Placenamesni.orgthe history behind our place-names

Greengraves, County Down

Origin

Eng. green + graves; earlier Ir. Baile Chloch Tógála, ‘townland of (the) dolmen’

Background

Historical spellings such as Ballyycloghtogall als. Greengraves (1675) indicate that the original Irish name of this townland was Baile Chloch Tógála, ‘townland of (the) dolmen’. Cloch tógála literally means ‘building stone’; however, Dinneen (s.v. tógáil) defines it as ‘dolmen’.  Joyce (i 342) refers to the use of cloch tógála in place-names, which appears to be confined to Ulster.  He cites three townlands which derive from cloch t(h)ógála: Cloghogle, in the parish of Donaghedy, Co. Tyrone; another Cloghogle in the parish of Ardstraw, Co. Tyrone; and Cloghtogle in the parish of Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh.  The Hiberno-English word ‘cloghogle’ also means dolmen and it appears as a heading in OSM (v 12) under which follow descriptions of a number of dolmens. The name Baile Chloch Tógála is very apt for this townland as there is an impressive dolmen in it known locally as the Kempe Stones.  The word kempe survives in ballads and place-names and means ‘champion, warrior’ (Scot. Nat. Dict.). We have no concrete evidence of the origin of Greengraves, the current name of this townland, but it may be a corruption of Gráinne’s Grave(s) as the term Leaba Dhiarmada agus Ghráinne ‘Dermot and Gráinne’s bed’ is frequently applied to dolmens in Irish in many parts of the country.  This term came into existence as a result of the influence of the Early Modern Irish tale Tóruigheacht Dhiarmada agus Ghráinne ‘the pursuit of Diarmaid and Gráinne’ (Joyce i 341-2).  It is not uncommon for a particular dolmen to be referred to in English as a ‘Giant’s Grave’, so perhaps the name Greengraves came into being as a result of the fusion of this phenomenon and the effects of the tradition of Tóruigheacht Dhiarmada agus Ghráinne on the onomasticon.

References

Hannan R. J. (1992): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. 2 p. 229; revised PT, 2012

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference

(?)Gnonegranes

1659cCensus 1659 94
Ballycloghtogall al Greenegraves1650cInq. Ult. (Down) $109 Car. I
Ballymoghloe al Greenegranes1650cInq. Ult. (Down) $109 Car. I
Ballegreengraves1661BSD 121
Ballycloghtogall als Greengraves1675Montgomery MSS 268 n.35

Greengraves al Ballycloghtogall

1720Deeds & Wills (DF)

Cloch Togbhail "raised stone"

1834cJ O'D (OSNB) E 32

"town of the lifted stone"

1880O'Laverty ii 134
Barony
Castlereagh Lower
Parish
Newtownards
Parish in 1851
Newtownards
Townland
None
Place name ID
11913
Place name type
T