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Ballyreagh, County Down


perhaps Ir. Baile an Reithe ‘townland of the ram’


Early spellings such as Ballinreagh (1623) seem to indicate a structure of baile + article + gen. sing. of noun.  One possibility might be Baile an Fhraoigh ‘townland of the heather’, but this appears to be the origin of Ballyree in the neighbouring parish of Bangor and there is little similarity between the forms for it and the forms for Ballyreagh.  It could be argued that the second element is gen. sing. of reithe ‘a ram’ as intervocalic -th- was frequently lost in East Ulster Irish and this may account for the current local pronunciation.  This phenomenon is attested in other Ulster place-names: the Co. Monaghan town Ballybay derives from Irish Béal Átha Beithe and Glenveagh, Co. Donegal is an anglicization of Irish Gleann Bheithe.  Movilla appears as an alias for Ballyreagh in a number of sources.  Although these two townlands are separated by Bootown, it is likely that they were contiguous in the 17th century.  In historical documentation, neighbouring townlands frequently appear as alias forms for each other.  Bootown, appears to be of English origin and, therefore, not as long established as the other two townlands.  Our earliest reference to it is in a document from the last quarter of the 17th century.  It probably comprises territory which was formerly included in the townlands of Movilla and Ballyreagh.


Hannan R. J. (1992): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. 2 p. 223

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference
Ballenrya1603Ex. Inq. (Dn) 2 Jac. I
Ballenria1605CPR Jas I 72b
Ballinieagh al Movilla1623Ham. Copy Inq. [1623] xliv
Ballinreagh al Movilla1623Ham. Copy Inq. [1623] xxxi
Ballinreaghe al Movilla1627CPR Chas I 228-9
Ballencreagh al Ballinry1650cInq. Ult. (Down) $109 Car. I
Ballinreagh al Ballinry al Movilla1650cInq. Ult. (Down) $109 Car. I
Ballerea1659cCensus 1659 94
Ballerae al. Ballinry1661BSD 87

Ballinreagh als Moville als Bowtowne als Ballypreo

1675Montgomery MSS 267 n.35
Ballyrea1810Wm. Map (OSNB) E 32
Ballyrea1830cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) E 32

Baile Riach "grey town"

1834cJ O'D (OSNB) E 32
Ards Lower
Parish in 1851
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