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Dromore, County Down


Ir. Droim Mór 'big ridge'


Town is 10.5km NE of Banbridge

bar: Iveagh Lower, Lower Half

Dromore is the name of an early monastery, a parish, a diocese corresponding to the baronies of Iveagh, and the town around the cathedral church. 

Although the name Droim Mór 'big ridge' is used earliest to refer to St Colman's monastery, the church site and the town which has grown up around it are in a hollow between the hills.  However, Harris in 1744 was happy to explain the name of the town as "'the great back of a hill', being a cluster of houses spread on the side of a hill" (Harris' Hist. 98).  There is a ridge to the north of the town and another, Barban Hill, to the south (1:10,000 sheet 202).  There is a rath in the north-west of the town on Maypole Hill, just above the cathedral, and between it and the main Belfast-Dublin road.  The next earliest site, the Anglo-Norman motte, is on a spur close to the north bank of the river Lagan (ASCD 203).  Only the top has been excavated, but if the motte has been built on a native foundation this could also be the droim of the name. 

Muhr (PNI vi 108) considers it unlikely that the form Druim Moccu Echach from Muirchú's Life of St Patrick, could refer to Dromore in Iveagh, as suggested by Bieler (Muirchú (Bieler), index 257).  Druim Moccu Echach "ridge of the descendants of Echu" is described as "a wild place high up in the hills" where St Patrick found Mac Cuill of the Grecraige who became Bishop Maughold of the Isle of Man.  Since it is located among the Ulaid, which at this date would mean Dál Fiatach, she proposed that name refers to Uí Echach of the Ards.  However, this is topographically less suited to the description, since, with the exception of an isolated hill near Portaferry, there is no place on the Ards Peninsula which exceeds the altitude of 50m.  Whilst the hills in the immediate vicinity of Dromore town reach around 140m, perhaps the location of Druim Moccu Echach would be better sought in the wilder hill country of Slieve Croob to the south.

The abbot of Colmán's monastery of Dromore is sometimes referred to by the name of the founding saint rather than the place (AFM ii 756, AD1006; AFM ii 842, AD 1043).  The references from the Newry charter (c.1157) with the Irish forms Dromamoyr, Dromamoir clearly shows the Irish genitive inflection; however, in the late Fragmentary Annals, the name is uninflected even in an Irish text (princeps (ab) Drommór, §450, s.a. ?913).

As a land unit the name Dromore is linked with Ballenegalga, now the townland of Ballymaganlis.  There is no townland named Dromore in the parish.

The present Church of Ireland cathedral in the town marks the site of an early monastery founded by St Colman and also the site of a medieval cathedral dedicated to that saint. There is also a 10th- or 11th-century high cross and an earlier cross-inscribed stone ‘pillow’ associated with St Colman [(Moc[h]olmóc) Dromma móir c.830].


McKay, P. (2007): A Dictionary of Ulster Place-Names, p. 60; Muhr, K (1996): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. 6 pp. 104-8; revised PT 2013.

Additional Information

T., 1851 Census

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference

(?) hin Druim moccu Echach

0700cMuirchú ii 286

Moc[h]olmóc Dromma móir

0830cMart. Tal. 48 June 7

feil Choluimb...maccu Artai

0830cFél. Óeng. 139 June 7th

abb Droma móir lá hUibh Eachdach

0841AFM i 462

abbas Droma Moer la hU Echach

0842AU (Mac Airt) 300

Corbmac, abb Droma móire

0903AFM ii 564

Cormac ancorita, princeps Droma Moir

0908AU (Mac Airt) 356

Maelmaedhocc, abb Droma móir, dég

0909AFM ii 580

Maolmoedhoc princeps (ab) Drommór

0909c [AFM s.a. 909; ?913 in FrA] Fragment. Ann. 178 $450

espoc 7 abb Droma móir Mocholmócc

0972AFM ii 696

airchinneach Droma Moir Mocholmócc

1006AFM ii 756

Mac an Bheccánaigh comharba Mocholmócc 7 Comhghaill

1068AFM ii 894-5

Riagan epscop Dromo moir & coicidh Uladh

1101AU (Mac Airt) 536-7

Colman Dromma Moir

1125cCGH 141 $707.132

Mocholmoc Dromma Moir (Dál nAraide)

1125cCGH 16 $99

Mac an Bheacanaigh airchindech Dromamoir

1143AFM ii 1070

Angen herennanus Dromamoyr

1157cNewry Char. (Flanagan) 3


1157cNewry Char. (Mon. Ang.) 1134

Dromamoyr, Angen herennanus

1157cNewry Char. (Flanagan) 3

mo Cholmoc (Dhromma Móir, Columbanus espoc mac ú A

1170cMart. Gorm. 112(n) Jun 7

Drummor et Maincoue (castles)

1211cPipe Roll John 60

Drummor, patriam de Drummor

1211cPipe Roll John 60

decano et capitulo Drumerensibus

1245Pontif. Hib. ii 101 $259

eccles. S Colmani de Drumore

1309EA 311

Colman Droma moir hi Cuib

1397cL. Lec. 125v b9

procurationes Dromorensis; eccl. Dromor.

1422Reg. Dowdall $129 275

Mo Cholmóc Droma Moir ind hUaib Echach Ulad

1453Fél. Óeng. 144nL (June 7)


1480Annates Ulst. 290

(?) a nDruim-mor (2 O'Neills hanged) [no place ALCé,  Conn

1528AU iii 570-572n

Drommor sedes Episc./ fort Drommor

1600cBartlett Map (BM)

maneria de Dromore

1601cEA 309 King''s Bks

terr. de Dromore xiv vill. terr.

1601cEA 309 King''s Bks

Dromoore Sedes Episc.

1603Bartlett Maps (Esch. Co. Maps) 2

Droomore sedes Episc.

1603Bartlett Maps (Esch. Co. Maps) 1 Drumore

1609Jas I to Dromore Cath. 104n 314


1610Speed's Ulster

Droim Mór "large ridge"

2002Culture NI PNN PMcK/JP
Drummor (castle larder)1211cPipe Roll John 60
Drunmor (castle repairs)1211cPipe Roll John 56
Dromore, the church of1306cEccles. Tax. (CDI) 211
Dromore1368Reg. Sweteman 50 $221
bishopric, diocese of Dromore1407Reg. Fleming $34
Dromore (clerics of)1426Reg. Swayne 45
diocese/ cathedral cleric of Dromore1526Reg. Cromer 342 $47
primate custos of diocese of Dromore1526Reg. Cromer ii 342 $46
Drommore1580cSE Ulster Map
Drommore1580cUlster Map 1580c
Dromore1595Mercator's Ulst.
Dromore (Kilwarney, on river to L. Coyn, not Lagan1595Mercator's Ulst.
chief parcels of Dromore al. Ballymagalge1609CPR Jas I 395b
lands of Dromore al. Ballengalgae1611CPR Jas I 190b
the aforesaid lands of Dromore al. Ballenegalga1611CPR Jas I 190b
Dromore (+ 13 tds)1622Buckworth (EA) 310
tenement(s) in Dromore x81622Buckworth (Atkinson) 128-9
>ó Dhruim mór mo-Colmóc i n-Uibh Eachach Uladh1630cMart. Gorm. 112 June 7 n.
~Droma móir, Colman, epscop1630cMart. Don. June 7 p148
~o Dhruim Mocholmocc [.i. Druim mór]1630cMart. Don. June 7 p148
Colmanus Drumorensis Episcopus1643+Acta SS (Bolland.) 304 (Jun. 7)
Droim Mór +bh Eathach1645cCín Lae Ó M. 28-9 lch 24
Dromore1657Inq. Down (Reeves1) 89
Drummore1657cHib. Reg. Lr. Iveagh
Drummore (parish)1659cCensus 1659 78
Drummore towne (pop. 178)1659cCensus 1659 79
Dromoore Parish (5 times)1661BSD 67-71
Rector de Dromore1661Trien. Visit. (Bramhall) 15
Drumore1663Sub. Roll Down 274
Dromore1664Trien. Visit. (Margetson) 26
Mocholmog Droma Móir1666cTCD Gens 147a $280
Dromore1679Trien. Visit. (Boyle) 48
Dromore Rectoria1679Trien. Visit. (Boyle) 46
Dromore1692Rent Roll Down 5
Drommore, a poor market-town1760UJA 3 48 1985 114
""a high narrow ridge of hills""1834cJ O'D (OSNB) E125
~Druim Mór1834cJ O'D (OSNB) E125
~Droim Mór/Dromore1988Éire Thuaidh
~Droim Mór1989GÉ 94
Droim Mór1992PNI 106
Droim Mór "" big ridge""1999Cel. Ulst. Tds 13
~Droim Mór ""large ridge""1999Dict. Ulst. PN 60
Iveagh Lr., Lr. Half
Parish in 1851
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