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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 ( lists no less than 109 historic buildings built with Scrabo sandstone, including Belfast Castle, Belfast Royal Academy and the Albert Clock.


Hannan 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;

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference

Strabok, 1 caru'' in le hill de

1450cCPR (Tresham) 242

Knock Scraboh

1610Speed's Antrim & Down

Knock Scraboh

1610Speed's Ulster

Straboe, the hill of

1613CPR 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

1875Knox Hist. 557
Scraboc1275cGreat Rolls Pipe xxxvi 32
Scrabocke1580cSE Ulster Map
Scrabocke1595Mercator's Ulst.
Scraboke1595Mercator's Ulst.
Scrabo1623Ham. Copy Inq. [1623] xliii
Scrabo1659cCensus 1659 95

Ballykillconan als Killcoman als Ballycullen als Scrabo Hills als Wilson's Land

1675Montgomery MSS 268 n.35
Scrabo1683Descr. Ards 41
Scraba1774Harris Hist. 70

Sgrabaigh, i Sioghbhrugh

1808Neilson's Intro. 74
Scrabo1810Wm. Map (OSNB) E33
Scrabo1830cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) E33

Scraith Bo ""sward of the cow""

1834cJ O'D (OSNB) E33

""the sward of the cows"" (John McAnanty, northern fairy king)

1869cJoyce ii 384 Joyce


1969AGBP 119


1989GÉ 155

Screabach "rough, stony land"

1999Dict. Ulst. PN 129
Castlereagh Lower
Parish in 1851
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