Celebrating Ulster's Townlands
|5. Peoples of Ulster|
comes from the tribal name Ulaidh
plus, it is thought, the English or Viking possessive –s and the Irish word tír
“land”, meaning “land of the Ulster people” (Sommerfelt 1958). This name must have
been used by the Normans, because Gaelic speakers continued to call the
Uladh “Fifth (i.e. province) of the Ulster people”.
The Mourne mountains, Co. Down: Kieran Clendinning
|The people of ancient Ulster were not all the same. Tradition lists
three main groups in Ireland, often named as the Érainn,
the Cruthin and the Gaels. The
Érainn have given their name to the island, Éire
in Irish while the English language has made it Ire-land. The Romans seem to have got the earlier form Iwerio confused with their word for winter, hiber, and thus called the island Hibernia.
In early historic times we know that the people of mid-Down and the
Glens of Antrim were Érainn. So were many of the people of Munster, and
several legends explain the links.
Map showing Ulster and the "Irish Sea Province": the colours are not political but from the Geological Map of the British Islands, 1912.
second major group, called Cruthin,
bore a Gaelic version of the name Briton, and they may have come to
Ireland from Britain. In Ulster they once held the north and east, from Duncrun
“fort of the Cruthin” near the north coast below Benevenagh to
the Crown Mound
Áth Cruthean “ford of the Cruthin” by the river north of Newry
and the Mournes. The group
called the Manaigh found in
the county name Fer-managh
and the Belfast name Taughmonagh
(“men” and “people” of the Manaigh)
are also likely to be connected to the tribe called Menapii
Binevenagh from the Bishop's Road, Co. Derry: NITB
is less easy to define the Gaels, since in historic times all the Irish
population used the Gaelic language. When people from the Glens of
Antrim founded a new colony in the west of Scotland they named the area
Argyll, Oirear Gaidheal, the
“coastland of the Gael”. The Gaelic name for Scotland was Alba,
and a Scotsman was an Albanach. The
townlands called Carnalbanagh
“Cairn of the Scotsmen” in Counties Antrim and Down are probably too
early for the other meaning “Presbyterian” attached to the word Albanach in modern Donegal. A famous confusion in the early history
is that an early Latin name for the Irish, the Scotti, migrated with the people and gave Scot-land its modern name.
Binaughlin, Co. Fermanagh: Eddie McGovern
language history of Scotland is more complicated than Ireland, since it
was multilingual from an early period. Welsh, Gaelic and Anglo-Saxon
(the ancestor of English and Scots) were spoken in the south of Scotland
long before the Normans brought English and French to Gaelic Ireland.
Viking colonists settled in Galloway from the Hebrides and the Isle of
Man, so that it became known as Gallghaoidhealaibh
“place of the foreign Gaels”.
Spray on the Giant's Causeway, Co. Antrim: KM