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Navan, County Armagh


Ir. Eamhain Mhacha [au-in wagha]


2km W of Armagh city

par: Eglish bar: Armagh

Navan takes its name from the famous NAVAN FORT which stands in the middle of the townland and which was the ancient capital of Ulster. Traditionally Eamhain Mhacha has been interpreted as ‘Macha’s brooch or fibula’ the element eamhain going back to an original form eomhuin, literally ‘neck-pin’, and the name being explained by a legend that when the fort was being built the goddess Macha used the pin to draw a circle round herself to mark out its outline. Another traditional interpretation of Eamhain Mhacha is ‘the twins of Macha’. Here the story relates that Macha gave birth to the twins after outpacing king Conchobhar mac Neasa’s horses in a race, whereupon she died, but not before putting a curse on the men of Ulster that in their time of greatest need they would be afflicted by a great debility. The true meaning of Eamhain Mhacha is obscure. In early Celtic mythology Eamhain is used as a name for the otherworld and perhaps the most satisfactory explanation for its use to refer to Navan Fort is that the people believed that the fortress was built by their ancestor deities on the model of an otherworld city. The element Macha may represent the name of the goddess who features in the stories quoted above. However, Macha could also be regarded as the name of the district (see Armagh), the name of the land-goddess Macha (which signifies ‘pasture’) being used to refer to the general area. The anglicisation of the place-name as NAVAN is based on Ir. An Eamhain, a later form of the name which includes the definite article [(bellum) Emnae Machae 759].


McKay, P. (2007): A Dictionary of Ulster Place-Names, p. 115

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference
na hAirtheara uile..go riacht EamhainMacha [waste]0819AFM ii 430
~nnEmain Machae, i1000cTBDD $55 485
~a nAenach Macha/ for lár Aenaig Macha1021AU (Mac Airt) 456
Eamain imma ingenaib, Do buadaib ríg Ulad...1050cLebor na Cert 130 l.1957 (verse)
Geasa ríg Ulad Eamna/ 7 a land lánmeabra1050cLebor na Cert 130 l.1942 (verse)
~Dligid ríg Eamna acus Ulad..i muig Macha1050cLebor na Cert 92 l.1348
~discor Emna Mache1072Trip. Life (Stokes) 536 v.31
di Intidiu Emna .i. den maiche na hEmna1100cComp. CC T.Em $17
~Duma na nGiall i nEmain1100cTBC (Rec. I) l.3427
~Emna, na Trí Find1100cSerg. CC $24 ll.258-9
~co hEmain1100cSerg. CC $48
~curathmír Emna Macha1100cLU l.8038
~dar Óenach nEmna1100cSerg. CC $32
~do Emain Machi1100cTBC (Rec. I) l.377
~do Ráith Emnae (verse)1100cLU l.11059
~dorsid Emnae Mache1100cLU l.10145
~dorus nEmna1100cTBC (Rec. I) l.436
~hEmain, a1100cSerg. CC $29 l.379
~i mmaig in chluche fri hEmain aniar1100cTBC (Rec. I) l.472
~i nEmain Macha1100cSerg. CC $23
~in lind oc Emain1100cTBC (Rec. I) l.745
~nEmain, i1100cSerg. CC $24 l.255
~oenach la hUltu i nEmain Macha1100cLU l.8075 Cráebrúadi i nEmain Macha1100cLU l.8045
~co hAenach Macha 7 co hEmhuin1103AU (Mac Airt) 540
~Caindech mac Luighticch.. Emhna1125cCSH 662.198
~flaith Emna Macha1125cCGH 135b 7
~for bruinnib Emna Mache1125cCGH 158 12
~muinter Chonchobuir i nEmain1125cCGH 158 30
~ro scar flaith nUlad fri Emain1125cCGH 162a 51
~Emain1160TBC (LL) 206, 756, 828
~for Sídbrug na hEmna1160LL iv 815 l.24226
~hEmain Macha, cu1160Mesca Ulad 41, 54
~hEmna Macha, na1160TBC (LL) 2880
~hEmna, ar faithchi na1160Mesca Ulad 56
~Cimbaeth cleithe n-óc nEmna (verse)1160cLL i 82 l.2626
~Emain Macha1160cTBC (LL) 2167,2186
~Emna, na1160cTBC (LL) 751, 769
~a Ultu ána Emna1160cLL 21a/ i l.2635
~co forodmag na hEmna1160cTBC (LL) l.1138+
~dar faidchi na hEmna1160cAid. Chon. 4 $3
~hEmna, na1160cTBC (LL) 767, 791, 11157
~i nEmain Macha1160cAid. Chon. 4 $1
~ind aband ..i nEmain, Kalland1160cTBC (LL) l.1138
~nEmain Macha, i1160cMesca Ulad 30
~otá Emuin Macha1160cLL ii l.13392
~ro-Emain1160cLL 129a
~Cath Aenaig Macha1200cDescendants Ir xiii 318
~Conid de sin atá Emain Macha1200cComp. CC 35 $30
~Eamain (verse)1200cDescendants Ir xiii 320
~[for] faicthi na hEmna1200cLU l.10487
~conid din emain sin asberar Emain di1200cComp. CC 33 $29 (T. Emire)
~eó muin .i. eó imma muin Machae1200cComp. CC 35 $30 (T. Emire)
~Brian Eamhna ardMhacha1241cPoems Giolla Brighde 36 $24
~Emain Macha, do1250cAided MME $6 91
~Cú Uladh Eamhna1260cPoems Giolla Brighde 156 $69
~Rígh Oirthir Eamhna Macha1273Poems Giolla Brighde 172 $14
~go hEamhuin Oirghiall1273Poems Giolla Brighde 174 $15
~go ráith Eamhna1273Poems Giolla Brighde 174 $21
~in aonach Eamhna1273Poems Giolla Brighde 176 $22
~Emain gan Ulltach1280cCMR II 218
~a bhile Emhna1280cCMR II 214
~sluag Emhna, airecht Uladh1280cCMR II 212
o Eomoin Machi tar Sliauh Fuaid 7 tar Teme Muiri12thcScél Baile 221
~a nAraind...adberar Eamain Ablach12thcCeltica xvi+ 10 $7
~co Heamain móir mínédrocht12thcCeltica xvi+ 9 $2
Araide i nEmain1350cGeneal. Tracts 113 $9
~Eamhain, o1372cTopog. Poems 415
Hewynnae1374Reg. Sweteman 8
~hEamhuin Macha, go1400cComp. CC 72 $1
~hEmhoin, go1400cComp. CC 76 $7
Easamhain Eamna .i. a nEamhain Mhacha rohoiled15thcCóir Anmann $101
Oweyn Maugh (mound & castle)1600Bartlett Map (BM)
Owenmagh1602Bartlett Maps (Esch. Co. Maps) 1
Owenmagh (mound & tent)1602Bartlett Maps (Esch. Co. Maps) 2
B:n[c?]hawna1609Esch. Co. Map 5.30
Cawyn1609Church Lands Arm. 82
Eawyn1609Church Lands Arm. i 82(H)
Eawyn1609CPR Jas I 374b
Owen Maugh (mound & castle)1610Speed's Ulster
2 sessioes called Nowan1615Rent Roll Arm. (PRONI) 11
Ballinehawna1615CPR Jas I 273b
Ballynehawna1620CPR Jas I 478a
~Eamhain Macha, Aileach Néid a ríoghphoirt1630cCéitinn i 118
(?)Ballynehawna1633Inq. Ult. (Armagh) $20 Car. I [patent]
: Landereagh, Cloghanneegurra & Cloghanneesceyliag1633Inq. Ult. (Armagh) $20 Car. I
Ballyneehawna1633Inq. Ult. (Armagh) $20 Car. I [office]
Dangen, Ballynehawna1633Inq. Ult. (Down) $20 Car I [patent]
Eawin1633Inq. Ult. (Armagh) $20 Car. I [office]
the Nawan 2 sessioghs, conteyneing:1633Inq. Ult. (Armagh) $20 Car. I
~Cath Macha fri Mothaine (fri hUlltaibh)1650Geneal. Tracts 63 $101
Navoyn1657Inq. Arm. (Paterson) 218
Navan1657cHib. Reg. Ardmagh
Nauin1659cCensus 1659 26
Navan1661BSD 26
Navan1664HMR Murray (1941) 144
Navan1672cHib. Del. Ardmagh
~An sluagh sidhe so i nEamhain1680cLCABuidhe 94
~Cuingidh Eamhna1680cLCABuidhe 232
~Eamhain1680cLCABuidhe 75
~Go hEamhain1680cLCABuidhe 93
~Sidheamhuin1680cLCABuidhe 96
~a hEamhain1680cLCABuidhe 33
~obair Emhna1680cLCABuidhe 241
~plannda a hEamhoin1680cLCABuidhe 174
~rí i nEamhain1680cLCABuidhe 113
~ríghe fhóid Eamhna1680cLCABuidhe 63
~ós Eamhain1680cLCABuidhe 28
gach aird don taobh Thuaidheamhain1690cLCABuidhe 143 xviii l.130
co Concubar co hEamain16thcCath Aen. Macha 152 $5
co Suig Eamain co Comar-linn co Sliabh Fuait16thcCath Aen. Macha 150 $5
tar sith-brug na Eamna [cf ImDT $5]16thcSMMD I 6 $3
~Carraic na Cenn i nAenac Eamna16thcCath Aen. Macha $8
~Dun Eamna (verse)16thcCath Aen. Macha $6
~a n-aenach Macha16thcCath Aen. Macha $7
~aenach na hEamna16thcCath Aen. Macha $6
~in Eamhain1769Mac Cumhaigh (b) 117 l.34
~ar Eamhain1771cMac Cumhaigh (b) 129 l.64
Navan Fort1777Taylor & Skinner 266
Loughnashade1830cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) A51 (142) 52
Navan1830cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) A51 (199) 49
Navan1830cMap Armagh (OSNB) A51 (199) 49
Navan1835J O'D (OSNB) A51 (199) 49
~An Eamhain i.e. ""the double fort""1835OSNB: gen. sources A51 (199) 49
~Loch na Séad ""lake of jewels""1835OSNB: gen. sources A51 (142) 52
~Emain (nó Mag) Macha1933Comp. CC 33 $30 (interpolat.)
~Emuin1933Comp. CC 3 $1 et pas. (CCC)
~conid din Macha sin ráiter Mag Macha1933Comp. CC 33 $29 (T. Emire)
~hEmain, co1933Comp. CC 80 $12 (OCC)
~hEmna, ar faithchi na1933Comp. CC 80 $12 (OCC)
~machaire na hEamna, ar fud Muighi Macha &1933Comp. CC 93 $25 (OCC)
~mag na hEmhna1933Comp. CC 114 $44 (OCC)
~Emain1976TBC (Rec. I) l.411 et pas.
~hEmain Macha, co1976TBC (Rec. I) ll.522-3
~nEmna, timchell1976TBC (Rec. I) l.658
Emain Macha "" Emain of open country""1999Cel. Ulst. Tds 22
~An Eamhain1999Dict. Ulst. PN 115
~Eamhain Mhacha1999Dict. Ulst. PN 115
An Eamhain ""the neck-brooch / twins or /place by w2004NIPNP replies KMtoArmTur
Rath Ciombaoith ind Eamhain (=Rath Glaise Cuilg)3529AFM i 36
~i ccath Aonaigh Macha3579AFM i 38
~a nEmain Macha, Eamuin Macha4334=Stokes, W. 1895,96,97 ii 30
ro claidhset Ráth Eamhna.. priomhchathair Uladh4532AFM i 72
Raith Eamhna do claidhe,.. priomhchathair Uladh4546AFM i 74
~Bellum Emnae Machae759AU (Mac Airt) 212
~Emain Macha,co800cSMMD I $20 10
~Emna, (Dubthach)800cSMMD I $21 12
~is cian doréract Emain800cTrip. Life (Stokes) 408 v.22
~Emhain Machae, Vastatio na nAirthear co rice821AU (Mac Airt) 276
~Borg Emna ro tetha830cFél. Óeng. Prol. 193
~Emnae ildelbach fri rian850cIB $19
~croíb dind abaill a hEmain850cIB $4
uair for Emain echtraife [""he shall march""]8thcLebor na Cert TimnaCM 166
(?)donMachai.. comagin hitá Ráith Dare indiu [P&D900cTrip. Life (Stokes) i 228
~In chros deiscertach ind Oenach Machai900cTrip. Life (Stokes) 238
~ind Oenach Machai900cTrip. Life (Stokes) i 238
~nEmuin Macha, i900cComp. CC 6 $7
~ar brú na hEmna960cAid. Uais. Érenn 308 $17
~i ndeisciurt Oenaig Macha960cAid. Uais. Érenn 308 $15
~Araide i nEmainBBGeneal. Tracts 113 $9
Cath Macha / MochdaineLecL. Gabála (Macalister) v 312 $593a
Conchobar coem-ainich /clothrig cloth-EmnaeLecBattle of Airtech 172 $2
am dithracht am dimain /d''eis sarglond sar EmnaeLecBattle of Airtech 172 $2
~na trí hIllaind EamnaLecGeneal. Tracts 134 $4
~fria Haruinn ad-berthaoi Emhain AbhlachNLIG1Celtica xvi+ 28 (T. Luaine)
for Sídbrug na hEmnaO.Ir.Imm. Dá T. $5
~a hEamainYBLST Temra $25
Parish in 1851
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