Many place names in Ireland are derived from the Irish names for trees and woods. Below is a list of Irish root words referring to trees and woods that can be found in place names throughout the country either as towns, villages or townlands. These were extracted from “A Pocket Guide to Irish Place Names” by P.W. Joyce, published by Appletree Press, 1984. Originally published in 1870 under the title “Irish Local Names Explained”.
IRISH ROOT WORDS
(Pronunciation is given in brackets, as nearly as can be represented by English letters. The principal modern forms are given in italics.)
Abhall ( owl, ool or avel), an apple, an apple tree. Modern forms owl, ool, owle, aval etc.
Beith (beh), the birch tree; beitheach (behagh) a birchy place: behy, beha, beagh, behagh, veha, behy, etc
Bile (billa), a large ancient tree; a tree held in veneration for any reason; billa, billy, villa, ville, villy, bella, vella.
Coill, a wood; kil, kyle, cuill, cuilla.
Coll, the hazel; coll, col, cole, cull,cul, coyle, kyle, quill.
Craebh (crave), a branch, a large branchy tree; creeva, crew, creevy, nagreeve.
Crann, a tree; crann, cran, crin, nagran.
Cuillionn (cullion), holly; cullion, cullen.
Dair (dar), an oak; dar,der, dara, darra, darraigh.
Dairbhre (darrery), an oak forest, a place producing oaks; darrery, dorrery, darraragh, derravara
Daire or doire (derry), an oak grove or wood; derry, derri, der.
Dearmhagh (darwah), oak-plain; durrow, durra, derra.
Draeighean (dreean), blackthorn; dreen, drain, drin.
Eo (o), a yew tree; o, oe, yo.
Eochaill (oghill), a yew wood; oghill, aughal, youghal.
Fearn, fearnog ( farn, farnoge), the alder tree; farn, fern, farnagh, ferney, farnane, farnoge, navarn, navern, navarna.
Fidh (fih), a wood; fee, fi, feigh, feth, fith, fid.
Fuinnse, fuinnseann, fuinseog (funsha, funshan, funshoge), the ash tree; funcheon, funshin, funshinagh, funchoge. The f is omitted in the north, giving rise to such forms as unshin, unshinagh, inshinagh, unshog, hinchoge.
Iubhar (yure), a yew tree; ure.
Leamh, leamhan (lav, lavaun), the elm tree; levan, levane, livaun, laune, lamph.
Leamhchoill (lavwhill), an elm wood; laughil, laghil, laghile, loghill, lamfield, longfield.
Mothar (moher), in the north, a cluster of trees; in the south, the ruin of a fort, or any building; moher.
Omna, an oak; omna, umna.
Ros, generally means a wood in the south, and a peninsula in the north; ross, rus, rush.
Sceach (skagh), a whitethorn bush; skeagh, skehy, skey, ske, skeha, skew.
Tromm, the elder or boor-tree; trim, trom, trum.
Some well known places that are named after trees and woods:
Adare, (Ath-dara), the ford of the oak tree.
Ballaghaderreen, in Mayo: the road of the derreen or little oak wood.
Clonskeagh, (Cluain-sceach), the meadow of the whitethorns.
Derry, (Doire), an oak grove or wood.
Derrynane, (Doire-Fhionain) the oak grove of St. Finan Cam.
Durrow, (Dearmhagh) the field of the oaks.
Edenderry, the hill brow of the oak wood.
Glencullen, ( cuillion) holly glen
Kildare, (Cill-dara), the cell or church of the oak.
Kylemore, (Coill-mhor), great wood.
Lough Derravara, (Loch-Dairbhreach), lake of the oaks.
Moycullen, the plain of the oaks.
Newry, (ancient name Iubhar-cinn-tragha), the yew at the hard of the strand.
Portumna, (Port-omna), the landing place of the oak.
RossCarberey, (ancient name Ros-ailithir) the wood of the pilgrims.
Terenure, (Tir-iubhair), the land of the yews.
Youghal, (Eochaill) yew wood.
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