properly of earth.’ [(G) PEAL HILL, (in England) PILLTOWN, PIEL-A-FOUDRY.]

Rath (I and G), ‘ a fort.’ In THE RHAA, ‘ The Fort:

This word is not found in our dictionaries, and is not known colloquially, but certainly exists in local names. [(I) RAIGH and RAY, (G) RHA.]

Carn (M), ‘ a heap of stones.’ In THE CAIRN, ‘ The heap of stones,’ or ‘ The Cairn.* These cairns are common upon the mountains, and are popularly supposed to have been raised either in memory of the dead, or of some remarkable event. There are also the more modern cairns set up to mark the tops of mountains by the Ordnance Survey. [(I) CARN, (G) THE CAIRN.]

* This word has been adopted into English.

Faaigh, faaie (F), ‘ a green, flat, grass plot, paddock’ (K) ; ‘ a field near or under a mansion-house, better manured than the other fields ‘ (C). Almost every farm has THE FAAIE, ‘ The Flat,’ in the situation described by Cregeen.

Croitt (F), ‘ a croft, a small close adjoining the house.

Croft, ‘ a piece of ground adjoining to a house’ ( Jamieson). The word ‘ croft ‘ is common in English.

‘ Tending my flocks hard by in the hilly crofts
That brow this northern glade.’—MILTON.

THE CROFT is found upon most farms, and is generally used of a small field.

Bwoailtyn, ‘folds’ (see Bwooaillee). Probably in BOTCHIN and BOSHEN, also possibly in BOLTANE and BALTHANE, found in the coinputus of Abbey Tenants, in 1540, as BYULTHAN.

Doon (M), ‘ a close.’ In THE DHOON, ‘ The Close.’ The Irish and Gaelic dun, and Welsh din, mean ‘ a fort,’ or ‘ a fortified hill,’ but, in Manx, doon seems to have retained the original meaning of a fence or enclosure, and hence the space enclosed. It is represented in English by the word town. [(I and G) DOON.]

(1) The Animal and Vegetable Kingdom.

The two following names have probably been given from fancied resemblances.

Boa (F), ‘ a cow.’ In THE BOE, ‘ The Cow,’ the name of a large rock in Castletown Bay. There is a large black rock in mid-channel of the Luce, in Galloway, called THE Bo STANE.

Goayr (F), ‘ a goat.’ In THE GOAYR, ‘ The Goat,’ the name of a small rock off the coast.

Guilc, Guilcagh (K), ‘ Broom.’ In THE GUILCAGH, ‘ The Broom.’ This is the name of a farm, which was probably so called from the quantity of the broom plant growing there. [(I) GUILCAGH.]


The following simple names are of uncertain derivation, and are therefore classed as doubtful.

Braid (K), ‘ the upper part.’ In Manx local names it is usually applied to uplands, as in THE BRAID, ‘The Upland,’ though in the case of THE BRAIDS in the parish of Maughold, which are gullies cut on the mountain-side by heavy rains, and the compound name BRAID-NY-GLIONNEY, it seems to be used in much the same sense as the Irish word braid (braghad)-—i.e., a deeply-cut glen or gorge.

Cnapan (I), ‘ a little hillock.’ Possibly in THE NAPPIN, ‘ The Little Hillock.’ This farm, in the parish of Jurby, is popularly derived from Yn abban, ‘ The Abbey,’ but this is very doubtful, as it is not even Abbey land. There are also farms called the East NAPPIN and the West NAPPIN. There is a keeiil on the West NAPPIN, which is evidently of later date than such buildings usually are. It is surrounded by a large grave-yard, fenced with an earthen bank. Inside the chapel there is a piscina. [(I) NAPPAN.]

Boireand (I), ‘ a large rock ; a stony, rocky district.’ The latter meaning appropriately describes the rough, upland district, in the parish of Patrick, called BOIRREAN. This word is not found in our dictionaries and is not known colloquially.

There is a small stream at the north of the Island, called THE DHOOR, which name is also given to the district through which it flows. It is just possible that it may be from the Irish and Gaelic dobhar, ‘ water,’ of which the Manx dubbyr is probably a corruption. THE DHOOR may then be translated ‘ The Water.’ [(I) DOWER, DORE, (G) DOVERAN.]

The name BEAREY, applied to a mountain, probably has some connection with Eary, ‘ a moor.’

Meayl, Meyll (K), ‘ a cape, bare headland, top of a hill.’ In THE MEAYLL, ‘ The Cape.’ This name has been placed under the heading ‘ doubtful,’ simply because, in this special case, the name is only of recent introduction into our maps—the old name of the hilly district so called being THE MULL, which is of Scandinavian origin. It is invariably pronounced Mull. There is, however, no doubt that the word meal, meaning primarily a lump, mass, or heap of anything, is used in Ireland and Scotland of mountains, hills, hillocks and promontories. In Galloway there are four mountains, of over 1,400 feet high, called MEAULL. [(I) MOYLE, (G) MEAULL.]

Quing (F), ‘ a yoke.’ This word would seem to be found in THE WHING, ‘ The Yoke,’ the name of a place in the parish of Andreas.

Cregeen translates S’cregganagh, ‘ how full of small rocks.’ In YN SCREGGANAGH it is probably used substantively, with the meaning of ‘ The Rocky Place,’ which exactly describes the shore under Clay Head, where the name is found.

Aash (M), ‘ ease, rest.’ Possibly in NAISH (Yn aalsh), ‘The Rest.’

Colloo (F), the Manx name for the Calf Island, would appear to be a corruption of the O.N. kalv, as garroo of the earlier garw. Cregeen and Kelly were evidently much puzzled about its derivation. The former says : ‘ Conjectures in such cases are endless—some persons will have it to be from cooyl-halloo (behind the land), others that it is from coayt (loss), and others that it is so called on account of it being formerly frequented by puffins, this word Colloo being their principal note ‘ ! Kelly gives ‘ Catloo on Calv, the Calf of Man,’ but wisely does not attempt any explanation.

Sniaul, the Celtic name of the highest mountain in the Island, would likewise seem to be a corruption of the O.N. SNÆFELL. Our lexicographers are also ingenious in their surmises about this name. According to Cregeen it is from sniaghty, ‘ snow,’ while Gill takes refuge in nifut or niul, ‘ a mist, or bog,’ and the Gaelic Neul, ‘ a cloud,’ as possible derivations.


Part II.


(a) Mountains, Hills, Rocks.

Slieau (M), ‘ mountain, hill.’ The usual name in the Isle of Man for a mountain, as in SLIEAU-REE, ‘ King’s Hill.’ [(I) SLIEVEBLOOM, (G) SLEWCREEN.]

Baare (M), ‘ top, point, extremity.’ Generally of the tòp of a hill, as in BAREDOO, ‘ Black-top.’ [(I) BARROE, (G) BARNESS.]

Mullagh (M), ‘ top, summit.’ Has much the same meaning as baare, as in MULLAGHOUYR, ‘ Dun-top.’ [(I) MULLAGHBANE, (G) TULLOCHARD.]

Cnoc (K), ‘ hill,’ is used of a lower elevation than SLIEAU, being even occasionally applied to tumuli, as in KNOCK-E-DOOINEY, ‘ Man’s Hill.’ It is a very common prefix. [(I) KNOCKAGAPPLE, (G) KNOCKBRECK.]

Ard (M), ‘ a hill, a highland, a rising ground.’ As in ARDWHALLAN (Whuallian), ‘ Whelp’s Hill.’ [(I) ARMAGH, (G) ARDNAMURCHAN.]

Eanin, eaynin (F), ‘ a precipice.’ In ENYM-MOOAR, formerly ENIN-MOOAR, ‘ Big Precipice.’ This farm is close by the almost precipitous western side of CRONK-NY-ARREY-LHAA. Eanin is used colloquially in Manx, though it is not found in Irish or Gaelic.

Ughtagh (F), ‘ an acclivity.’ Only in UGHTAGH-BREESH.MY-CHREE, ‘ Break-my-heart Hill.’ This word is not now known colloquially. It is used by Bishop Wilson, in Matthew vii. 32, for the ‘ steep place’ down which the swine ran, but eaynee is substituted for it in the modern version. [(I) UGHTYNEILL.]

Geaylin (F), ‘ a shoulder.’ Is used of the shoulder of a hill ; it occurs in one local name only : GEAYLINNY-CREGGYN, ‘ Shoulder of the Rocks.’ [(I) SHANAGOLDEN.]

Clagh (F), ‘ a stone.’ As in CLAGHBANE, ‘ White Stone.’ [(I) CLOGHLEA, (G) CLAWBELLY.]

The following are also found as simple terms:

Cronk. As in CRONK-NY-MONA (Moainee), ‘ Hill of the Turbary.’ This is one of the commonest prefixes in the language. [(I) CROCKANURE.]


Liargagh, targagh. As in LARGYRHENNY (rennee), ‘ Fern’s Slope.’ [ (I) LARGYNAGREANA, (G) LHARGIE Point.]

Aeree, eary. As in EARY-KELLAGH, ‘ Cock Moor.’ [(G) ARIENGOUR.]

Reeast. As in REEAST-MOOAR, ‘ Big Waste.’ [(I) RIASKMORE, (G) RISKMORE.]

Rinn, rheynn. As in RHENSHENT (sheeant), ‘ Holy Ridge.’[ (I) RINVILLE, (G) RINGREER.]

Dreem, Dreeym. As in DREEMRUY, ‘ Red Hill-back.’ [(I) DRUMROE, (G) DRUMNAKILL.]

Creg, craig. As in CREGLEA (lkeeah), ‘ Grey Crag.’ [(I) CREGBOY, (G) CRAIGDHU.]

(b) Sea-coast.

Gob. As in GOB BREAC, Speckled Point.’ [(I) GUBBACROCK.]

Kione (M), a head.’ As in KIONE DOOLISH, Douglas Head.’ In local names kione means either head,’ in the sense of headland, point, promontory, an instance of which has been given already, or end,’ as in KENTRAUGH (kione.traih), ‘ Shore-end.’ [(I) KENMARE, (G) CANTIRE, (W) PENMAENMAWR.]

Carrig, carrick (see p. 134). As in CARRICK Rock in Ramsey Bay. The addition of the word rock would tend to show that the meaning of carrick must have been generally forgotten when it was made.

Carrick is seldom found inland in the Isle of Man, while its contraction, creg, occurs both inland and on the coast. [(I) CARRICKFERGUS, (G) CARRICK Point.]

Strom (F), literally a nose,’ is used in local names of a promontory or headland, as in STROIN-VUIGH, 'Yellow Headland.’ [(I) SROANKEERAGH, (G) STRONHAVIE.]

Baie, baih (F), a bay.’ Possibly a word of English origin, as in BAY-NY-CARRICKEY, Bay of the Rocks.’

Traie, traih (F), shore, strand.’ As in TRAIEBANE, White Shore.’ [(I) TRALEE.]

Purt (F), a port, harbour, landing-place.’ As in PURTMOOAR, Big Port.’ [(I) PORTRUSH, (G) PORT-PATRICK.]

Or, or ooirr (K), a border, coast, limit,’ only in OR VOOAR, Big Coast.’ Ooirr-ny-Marrey is The margin of the sea.’

Ellan. As in ELLAN VANNIN, Mannan’s Isle,’ the Manx name of the Isle of Man. Ellan is, how-ever, more frequently used of a piece of land surrounded by marshes, as in ELLAN-Y-VODDEE, Isle of the Dogs.’ [(I) ELLANFAD, (G) ELLAN-NAROAN.]

Innis (K), an island.’ Occurs only as a prefix in the ancient poetical name of the Isle of Man : INNIS-SHEEANT, Holy Isle.’ In a rescript from Pope Pius II., dated 1459, to Thomas Stanley, we find that the island, having been honoured by the relics of certain saints, has been commonly called down to the present day the Holy Island ‘ (Insula Sancta).

Boa. In BOE Norris, ‘ Norris’s Cow,’ an islet in Castletown Bay.

(c) Glens, Lowlands, Rivers, Bogs.

Glione and Glion (F), a glen.’ As in GLIONE-FEEAGH, Raven’s Glen.’ It is, however, more usual in its English form, as in GLEN-DARRAGH, Oak Glen.’ [(I) GLENDUFF, (G) GLENCOE.]

Coan, Couan (M), a valley.’ As in COANRENNEE, Ferns’ Valley,’ or Ferny Valley.’ This word is used colloquially in Manx, though there is nothing in Irish or Gaelic to correspond with it.

Lag, Laggey. As in LAGBANE, White Hollow.’ Lag is also the technical term for a turf cutting, so it is sometimes found high up in the mountains. [(I and G) LAGMORE.]

Lheeanee (F), a meadow.’ As in LEEANEE-VOOAR Big Meadow.’ [(I) LENAMORE.]

Cooil. As in COOIL-CAM, Winding Nook.’ [(I) COOL-BANE, (G) CULROSS.]

Barney (F), a gap.’ In BARNA-ELLAN-RENNY (rennee), Ferns’ Island Gap,’ or Ferny Island Gap.’ [(I) BARNAGEEHY, (G) BARNEY-Water.]

Claare (M), a dish.’ In CLAARE-OUR (ouyr), ‘ Dun Dish.’ CLAARE-OUYR is an old circular earth-work near St. Marks, exactly the shape of a dish.
The Irish word clar means a level place.’ [(I) CLARE, (G) CLAREHILL.]

Loob (M), literally, a loop.’ Usually applied in Manx local names to winding mountain gulleys, as in LHOOB-Y-REEAST, Gulley of the Waste.’ Clarke, in the English-Manx portion of the Manx Society’s Dictionary, translates slope by bob ; but this usage is now obsolete colloquially, though it may be applicable to some of the bobs in local names. [(I) LOOBAGH, (G) LOOPMABINNIE.]

Doarlish (F), a gap.’ As in DOARLISH-CASHEN, Cashen’s Gap.’

Garee. As in GAREE-MEEN, Soft Stony-place.’

Slogh, ‘ a pit.’ In SLOC-NA-CABBYL-SCREEVAGH, Pit of the Scabby Horse.’

Awin, ‘ a river.’ As in AWIN-RUY, Red River.’ [(I and G) AVONMORE.]

Eas (K), a cascade, a waterfall.’ In NASCOIN (yn-eascoon), ‘ The Narrow Waterfall.’ [(I) ASSAROE.]

Spooyt, ‘ a spout.’ Used in SPOOYT VANE, White Spout,’ the only name in which it appears in the Isle of Man, to describe a small, narrow water-fall. Jamieson describes spout as meaning a boggy spring. [(G) SPOUT BURN.]

Logh (F), a lake, pool.’ As in LOUGHDOO, Black Lake.’ It is used only of inland waters in the Isle of Man, and these have now been for the most part drained. [(I) LOUGHREA, (G) LOUGHNESS.]

Pooyl (F), a pool, pond.’ As in POOYLBREINN, Stag-nant Pool.’ In the case of POOYL-VAISH, Death Pool,’ pooyl would seem to mean bay.’ [(I) POLLANASS, (G) POLBÆ.]

Dubbyr (K), a pond.’ Generally used of a deep pool in a river ; but also of pools of rain-water formed in hollow places in wet weather, as in DUBBYR VOOAR, ‘Big Pool.’ Dubbyr is used of a smaller piece of water than Pooyl. Jamieson explains Dub, ‘ a small pool of rain-water ;‘ while O’Reilly gives ‘Dob, river, stream.’ It is connected with the word dobbai’, ‘ water.’ [(1) DOWER, (G) DUB OF HASS.]

Curragh. As in CURRAGH GLASS, Green Curragh.’ [(I) CURRAGH GLASS.]

Moainee, Moanee. As in MOAINEE MOLLAGH, Rough Turbary.’ These turbaries were valuable proper-ties when coals were scarce and dear. [(I) MOAN VANE, (G) MONYBINE.]

Belun (M), a peak, summit, point.’ It occurs only once, certainly, as a prefix, in the name of the mountain

BEINN-Y-PHOT, or, as commonly spelt, PENNY-Pot, ‘ Point of the Pot,’ where pot seems to be merely the English word. How this somewhat absurd appellation came to be given to the mountain, the fourth highest in the island, is not known. There is a treen called BEN-DOYLE, in the parish of Santon, but, though it is rather high land, it cannot be certainly connected with beinn. The plural binn is found in BINN-BUIE, Yellow Tops.’ This is high land near the coast, the higher parts of which are covered with gorse. [(I and G) BENMORE.]

Mullagh. As in MULLAUGH-Y-SNIAUL, ‘Top of Sniaul,’ commonly called SNÆFELL.

Beeal (M), a mouth.’ As in BEAL-Y-PHURT, Mouth of the Port.’ [(I) BELCLARE, (G) BELLEW.]

Kione. As in KIONE-DROGHAD, Bridge-end.’ [(I and G) KINLOCH.]

Gob. As in GOB-NY-STRONA (Strooan), ‘ Point of the Current.’ [(I) GUBBACROCK, (G) GOBAWHILKIN.]

Cass (F), a foot.’ As in CASS-NY-HAWIN, Foot of the River.’ [(I) COSLEA.]

(d) Position.

Lisiattee (F), a side.’ As in LHIATTEE-NY-BEINNEE, Side of the Summits.’ This word would appear to be connected with lieh, ‘ half;’ but there is an Irish word lacka, a derivative from leac, meaning a hill-side, as in LACKABANE, of which it may be a corruption.

Bun (M), the bottom or end of anything.’ Found only in BUNGHEY (?). [(I) BUNLAGHEY.]

Corneil (F), a corner, an angle.’ Probably a word of English origin ; found only in CORNEIL-Y-KILLAGH, Corner of the Church.’ By an act of Tynwald, in 1834, the Parish Church of Michael was ordered to be built on the vicar’s ancient glebe, and a parcel of land, called CORNEIL-Y-KILLAGH, to be given to the vicar instead.

(e) Human Habitation.

Magher (M), a field.’ As in MAGHER-Y-CHIARN, Field of the Lord.’ Machair in Irish and Gaelic generally means a plain, and seldom a field, which is its invariable meaning in Manx. [(I) MAGHERABOY, (G) MACHERBRAKE.]

Faaigh, Faaie. As in FAAIE-NY-CABBAL, Flat of the Chapel.’ [(I) FAHYKEEN.]

Close (K), a close.’ As in CLOSE-AN-ELLAN, Close of the Island.’ This is probably a word of English origin. Jamieson describes it as an area before a house,a courtyard beside a farmhouse, in which cattle are fed, and where straw, etc., are deposited, or an enclosure, a place fenced in.’ In Manx it simply means a small field. [(G) CLOSE Bill.]

Croitt. As in CROT-E-CALEY, Caley’s Croft.’ [(G) CROTFOY.]

Thalloo (M), land earth.’ In Manx local names, usually of a small plot of ground, as in THALLOOVELL, Bell’s Land.’ [(I) TALLOWROE, (G) TALLOWGUHAIRN.]

Pairk (M), a park.’ Used in Manx local names of a large enclosure of grass-land, generally in the mountains, as in PAIRK-NY-EARKAN, Park of the Lapwing.’ [(I) PARKATLEVA, (G) PARKMACLURG.]

Garey (M), a garden.’ As in GAREY FEEYNEY, Vine Garden.’ It is often confused in local names with garee (see p. 135). [(I) GARRYOWEN, (G) GARRIE.FAD.]

Mwannal (M), ‘ a neck.’ Used in local names of a narrow part of a field, as in MWANNAL-Y-GUIY, ‘ Neck of the Goose.’

Stugg, Stuggey (M), ‘ a lump, a large portion (K), ‘ A part or piece of a thing.’ (C) In Manx local names it is used of a piece of a field fenced off, so as to render the large piece more regular in shape, as in STUCKEYDOO, formerly STUGGADOO, ‘ Black Piece.’ A stout, short man or woman in called colloquially a sthugga. In Fifeshire a stout woman is called a stug.

Bwoaillee (F) (pl. bwoailtyn), ‘ a fold.’ As in BWOAILLEE LOSHT, ‘ Burnt Fold,’ and BUILTCHYN RHENNY (rennee), ‘ Ferny Fold,’ or ‘ Ferns’ Fold.’ It is a very common word in local nomenclature, especially in field-names, which are not to be found in maps.

It was an old custom to fence off a portion of a field and then to turn sheep and cattle into it. When it was thoroughly manured they were transferred to another similar space. These were called bwoailtyn, or builtchyn. Spenser, in his ' View of the State of Ireland,’ describes a different usage there : ‘ There is one use amongst them, to keepe their cattle, and to live themselves in booties, pasturing upon the mountain and waste wild places, and removing still to fresh land, as they have depastured the former.’ Here booley refers to the mountain-hut where they lived. It was also applied in Ireland to any place where cattle were fed or milked. In the Isle of Man it means simply a fold or pen, and is quite as common on the low as on the high lands. [(I) BOOLDARRAGH.]

Croa (K), ‘ a pen,’ generally of a sheep-fold. As in CROCREEN, ‘ Ripe or Withered (?) Pen.’ There is an Icelandic word, kro, with the same meaning, but it is probably taken from the Celtic. In Ireland it also means a hut or hovel. [(I) KRO- KEVIN.]

Uhilin (C), ‘ a stackyard or hay-yard.' In MAGHERYN-ULLIN, ‘ Field of the Stackyard.’ This word would seem to be a corruption of the Irish ith-lann, ‘ corn-house.’

Cleigh, Cleiy (M), ‘ a hedge, a bank.’ As in CLYBANE, ‘ White Hedge.’ [(I) CLYDUFF, (G) CLAYGRANE.]

Scrah (K), Scraig (C), (F), ‘ a turf, a sod.’ Probably in SCRAVORLEY (voc~lley), ‘ Sod Fence. [(I) SCRALEA.]


Keelli (F), ‘ a cell, a church.’ As in KEEILL VREESHEY, ‘ Bridget’s Cell.’ These tiny churches were probably erected for the most part by the Culdees, between the fifth and eighth centuries. The Culdees were religious recluses who spent their lives in solitary prayer and bodily mortification. The Isle of Man must have been a favourite resort of theirs, as the sites of nearly one hundred of these keeills are still to be found ; of which about thirty possess names. They were evidently not intended for congregations, as their internal measurement does not exceed twenty feet by twelve feet, and they are, moreover, distributed so promiscuously that the theory started by the Traditionary Ballad,* and eagerly accepted by most of those who have written on the subject, that there was one for every treen,' cannot be substantiated by the facts. [ (I) KILBREEDY, (G) KILMORIE.]

* Train, History of the Isle of Man, p. 52.

+ For treen, see post

Cabbal (F), ‘ a chapel.’ As in CABBAL-YN.OURAL LOSHT, ‘ Chapel of the Burnt Sacrifice.’ Cabbal is quite a modern word, and seems to be merely a corrup tion of ‘ chapel.’ Cumming draws an elaborate distinction between the cabbal of the fifth century and the keeill of the sixth, which, apart from the fact that the word cabbal was unknown at that date, seems a very doubtful one 1

1 Manx Soc., Vol. XV.

Rhullick (C), Ruillic (Cl), Relic (Gi), ‘ a graveyard.’

As in RULLICK-NY-QUAKERYN, ‘ Graveyard of the Quakers.’ [(I) REILICK-MURRY.]

Oaie (F), ‘ a grave, a tomb.’ In OAIE-NY-FOAWR, ‘ Grave of the Giant.’ Nothing corresponding to this word is found in either Irish or Gaelic.

Lhiaght (M), ‘ a tombstone, a pile of stones in memory of the dead.’ Found only in LHIAGHT-E-KINRY, ‘ Kinry’s Tombstone.’ This was erected in memory of a person of this name, who was rash enough to wager that he would run naked from Douglas to Bishop’s Court and back on a snowy day, and who perished in the attempt.1

1 Feltham’s Tour, Manx Soc., Vol. VI.

Cashtal (K), ‘ a castle.’ As in CASHTAL REE GOREE, ‘ King Orree’s Castle.’ [(I) CASTLEDARGAN, (G) CASTLEDOUGLAS.]

Rath. Probably occurs in The RAA MOOAR, ‘ The Big Fort,’ now a heap of stones in a commanding position by the shore in the parish of Maughold. The supposition that this may be the remains of an ancient fort is strengthened by the fact that the rocky point below is called GOB-YN.CASHTAL. [(I) RAHARD.]

Thie (M), ‘ a house.’ As in THIE JUAN NED, ‘ John Ned’s House.’ [(I) TYFARNHAM, (G) TYDEAVERYS.]

Soclt (F), ‘ a barn.’ As in THOLT-E-WILL, ‘ Will’s Barn.’ [(I) SAUL.]

Droghaci (F), ‘ a bridge.’ As in DROGHAD FAYLE, ‘ Fayle’s Bridge.’ [(I) DROGHEDA, (G) DR0cH Head.]

Mwyllin (C), Mwüiin (K) (p1. Mwiljin), ‘ a mill.’ As in MULLEN-E-CORRAN, ‘ Corran’s Mill.’ Early in the sixteenth century water-mills were established in large numbers by the Lord of the Isle, who ordered the old querns, or hand-mills, to be broken up, so that the farmers were compelled to send their corn to be ground at his mills. It would appear that, in spite of these regulations, some of the querns survived, as many fines for not bringing corn to be ground are recorded in the manorial books. We learn from the Statute Book that ‘ all the mulcture, toll and soken of all corn and graine within the Island ‘* belonged to the Lord, who no doubt derived a considerable revenue in this way. [(I) MULLENMORE.]

 * Statute Law Book, Vol. I., p. 85 (A.D. 1636).

Chibber (F), ‘ a well.’ As in CHIBBER VOIRREY, ‘ Mary’s Well.’ The numerous well-names in the Isle of Man are usually found near old ecclesiastical sites, as the holy recluses would naturally build their keelils near springs, where they would construct wells both for their own personal convenience as well as for baptizing their disciples. Some of these wells were formerly much venerated, as their waters were supposed to possess sanative qualities, and to be of special virtue as charms against witchcraft and fairies. They were generally visited on Ascension Day and on the first Sunday in August, calledyn chied doonaghtyn ourr, ‘ the first Sunday of the harvest,’ when the devotees would drop a small coin into the well, drink of the water, repeat a prayer, in which they mentioned their ailments, and then decorate the well, or the tree overhanging it, with flowers and other votive offerings, usually rags. They believed that when the flowers withered or the rags rotted their ailments would be cured. These rites have been observed in the Isle of Man within the memory of those nowliving. There is a well on GOB-Y-VOLLEE, called CHIBBER LANSH (where the meaning of lansh is uncertain), consisting of three pools, which was formerly much resorted to for the cure of sore eyes. The cure could only be effective if the patient came on Sunday and walked three times round each pool, saying in Manx, Ayns enym yn Ayr, as y Vac, as y Spyrryd Nu, ‘ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,’ and then applied the water to his or her eye. [(I) TOBERAKEENA, (G) TOBERMORY.]

Crosh (F), ‘ a cross.’ As in CROSH-MOOAR, ‘ Big Cross,’ and CROSH Sulby, ‘ Sulby Cross,’ both ofwhich have disappeared. [(I) CROSSGAR, (G) CROSSMAGLEN.]

Carn. As in CARN GERJOIL, ‘ Joyful Cairn.’ [(I) CARNACALLY, (G) CAIRNGORM.]

Raad (M), ‘ a road.’ As in RAAD-JIARG, ‘ Red Road.’ The rainbow was called RAAD REE GORREE, ‘ King Orry’s Road.’

Bayr (M), ‘ a road ‘ (K), ‘ a way, avenue ‘ (C). As in BAREGARROW, ‘ Rough Road.’ [(I) BOHERKILL.]

Cassan (M), ‘ a path.’ As in CASSAN KEIL, ‘ Narrow Path.’ [(I) CASSANKERRY, (G) CASSENCARIE.]

Cronk and Knock are used in local names for artificial structures, such as tumuli and barrows, as well as hills. Thus CRONK-E-DOOINEY, ‘ Man’s Hill,’ and KNOCK-E-DOOINEY with the same meaning.

Clagh is also used for stone pillars erected as memorials. As in CLAGH ARD, ‘ High Stone.’


The following generic terms can only be classed as doubtful.

Lann (I, G, and W), ‘ an enclosure, a house, a church,’ is not found in our dictionaries, and is not known colloquially, though we have the word ullin (eithlann, ‘ corn-house,’ see p. 151). Dr. Joyce remarks that when it means ‘ house ‘ it is a purely Irish word ; but that in its ecclesiastical signification it was borrowed from the Welsh. It would seem, however, that its earliest meaning was simply an enclosure, and it is in this sense that it is probably found in the only name in which it occurs as a prefix in the Isle of Man—LANJAGHIN, ‘ Deacon’s Enclosure,’ or ‘ Joughin’s Enclosure.’ [(I) LANDMORE, (G) LANDIS.]

Braid. In BRAID-NY-BOSHEN (bwoailtyn), ‘ Upland of the Folds,’ and BRAID-NY-SKARRAG, ‘ Upland of the Skate.’ The mountain-ridge so called is sup-posed to be the shape of a skate ; also in BRAID-NY-GLIONNEY, ‘ Gorge of the Glen.’

There is in Ireland a word cor, commonly used as a topographical term in the meanings of round hill, a round pit, or cup-like hollow, a turn or bend in a road. In the Isle of Man it seems to occur in two names only, viz. : CORMONAGH (moanagh), ‘ Round Turfy Hollow,’ and CORLEA (lheeah), ‘ Round Gray Hill.’

The other cors are either from the (0. N.) personal name Con, or from the adjective coar, ‘ pleasant,’ or at least either con or coar would be more appropriate topographically than cor, except in the two names above. There are also CORRONY, which is a corruption of (O.N.) CORNA, and CORRADY, which is obscure. There is a CORRODY in Ireland, which name is said to be connected with a peculiar legal tenure.

Cor is not found in Manx dictionaries, and it is not known colloquially. [(I) CORBEAGH.]

Boireand. As in BORRANE-CREG-LIEH (lheeah) ‘ Rocky District of the Gray Crag,’ as its translation would seem to be ; but it is a name actually applied to an old earthen fortification near the Niarbyl, on the seashore. There are four forts marked in the Ordnance Survey along the sea-line in this district. J ust above it there is an earthwork called BORRANE BALEBLY, about thirty yards long by twenty.two broad.

The name of the LHANE* MOOAR, or the LHEN MOOAR, which drains the Curragh, is etymologically obscure, though it probably means ‘ The Great Ditch.’ Sir Herbert Maxwell, in explaining LANE BURN in Galloway, quotes Jamieson. ‘ Lane. I. A brook, of which the motion is so slow as to be scarcely perceptible ; the hollow course of a large rivulet in a meadow ground. 2 Applied to those parts of a river or rivulet which are so smooth as to answer to this description.’ There is no word corresponding to lhane or lhen in our dictionaries, except the adjective lane, ‘ full,’ and it is only known colloquially as applied with the meaning of trench or ditch to the great Curragh drain. Certainly the current of the water in the LHANE MOOAR is quite slow enough to answer Jamieson’s description, though it can hardly be accepted as a satisfactory derivation.

 * Not connected with lann, ‘ an enclosure.’

Part III.


There are certainly two terminations that denote smallness in Manx : an (I and G, an) and aeg (I and G, og), and possibly there are two others, een (I, in) and en (I, en) ; but these are not so easily identified. Of these, an is the most common ; but in many of the words ending in it the original meaning of smallness has been quite lost. Thus:

 Strooan (F), ‘A stream, rivulet.’ As in STROAN-NYCRAUE, Stream of the Bone.’ There is nothing in Manx to correspond to the Irish and Gaelic sruth. [(I) SRUTHANMORE.J

Carnane (diminutive of cam). As in The CARNANE, ' The pile of stones or cairn,' and CARNANE-BRECK, Speckled Cairn.’ [(I) CARNANE BANE.]

Creggan, originally a diminutive of creg, is explained by Kelly as meaning a hillock, a rocky place, a barrow, a heap of stones,’ and by Cregeen as a place or piece of ground left uncultivated in consequence of being rocky or containing stones; generally overgrown with gorse or underwood.’ The most suitable translation would appear to be rocky hillock.’ As in The CREGGANS, CREGGAN MOAR, Big Rocky Hillock,’ NY-CREGGANYN, The Rocky Hillocks,’ and probably CROGGANE, Rocky Hillock.’ [(I) CREGGANE, (G) CRAIGENBUY.]

In the following the diminutive signification has been retained:

Knockan, ‘ hillock.’ As in KNOCKAN and KNOCKANAALIN, Beautiful Hillock.’ [(I and G) KNOCKANDOO.]

Cronkan. As in CRONKAN-RENNY (rennee), ‘ Ferns’ Hillock,’ or Ferny Hillock,’ and in the corrupt form cronnan, as in CRONNAN.MOOAR, ‘ Big Hillock.’

Laggan, ‘ a little hollow.’ As in LAGGANDOO, Black Little Hollow.’ [(I) LAGANEANY, (G) LAGGANHARNIE.]

Loghan, ‘a pond.’ As in LOUGHAN-Y-GUIY, Pond of the Goose.’ [(I) LOUGHANASKIN, (G) LOCHINBRECK.]
(See cnapan under Simple Names.)

Aeg, literally young, is not recognised either in our dictionaries or colloquially as a diminutive, though it has undoubtedly the same signification as the Irish og, anglicised og, oge, ogue, which is very common both in personal and local names. It occurs in the following:

Lheeanag (F), a little meadow.’ As in The LEENAG.

Cronnag. A corruption of CRONK-AEG, Little Hill,’ and the plural NY CRONNAGYN, The Little Hills.’

Crossag (crosh-aeg). In The CROSSAG BRIDGE, The Little Cross Bridge,’ near Rushen Abbey. This is probably the oldest bridge in the island, dating from the thirteenth century. Its breadth in the centre is only three feet three inches.

Crammag. The farm so called is popularly derived from crammag, ‘ a snail,’ and the explanation given is that this farm is so steep that either nothing but a snail could get up it, or that you must ascend the hill at a snail’s pace. It is quite true that the farmhouse is situated on so steep a slope that it is very difficult to get a cart up to it ; but perhaps the following explanation is a more satisfactory one : Joyce, in treating of crom, ‘ bent, inclined, crooked,’ refers to two diminutives of it : Cromane and Cromage, which, he says, signify ‘anything sloping or bending, and give names to many places.’* Sir Herbert Maxwell mentions a place called CRAMMAG, in Galloway, as being the name of a sea-cliff. The best translation of CRAMMAG would seem, therefore, to be The Little Cliff.’

( The termination aeg is also found as a diminutive in the following affixes : sceabag, cuilleig, kill. eig, beishteig.)

* Series 2, p. 399.

The diminutive een perhaps occurs in CLYEEN, which may be a corruption of Cleiy-een, ‘ Little Hedge,’ the name of a farm adjoining the Northern Tynwald at CRONK URLEY. Possibly this name may have some connection with the ancient fence round the court. Cleiy means a mound, dyke, or rampart of any kind, as well as a hedge.

The diminutive en is perhaps found in the doubtful RUSHEN (ros-een), ‘ Little Wood ‘ (see post).


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