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Moneyreagh, County Down

Origin

Ir. Mónaidh Riabhach ‘grey bog or moor’

Background

(sometimes Moneyrea)

5km WSW of Comber

The name of the townland of Moneyreagh is recorded as Ballymoyne-Righ in 1606 and as Monyrea in 1641 and the most satisfactory interpretation of the name is Mónaidh Riabhach ‘grey bog or moor’. In Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of 1837 we find a reference to an ‘extensive bog called Moneyreagh or the Royal Bog from which great quantities are sent to Belfast and other places’. The explanation of the name Moneyreagh as ‘the Royal Bog’ is the result of the misinterpretation of the final element as ‘king’ rather than riabhach ‘grey/speckled’. There is still an area of rough moorland in the south-west of the townland. In Gaisitéar na hÉireann the Irish form of Moneyreagh is given as Monadh Riabhach (138), monadh being a common element in Scottish place-names where it means ‘hilly ground/hilly region’ (Watson 391). In Dwelly’s Scottish Gaelic dictionary it is defined as ‘mountain, moor, range 2. heath, heathy expanse, desert 3. tolerably level hill ground 4. any hill-pasture as distinguished from meadow and arable land. While the interpretation of Moneyreagh as ‘grey heath’ does have merit, the Scottish Gaelic word monadh is not found as a word in Irish or as a place-name element in any native Irish source and this interpretation of the name seems unlikely. For a full discussion of the element see Toner (1991-3).

References

P. McKay, 2009; McKay, P. (2007): A Dictionary of Ulster Place-Names, p. 109

Additional Information

Town, 1961 Census

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference

Muine Riach ""grey brake/shrubbery""

1834cJ O'D (OSNB) E 19

Monadh Riabhach

1989GÉ 138

Mónaidh Riabhach ""grey bog/moor""

1999Dict. Ulst. PN 109
Ballymoyne-Righ1606CPR Jas I 73a
Ballemanare1623Ham. Copy Inq. [1623] xxxiv
Monyrea1641Wars Co. Down 77
Ballemanere al Ballenullere1645Inq. Ult. (Down) $104 Car. I
Ballymanere1645Inq. Ult. (Down) $104 Car. I
(?)Monerar1659cCensus 1659 87
Moneyrea1745OSNB: gen. sources E 19
Moneyrea1810Wm. Map (OSNB) E 19
Moneyreagh1830cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) E 19
Barony
Castlereagh Lower
Parish
Comber
Parish in 1851
Comber
Townland
None
Place name ID
12065
Place name type
T:V