Puzzling Place Names

The Great Parchment Book contains many types of places used in different contexts. Land in Northern Ireland was divided into counties, parishes, and townlands of varying sizes, and it is the townland designation that is largely used in the Great Parchment Book to describe which pieces of land are held.  However, there are also other sorts of places named including estates, manors, castles, towns, streets, mountains, bogs, rivers… Once the place names have been transcribed – and they are not always obvious, especially when part of the name is missing or illegible – we have to decide what ‘type’ of a place it is and then identify the modern equivalent if possible since anyone searching for a specific place will use the modern terminology. Of course, there is also no guarantee that both the current and the Great Parchment Book place names refer to the same place. For example, folio G2v mentions the two townlands of ‘Lismakerell Bogge and Lismakerell Moore’ but there is currently only one townland called Lismacarol. In addition, the name as found in the Great Parchment Book may not exactly match modern place names and some deciphering may be necessary: Tarquiny vs Tirkeeveny; Moymucklemurray vs Moy mc Gillwory; Mullagh vs Meola. Some of the place names are used to identify landholders, such as William Wray of the city of Dublin; Radcliffe Kirk of Blessingbourne in the county of Tyrone; and Edward Hill of Farsetmore in the county of Donegal. Helpfully, Dublin, Tyron, and Donegal have been specified a bit further, and a quick search on the internet reveals that Blessingbourne refers to an estate and Farsetmore is a townland.  However, some names refer to many types of places. Coleraine is a town, a parish, and a townland, while Londonderry is a county and a city, and these are not always specified. One can only hope that the writers of the book knew which places they were talking about!

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