The Placenames of County Wicklow - origins and meanings

Compiled as part of student work experience in the Heritage Office of Wicklow County Council using “The Placenames of County Wicklow” by Liam Price as source material. 

Annacurra/Eanach Curraigh

Probably the ‘Passage through the marsh’.

Arklow/An t-Inbhear Mór

Arklow got its name from the Norse personal name Arnkell, combined with lo, ‘swamp’, or ‘low-lying meadow near water’. The Irish for Arklow, ‘An t-Inbhear Mór’ translates into ‘the big estuary’ relating to the mouth of the Avoca river at Arklow.

Ashford/Áth na Fuinseoige

The name Ashford was conjured up in the 18th for this village on the main Dublin road. The townland was formally part of Ballymacahara. Áth na Fuinseoige is a literal translation of Ashford.

Áth na mbó/Annamoe

The Irish word for this small village ‘Áth na mbó’ translates into ‘ford of the cattle’


Eachdhruim (i.e. ‘horse-ridge) is usually given as the Irish form of the name, however there are many variations. There seems to be a word ‘dronn’, ‘druim’, with the same primary meaning as ‘druinn’, i.e. ‘ridge’


This village was formally known as Newbridge, then it was re-named after the Avoca River, which runs through the village.

Ballycoog/Baile Chuag

One of the prominent families of the O’ Byrne’s in Wicklow was Gabhal Siomóin; ‘Cúug’ was the name of the grandson of Siomóin. Perhaps we have some form of the name Cúug in Ballycoog.

 Baltinglass/Bealach Conglais

The name Bealach Conglais would appear to exist before the Cistercian Abbey was founded there in the 12th century, it was the name of a road, the road or pass of Cú Glas. The change in the pronunciation of the name from a ‘k’ sound to ‘t’ was the result of it being shortened from a four to a three syllable word, the new name ‘Baltinglas’ then became stereotyped after the grant of the lands of the suppressed Abbey to Sir Thomas Eustace in 1541.

 Ballyknockan/Buaile a Chnocáin

This small village became Ballyknockan from 1760 onwards. The name refers to the hilly and mountainous landscape all around.

Ballinaclash/Baile na Claise

The early form seems to contain some case of the word clasach or claiseach,rather than clais, the meaning being the same, ‘ditch’ or ‘trench’, referring to the hollow through the Avonbeg River runs here.

Barndarrig/Bearna Dhearg

Barndarrig is a relatively small village in the Barony of Arklow and Newcastle, there are two other instances of this name in Co. Wicklow. It appears to be a name used for an old road called the ‘the Red Lane or the ‘Red Pass’, hence its Irish name Bhearna Dhearg.

Blessington/Baile Coimín

The area was formally known as ‘Baile Comaoine’, and it translated into ‘Blessingtown’ (According to L. Price 1946); the word blessing was apparently used in the biblical sense of a gift or a favour bestowed, which is the meaning of the word ‘comaoin’. ‘Blessingtown’ is still the pronunciation used by the old people in Co. Wicklow.


It’s most probable that the original name of the town was ‘Brea’ and that was the name of the river. It is not clear when the spelling Bray began to be used, Bray is a fairly common place name in England.

Carnew/Carnán Bhua

The ‘Name book’ gives the local pronunciation in 1838 as ‘Cor-noo’. The old people in the area still call it ‘Curnoo’, with stress on the second syllable. The older Irish name for the town is ‘Carn na Buadha’ which translates into ‘The Hill of Victory’.

Coolboy/An Cúl Buí

‘Cul buidhe’ means ‘yellow back place’, meaning perhaps on the other side of town.

Coolafancy/Cúl na Fuinnse

The centre of the townland is a hill, so the name may be ‘Cul na fuinnse’, which means ‘black hill of the ash tree’.

Coolattin/Cúil Aitinn

Comes from ‘Cúl aitinn’, ‘back hill of the furze’, seems to be the meaning, derived from the hill in Coolattin townland.


The name is the anglicised form of ‘Cómhgaire’, meaning ‘meetings’. This is referring to where the Avonmore and Avonbeg River meet nearby.


The village of Delgany may have got his name from a personal name. Records show of the existence of a person named ‘Deilgine’ in the genealogy of UI Garrchon.

Donard/Dún Árd

The dún in the name means ‘fortress’. There is no fort there now, but it may have come from the nearby hillock, which rises up prominently from the flat surrounding ground, so that the description ‘ard’, high would be properly applied to it.

Dunlavin/Dún Luáin

The dún to which the village refers to represents ‘Tornant Mat’, in the parish of Dunlavin, one mile south of the town. Tornant Mat is a large circular fort, with bank and fosse and raised centre, it was constructed in the early Christian period. There is no explanation of ‘Lavin’ as of yet, except that it is no doubt a personal name. The name ‘Lobhan’ occurs as the name of a druid in the life of St. Ruadan (Lives of Irish Saints).

Enniskerry/Áth na Sceire

The name is derived from the ford, which was near the bridge of Enniskerry where the old road crossed the Cookstown River. An older form of the name Enniskerry is ‘Annakerry’ which was anglicised from ‘áth na scairbhe’, which means rocky or rough ford.

Glendalough/Gleann dá Lough

This name pretty simply means the glen of the two lakes, which is describing the upper lake and lower lake of the glen. These lakes provide a beautiful setting for the ruined monastery and round tower nearby. St. Kevin founded this monastery here in the 6th century.

Glenealy/Gleann Fhaidhle

A saint named in Martyrology of Tallaght is Enan of Glenn Faidle.

Gleanmalure/Gleann Moluara

The name Glenmalure probably formed from a personal name, possibly from Glenn Maoilughra of the Four Masters.

Glencree/Gleann Crí

This name represents an Irish name that was then in use centuries ago. Probably the rendering Gleann Criothaigh , given by Dr. O Foghludha in his Logainmneacha. Criothach would mean ‘the shaking bog or marass’ which would describe the western part of the valley.


This small village has been known as Greenane since 1668. Variations of the name include ‘Greenan Beg’ and ‘Greenan More’.

Greystones/Na Cloca Liatha

There were only a few fishermen’s cottages and a coastguard station here before the railway was built. It is now an expanding commuter town to Dublin. The name of the town simply refers to the grey stones, which cover the beach.

Hollywood/Cillín Chaoimhín

The name is a translation of the Latin name ‘Sanctum Nemus’ meaning holy-wood. We know that this area was wooded country in earlier times. There is records of a ‘pilgrims road’ being built through the woods here and on to Glendalough in the 7th or 8th century. It was from this that it came to be known as ‘holy-wood’.

Johnstown/Baile Seáin

A modernisation of some Irish form of the name ‘Johnock’, such as ‘baile Sheanóig. Johnstown is recorded as being the place south of Arklow in 1586. A deed in 1497, records a lease of Killahurler church nearby to ‘John English Alias Galt’. Johnston might well be named after him.

Kilcoole/Chill Chomhghaill

This name is of ecclesiastical origin and literally means the church of Chuile, who founded the church in the village.

Kiltegan/Chill Tagáin

Meaning the church of Tegáin, who was thought to be a companion of St. Patrick and St. Fiacc.

Kilpedder/ Cill Pheadair

The name is in dedication to St. Peter, which also points to an Anglo-Norman foundation of the town.

Lachen/An Leacain

Leacain’ is a hillside slope, which describes accurately the upper part of the town-land of Lachen.

Laragh/An Láithreach

The story told in ‘The third Life of Coemgen’ suggests that the Abbey of Glendalough may have had a house of shelter for travellers in the village of Laragh in early medieval times; the village is only a short distance to the famous old monastery of Glendalough.


Its full name is ‘The Meeting of the Waters’ and is a modern name, describing where the Avonbeg and Avonmore rivers meet to form the Avoca river. This point was made famous by the poems of Tomas Moore. This place is part of the old townland of Ballihughduffe.

Moneystown/Muine Glas

This area was formally known as ‘Muine Glas’ meaning green shrubbery. The Walshes of Old Connaught owned Moneystown in the 17th century.

Newcastle/An Caisleán nua

The old name this area was ‘Mackineganorum’, which derived from Findacan son of Fiacra son of Maelchainnech of the ‘UI Briuin Cualann’. An Anglo-Norman mote castle was built here at the end of the 12th century and the lands became a royal manor.

Newtownmountkennedy/Baile an Chinnéidigh

Named after the Mount Kennedy demesne of the area. The area was also once called ‘Seasonpark’. This name probably refers to the obtaining of ‘seizin’, that is, possession, of some part of the old denomination of Cooladoyle by Robert Kennedy. Seizin was the old spelling of the word season.

Rathnew/Rath Naoi

Rathnew is the Anglicisation of Rath Naoi, which means the rath or fort of Naoi. Naoi was the name of a brother of Masc, the founder of Dún Masc. The name of the parish, also called Rathnew, is not of ecclesiastical, but of pagan origin.

Rathdrum/Ráth Droma

Droma probably signifies the ‘droim’ which is a ridge. This could be related to the fact that the town is built on a slope and some of the streets are quite hilly. The ‘rath’ of course signifies a fortress.

Redcross/Crois Dhearg

The name Redcross originates from its days as an estate village when a wooden cross, which was painted red, stood in the centre of the village in the 18th and 19th century.

Its old Irish name is ‘Baile Dhomnaill Ruadh’ which came from a story that Red Hugh O Donnaill stayed there while on his way south to escape capture from the Crown forces in the 16th century.

Roundwood/ An Tocher

This area was formally known as Leitrim, until a deed in 1713 changed it to Roundwood. Leitrim represents ‘liath-druim’. The Irish name ‘AnTogher’ refers to the building of a road across wet or boggy ground, in this case the piece of roadway connected the area of ‘Sraghmore’ with Roundwood.

Shillelagh/Siol Ealaigh

Entries in Wicklow genealogies show a tribe called ‘Sil Mella’ as descended from Eleth mac Faelcoen. It has been suggested that it was from the ‘Sil Mella’ that the name of the district that was called  ‘Schyrmal’ by the Anglo-Norman’s was derived, and this was in nearby north Co. Wexford.

It seems clear that from a fairly early period the Shillelagh district was occupied by a ‘Sept’ of some importance among the clan ‘Uí Cennselaigh’ and that it was this that Shillelagh derives its name, meaning the ‘descendants of Elathach’.


The name Talbotstown is derived from members of the family of Talbot’s, an Anglo-Norman family, who are traced back to the 13th century in west Co. Wicklow. The older name for the area was ‘Ballymacledy’, but it has been known as Talbotstown since the mid 16th century.

Tinahely/Tigh na hÉille

Pronounced ‘Tine-haley’ by the locals. The name of this village comes from ‘Tigh na hEille’ or house of the Ely, which was the name of the little river that runs through it up to the 19th century. (Now called the Derry River)


Anglicised from ‘tuaim a choirce’, which means ‘mound of the oats’.

Vallymount/An Chrois

The name Vallymount does not appear before the Ordinance Survey in 1839. ‘Cross’ of Ballymore is the older name, which means ‘cross-land’, that is land belonging to the church.

Wicklow/Chill Mhantáin

Chill Mhantain means the church or cell of Maintain, Maintain was taught to be a toothless man who turned to Christianity shortly after St. Patrick arrived in Ireland.

The name Wicklow is from Viking-lo, which means a low-lying swamp or meadow near water.


1799-Wooden Bridge (List of chains)

This small village got its name from the original wooden bridge that crosses the Avoca River.




N.B.  The Place-Names of Co. Wicklow by Liam Price is available at the County Wicklow Library.

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