The place names of Ireland can trace their origins to a mixture of Gaelic, Viking and English roots. The Anglicization of Irish towns in particular has resulted in a certain amount of confusion regarding their pronunciation and spelling but amongst all the confusion, you have to wonder if the Irish people just got fed up of naming their towns sensibly and aimed for the funniest, rudest, or longest names that they could get away with.
Ireland will never beat the record for the longest name in the world which can be found in Bangkok Thailand at a place called (you might want to take a breath before attempting this!):
‘Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Wåitsanukam Prasit’. You could also just call it Krungthep as it’s more popularly known.
So, after you’ve gone blue in the face and picked yourself up off of the ground after passing out while attempting to pronounce all 167 letters of this name, lets look at a few Irish names that ‘attempt’ to rival it for length and breath.
Muckanaghederdauhaulia, Co. Galway, is often believed to be the longest town name in Ireland at 22 letters. A small village in the Connemara Gaeltacht area between Camus and Carraroe, it is also thought to be the longest name for a port in the world. The original Irish name for this place is Muiceanach idir Dhá Sháile – which literally means ‘pig-shaped hill between two seas’.
Newtownmountkennedy, Co. Wicklow, holds the record for the second longest town name in Ireland at 19 letters. Baile an Chinnéidigh is the Irish translation of the name and simply means ‘Kennedy’s Town’.
Sruffaunoughterluggatoora, Co. Galway, is a stream with a word that seems as long as the stream itself. The streams of Sruffaunmaumnavonsee and Sruffaungolinluggatavhin are also in the same area. Good luck to you if you’re looking for directions to them.
Other Irish place names that got the long winded approach include the headland of Gubpaudeenshaneneese (Gob Pháidín Sheáin Aonghais) in Mayo, a cove in Corkaguiny, Co. Kerry called Coosfohermarenabinia (Cuas Foithir Mhór na Binne), and finally, Ardloughnabrackbaddy (Ard Loch na mBreac Beadaí), part of the Derryveagh mountain range in Co. Donegal.
Over time, the town names of Ireland have become much less poetic and have settled for short if not sweeter names. From Penistone in England to the town of Maggie’s Nipples in Wyoming, US, it’s safe to say that the world has its fair share of rude names on their towns but Ireland has a few of its own to offer too:
Muff, Co. Donegal was thought to be a mispronunciation of the Irish word ‘Magh’ which means ‘plain’ though it seems like getting from ‘Magh’ to ‘Muff’ is a bit of a jump. It’s slightly ironic that the town boasts one of the oldest and most successful diving clubs in Ireland but the town obviously decided that when you’re stuck with a name like ‘Muff’, you need to take the most fun out of it that you possibly can.
Kilcock, Co. Kildare, one of many Irish places bearing the word ‘cock’ in its name, is about 40km from the Dublin suburb of Ballsbridge. There seems to be a theme in this area but the town of Kilcock actually took its name from the 6th century saint, Coca, who founded a church beside the River Rye. As for the town of Ballsbridge, it was innocently named after a bridge built in the area by a Mr. Ball.
Nobber, Co. Meath is thought to derive its name from the Irish word for work ‘an obair’. It seems logical, if a bit unfortunate! It could have been worse, there is a place in Tyrone called Strangalowilly. It looks like more than one location in Ireland might have been named by angry women.
Moving to Ireland
After living in Ireland for almost one year, this is what I’ve learned