The Gaelic Placenames of Belfast

This new booklet, published by Belfast City Council, traces the meanings of place names in Belfast and around from ancient times to the 17th century, when townlands were created.Published in partnership with the Ultach Trust, it promotes the Gaelic origin of many of Belfast’s place names.It demonstrates how Gaelic place names of Belfast and the surrounding area provide a direct link to the oldest strata of the city’s history, shedding light on its past, before the small village was granted to Arthur Chichester in 1603, leading to the start of the development of the city we know today.


The names speak of pagan, Cruthin and Ulaid traditions, as well as the Christian influences of the Dark Ages and medieval times, and also evoke the physical features of the landscape, its hills, rivers and loughs – showing how much that landscape has changed since.

As well as exploring the conflicting origins of ancient names for the likes of Belfast Lough and the Lagan, it also traces the meanings of the names for the Blackstaff River and Cave Hill as well as places and areas such as Stranmillis (An Sruthán Milis), Taughmonagh (Tuath Monach), and Knock (An Cnoe).

Councillor Máire Hendron, Chair of Belfast City Council’s Good Relations Partnership said: “I think this booklet will provide us with a great insight into the origins of the areas where we live. It traces some of the names back to the region’s earliest inhabitants.”

The Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson, in launching the booklet, spoke of the strong influence of Presbyterians in the preservation of the language and its central postion in the heritage of all the people of Ulster..a great man in the making indeed. 

This entry was posted in Article. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.