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Ardbrin, County Down


Ir. Ard Brain ‘Bran’s height’


Ardbrin is the largest townland in the parish of Annaclone, measuring 1008 acres and containing a graveyard which marks the site of the ancient parish church. Between 1633 and 1672 Lissardbrin and similar forms appear and the lios was probably the still-conspicuous Logan’s Forth on a southern spur of the Blue Hill.  There is no evidence for a syllable between Ard- and -brin, and O’Donovan translated the name simply as ‘Bran’s hill or height’ (OSNB).  Bran, an old word meaning ‘raven’, was more commonly used in Irish as a personal name.  In 1834 Ardbrin contained the residence of O’Donovan’s Irish-speaking informant Mrs Con Magennis (OSL Dn 63), probably the large farmhouse of Connie Magennis and siblings, now derelict at Skateridge in the townland. However local people in the 1830s understood Ardbrin as ‘called from a family of name Byrne long resident in it’ (OSNB).  Byrne is an anglicization of the surname Ó Broin, of Leinster origin but subsequently widespread (MacLysaght 1957, 68-9), which was well-known in the area.  In 1444 John O’Brynd was rector of Magheradrool (Swanzy’s Dromore), in 1619 there was Edmond O’Brine in Co Down (CPR Jas I 413b).  A name spelt MacBrin or MacBrien was also known in Co. Down and was also further anglicized as Burns or Byrne (Bell 1988, 26).  The surname with either mac or ó seems to have been used by the same family, who had a long connection with the church in Co. Down.  In 1427 they provided the erenagh of church lands in Lenadergin Tullylish parish (Reg. Swayne 73), and many had become churchmen in the 15th and 16th centuries.  In 1609 members of the family held the church townlands of Ballintaggart in Aghaderg, and Tulliorior in Garvaghy adjoining this parish.  The name Ardbrin could have begun as Ard Uí BhroinÓ Broin’s or ‘Byrne’s height’, with loss of the middle syllable, but more likely local people understood it as this because of their familiarity with the surname.


Muhr, K. (1996): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. 6 p. 63

Additional Information

Contains part of the village of Annaclone

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference

(?) Ballyilanbegg + Balleaghan

1635Inq. Ult. (Down) $62 Car. I

Ard Broinn "Altitudo Branni"

1834OSL 1909 edn xxi 63

Ard Brain "the heights of Byrne"

1834cJ O'D (OSNB) E18.172

Ard Broin "Bran's hill or height"

1834cJ O'D (OSNB) E18.172

"Bran is a raven, and it was formerly a favourite name for men."

1913Joyce ii 158

Ardbrin "Bran's height or Byrne's height"

1913Joyce iii 41
Ardbrin1609CPR Jas I 395a
Arbrin Ardbrin1611CPR Jas I 191a
Ardbrin1611CPR Jas I 191a
Ballylissardbryn1633Inq. Ult. (Down) $39 Car. I
Lipardbrenn1657cHib. Reg. Up. Iveagh
Lisard brin1659cCensus 1659 75
Lissardbrin1661BSD 117
Lippardbren1672cHib. Del. Down
Ardburin1806Tombstone (OSNB) E18.172
Ballyardbrin1810Wm. Map (OSNB) E18.172
Ardbrin1811Tombstone (OSNB) E18.172
Ardbrin sometimes Ballyardbrin1834OSM xii 16a
Church Bog in Ardbrin1834OSM xii 14a,16b
Ard Brain1992PNI 63
Iveagh Up., Up. Half
Parish in 1851
Place name ID
Place name type