Placenamesni.orgthe history behind our place-names

Bleary, County Down

Origin

perhaps Ir. Bladhraigh [bleree] ‘(place of the) portion’.

Background

4km S of Lurgan

par: Tullylish bar: Iveagh Lower, Upper Half

Bleary, like Ballydugan, appears in 1611 as the name of a subdivision (hamlet) of a townland in Clanconnell (CPR Jas I 193a) and later takes over from the original townland name.  In this source it is called Blyery, the earliest anglicized spelling which clearly refers to this location, but from the late 17th century the spelling Bleery or Bleary becomes standard.  Pronunciations collected in the 19th century such as Blary (OSNB Pron. E61), and Blairey in 1936 (Mooney 334) indicate -e- not -ee- as the earlier vowel sound of the first syllable here.  Myles’ anonymous pamphlet on the history of Tullylish first suggested the population name Bladraige, one of the scattered aithechthuatha or ‘subject tribes’. References to the tribe put them on the north-east coast of Co. Antrim: ‘Bladraige in the territory of Dál Riada descend from Bladchú of the Britons of Man’ (c.1397).  However the name may also be connected with the character called Blai Briugad ‘Blai the hospitaller’ in the Ulster cycle tales.  He kept a bruiden or house of hospitality somewhere in Ulster (SMMD I §1n, CMR II 52), but the only time his dwelling is located it is at Tara at the tip of the Ards peninsula (Mesca Ulad l. 714; PNI ii 131-2).  Séamas Ó Ceallaigh noted that there was a tribe in Co. Derry called Tuath Rois Blai and a mountain Blaishliabh, possibly connected with Bladraige or Blai Briugad, and that Dál Riada may have once extended further to the west over the Bann (GUH 42n).  A fort called Carraig Bladraide appears in three lists of the buildings erected in Ireland in the time of the legendary invader Éremón, said to be ‘in the north-east of Ireland’ or at Murbolg on the north coast (L. Gabála v 166 §483, 170 §487).  O’Donovan in discussing the fort of Carraig Bladraide said the only similar modern place-name was Blyry in Westmeath (AFM i 28), and Hogan accepted Blyry as its location (s.v. Blarach).  In the OS Field Name Book, however, Blyry was given the Gaelic form Bladhraidh and translated as ‘flowery land’ (Walsh 1957, 112).  The only historical form calls Blyry ‘half a cartron called the Bloyery’ and Bleary in Tullylish is occasionally called The Bleary.  Since Bleary too was originally a subdivision name, the Irish form could be from blogh fem. variant bladh ‘portion’ (DIL, Dinneen) with suffix -raigh, i.e. ‘portion place’.

References

Muhr, K. (1996): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. 6 p. 333; McKay, P. (2007) A Dictionary of Ulster Place-Names, p.26;

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference

(?) Carracc Blaraighe

-1699 B.C. [3501 A.M.]AFM i 26-8

(?) Bladraige (Aithechthuatha)

14thcGeneal. Tracts Ba $1 107 (BB)

Ballytullyconely, with the hamlets of  Longert and Blyery (in Clanconnell precinct/lordship)

1611CPR Jas I 193a

Bla Righ "field of the king"

1834cJ O'D (OSNB) E61

Bléire "a blaze''

1950cMooney 1950c 333

Bléithrach "corn-land''

1950cMooney 1950c 333

Bleodhrach "clamorous, noisy place''

1950cMooney 1950c 333

Bladhraigh

1992PNI 333

Bladhraigh "(place of the) portion"

1999Dict. Ulst. PN 26

(?) Bladraidi la Dal Riada (LLec.)

LLecGeneal. Tracts C $99, 158
Balletallewnelly Lougert Bleire1627Inq. Ult. (Down) $9 Car. I
td of Bleery1655cCiv. Surv. x $73
half tn of Bleary1657cHib. Reg. Lr. Iveagh
B:Lerry1659cCensus 1659 79
1/2 Bleary1661BSD 80
Bleary 1/2 Towne of1661BSD 79
Bleary (half & qr)1666ASE 61 b 39
Bleary1672cHib. Del. Down
>Gortgeney & Corhillis al. Longford1691Atkinson's Donaghcloney 132
>sess Blearey al Taliconely &>1691Atkinson's Donaghcloney 132
half ye tn Bleary1691Atkinson's Donaghcloney 132
td Blearey al. Bally Tully Conell 3 sess>1691Atkinson's Donaghcloney 132
Qr Towne of Bleary, Bleary, half Bleary1692Rent Roll Down 5
Bleerey1711Ir. Wills Index 78
Bleary1716Deeds & Wills (Mooney) 333
Bleery1755Map of Down (OSNB) E61
Blearby, Bleary17thcPar. Map (Mooney) 333
Dean''s Turn (road) at Bleary Cross1800cAtkinson's Donaghcloney 63
Bleary1810Wm. Map (OSNB) E61
[''Blea-ry (Blary / Blayry)]1834cOSNB Pron. E61
prons by old people Blairey [ex Pyles p. 2]1950cMooney 1950c 334
Barony
Iveagh Lr., Up. Half
Parish
Tullylish
Parish in 1851
Tullylish
Townland
None
Place name ID
11303
Place name type
T