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Castlebeg, County Down


Ir. An Caisleán Beag ‘the little stone ring-fort’; earlier An Caiseal Beag


Castlebeg is the most southerly townland in the parish of Dundonald, lying a short distance north of the town of Comber. It contains the site of a church, the name of which is written Capella de Castelbeg in the Papal Taxation of c.1306 (EA 10). Writing in 1880 O’Laverty (ii 134) remarks: ‘In the townland of Castlebeg, in a field belonging to Mr. James Steele, situate to the  east of his garden, a great number of stone lined graves were found about fifty years ago. This was the site of ‘the chapel of Castlebeg’….This church seems, like many of the ancient Irish churches, to have been surrounded by a circular entrenchment faced with stones called a cashel; hence, probably, the name of the townland Cashel-beg (the little Cashel). The site of the cashel is still observable, and is called the Fairy Ring’. The name of the townland of Castlebeg is recorded as Castelbegg in an Inquisition of 1333 (Inq. Earldom Ulst. iii 66) and as Ballycaslanebeg in 1605 and the most satisfactory interpretation of the name appears to be An Caisleán Beag (earlier An Caiseal Beag(?)) where caisleán is to be understood not in its normal sense of ‘castle’ but rather as signifying a stone ring-fort.


P. McKay, 2009

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference

Caislean Beag

1834cJ O'D (OSNB) No. 38
Castelbeg1333Inq. Earldom Ulster iii 66
Ballycaslanebeg1605Inq. Ult. (Down) $2 Jac. I
Ballycastellanbegg1612CPR Jas I 236a
Castlebege1615Terrier (Reeves) 51
Castlebege1615Terrier (O'Laverty) 326
Ballicastellanbeg1620Ham. Patent [1620] xxi
Ballycaslanbeg1630Ham. Patent [1630] xiii
Ballecaslanbege1645Inq. Ult. (Down) $104 Car. I
Castlebegg1659cCensus 1659 87
Castlebegg1661BSD 125
Castlebeg1745Map of Down (OSNB) No. 48
Castlebeg1745Map of Down (OSNB) No. 48
Castlebeg1830cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) No. 48
Castlebeg1830cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) No. 48
Castlereagh Lower
Parish in 1851
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