Scrabo, County Down
Ir. Screabach ‘thinly covered rock; light, stony ground’
2km SW of Newtownards
par: Newtownards bar: Castlereagh Lower
Given its striking and prominent position overlooking Strangford Lough, it is only to be expected that reference to the hill from which this townland is named should be found in a number of interesting sources, including Great Rolls Pipe, Speed’s Ulster and Neilson’s Intro. Neilson, probably on the basis of local tradition, indicates that Scrabo was regarded as being a fairy hill and that its guardian was one Mac an Eantoin (Neilson’s Intro. 74, 88). O’Laverty (ii 10) may have been the first to discover the ‘lost’ townland of Killcoman. On the evidence of the 1675 AD spellings Ballykillconan, als Kilcoman, als Ballycullen, als Scrabo Hills, als Wilson's Land, he was of the opinion that an area of land in the townlands of Scrabo and Ballycullen formerly delineated the townland of Killcoman.
The 19th-century historian Knox (Knox Hist. 557) has this to say about Scrabo: "The highest ground in this district, except the adjoining hill of Karnav Gar (i.e. Goat's mount) is Scrabo Hill, the ‘Knock Scraboh’ of Speed's Map, on which several very valuable freestone quarries have been opened. On its summit there is a handsome turreted memorial, visible to a great distance, erected from a design by Sir Charles Lanyon, in honour of the third Marquis of Londonderry." A hill-fort is situated on the top of this prominent hill and traces of a number of hut-groups can be seen below the summit (ASCD 147, 179).
The quarries at Scrabo are amongst the most important in Ulster and are of considerable antiquity since Grey Abbey was built with Scrabo sandstone in the late 12th century. The Natural Stone Database (www.stonedatabase.com) lists no less than 109 historic buildings built with Scrabo sandstone, including Belfast Castle, Belfast Royal Academy and the Albert Clock.
ReferencesHannan R. J. (1992): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. 2 p. 235; revised PT; McKay, P. (2007): A Dictionary of Ulster Place-Names, p. 129;
Historical name form
|Old Form||Ref. Date||Reference|
Strabok, 1 caru'' in le hill de
|1450c||CPR (Tresham) 242|
|1610||Speed's Antrim & Down|
Straboe, the hill of
|1613||CPR Jas I 255a|
The highest ground in this district , except the adjoining hill of Karnav Gar (i.e. Goat's mount) [=Cairngaver] is Scrabo Hill
|1875||Knox Hist. 557|
|Scraboc||1275c||Great Rolls Pipe xxxvi 32|
|Scrabocke||1580c||SE Ulster Map|
|Scrabo||1623||Ham. Copy Inq.  xliii|
|Scrabo||1659c||Census 1659 95|
Ballykillconan als Killcoman als Ballycullen als Scrabo Hills als Wilson's Land
|1675||Montgomery MSS 268 n.35|
|Scrabo||1683||Descr. Ards 41|
|Scraba||1774||Harris Hist. 70|
Sgrabaigh, i Sioghbhrugh
|1808||Neilson's Intro. 74|
|Scrabo||1810||Wm. Map (OSNB) E33|
|Scrabo||1830c||Bnd. Sur. (OSNB) E33|
Scraith Bo ""sward of the cow""
|1834c||J O'D (OSNB) E33|
""the sward of the cows"" (John McAnanty, northern fairy king)
|1869c||Joyce ii 384 Joyce|
Screabach "rough, stony land"
|1999||Dict. Ulst. PN 129|
- Castlereagh Lower
- Parish in 1851
- Place name ID
- Place name type