The story behind a placename

A WEST Limerick historian who has spent 10 years researching placenames of the area has compiled his findings in a fascinating new book.

Gerard Curtin's 'Every Field Had a Name' outlines the origins of over 1,300 minor place names across West Limerick, brought together from indepth research and over 100 local interviews. The Askeaton author ( above) says his interest in placenames goes back to his childhood, listening to his mother Eily, who was born and raised on a farm in Knockfinnisk, Athea.

"The stories she told of people and places were of farming, the names of places, travelling to school, the many characters in the district and funny happenings. Towards the end of my primary school education my interest in the subject was further enhanced when our fifth class were shown a six inch Ordnance Survey Map of Ballyhahill village by the Principal, Pádraig Ó Cathalláin," he explained. "Around this time too I began to take note of the many local names mentioned by my mother from her childhood and enquired why the passageway into her childhood home veered to the left for no clear reason. That section of field was known as Sheehy's haggard, and was told that a labouring family of that name had lived there at one time before being bought out and migrating towards Ballingarry."

Gerard explained that the idea to write the book first came to light in a pub Ballyhahill back in 1997during a chance conversation with some local farmers.

"Suddenly from those in my company the names of fields and minor placenames such as the Moanwee, Drominlemon and the Carrig fields began to bounce off the ceiling," he said. "Between 2000 and 2002 I found the time to write an extensive series of 25 essays on the placenames of the Catholic parishes and the genesis of this publication was formed."

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