‘Naming Places’ by Frank Miller, The Irish Times
(Dr Éamon Lankford ‘Naming Places on Cape Clear)
First prize, Photo of the Year Press Association of Ireland Awards, 2003

Archiving Placenames

A Collection of Placenames from Ardghort Townland in the
Civil Parish of Clear Island, Co. Cork

Presented below is a listing of 120 minor placenames collected by Éamon Lankford at Ardghort townland in the Civil Parish of Clear Island, Barony of Carbery West, East Division, Co. Cork in 1976. The survey of the sixteen Oileán Cléire / Cape Clear Island townlands returned 2200 placenames, the locations for which were for the first time recorded on Townland Maps. They are the names of places and features in the natural and cultural landscape of the island. The Cape Clear Place Name Survey and that of other West Cork islands and mainland coastal areas were conducted over the years from 1976 to 1995.

The West Cork Survey brought about the collection of some 18,000 placename references. An oral or documentary source or both was provided for each name, almost all of which had their locations marked on 6” Townland Maps. The success of this initiative led to the voluntary Cork Place Name Survey which in the years from 1995 to 2010 gathered names throughout every townland in Cork. The entire compilations for each county was deposited in 2009/10 in Cork County Library forming the Cork Place Name Archive.

Placename Collecting Methodology
The methodology for collecting and mapping the location of named places and features from oral and documented sources throughout Cork was first tried, tested and developed during twenty years of placename collecting initiatives by Éamon Lankford at Oileán Cléire / Cape Clear island and on other West Cork islands. The same methodology was from 1996 applied to all of Co. Cork during Suirbhé Logainmneacha Chorcaí / Cork Place Name Survey. Cork county placename survey was organised from a central office in Cork City.

Irish Placenames
Almost all names on the Ordnance Survey Maps of Ireland are derived from names once used in Irish only by communities throughout Ireland. Townland names today still form part of most people’s address. Names on road signs in Ireland are for the most part, derived from Irish language descriptions of places and features and of the life and times of Irish people in past ages.
All but a few of the 2200 placenames collected in Cape Clear had their location mapped for the first time. They were the names known and used only in Irish. They were therefore, in the 1970s-1990s a perfect example of Irish placenaming heritage.
Almost all names were taperecorded in interviews with islanders. The placenames of Ardghort Townland, Cape Clear Island were chosen by the compiler Éamon Lankford to be the template for demonstrating the methodology for collecting, mapping and archiving some of the placename heritage of the 9000 townlands of Co. Cork. The data collected and mapped in those initiatives form the only public County Place Name Archives in Ireland. [See the Home page of www.placenames.ie]

Gathering the names: Teams of Fieldworkers gathered names from Oral Sources throughout Co. Cork while a Research Team extracted references to the names given to places and features found in hundreds of Documented Sources held in state archives, libraries, Ordnance Survey of Ireland, Archaeological Survey, National Folklore Archive, UCD other sources. A full isting of all sources is given in the volumes for each parish.

A Separate Office Team co-ordinated and merged both oral and documented place name references into OS, 6” Townland and Parish Maps.

Layout of Data: The Official Townland Name in both Irish and English are recorded on the Townland Maps along with their variations listed in chronological order, together with a reference to their oral and documented sources, including GPS No.

Unique Name: Each name is given a unique number within its townland area. The number given corresponds to a specific location on the Townland Map, which is drawn to scale by a Team of cartographers. A full listing of all names collected is provided for each townland collection.

Recording: The name of the Supplier and Collector, derivation of the name, date when recorded and any local lore or history about each name is added to the collected data for each townland.

Creating Ireland’s First Public Placename Archive: The Townland collections are arranged alphabetically into Civil Parish Collections which in turn are arranged alphabetically into barony collections presented in 130 bound volumes forming the Cork Place Name Archive housed at Cork County Library. Having reached all its objectives the Survey Team brought its work to an orderly closure in 2009.