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Ballygowan, County Down


Ir. Baile Mhic Gabhann ‘MacGowan’s townland’


The name of the townland of Ballygowan is recorded as Balle-McGowen in 1623, suggesting that the place-name is derived from Irish Baile Mhic Gabhann ‘MacGowan’s townland’. The surname Mac Gabhann ‘son of the smith’ can be anglicised as MacGowan, Magowan or Smith and is largely confined to Ulster, along with Cos Leitrim and Sligo (Bell 1988, 161). Baile Mhic Gabhann is also recorded as an earlier name of the townland of Magherabeg in the parish of Dromore in Co. Down (PNI vi 139). The family of Mac Gabhann were known as professional historians and a member of the family was vicar of the Co. Down parish of Donaghcloney in 1427 (Swanzy’s Dromore 113).  The MacGowans of the Ards were associated in 1744 with the Clandeboy O’Neills (O’Neill Fun. Oration 266) and in the first half of the 19th century John O’Donovan found the surname MacGowan ‘in Newry and other towns in the Co. of Down…There were McGowans and O’Gowans’ (see PNI vi 25, 139, 281). The surname Ó Gabhann (anglicised O’Gowan and Smith) is also well attested in Co Down and is the basis of the name of the townland of Ballygowan in the parish of Kilkeel (PNI iii 23). Roughly half of the townland of Ballygowan is in the neighbouring parish of Killinchy.


McKay, P. (2007) A Dictionary of Ulster Place-Names, p.13; P. McKay, 2009;

Additional Information

split td; other portion in par. Killinchy. Town, 1961 Census.

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference

Baile Uí Ghabhann ""O''Gowan''s town""

1834cJ O'D (OSNB) E 19

Baile Uí Ghobhana

1834cLuke Killen (OSNB) 36/56

Baile Mhic Gabhann ""MacGowan''s townland""

1999Dict. Ulst. PN 13
Ballygowne1618Inq. Ult. (Down) $8 Jac. I
Balligowan al Balliegowne1620Ham. Patent [1620] xxi
Balle-McGowen1623Ham. Copy Inq. [1623] xxxiv
Ballygowne1623Ham. Copy Inq. [1623] xlv
Ballegowne1630Ham. Patent [1630] xiii
Ballegowne or Ballegowan1630Ham. Patent [1630] xii
Ballegowne or Ballegowan1630Ham. Patent [1630] xii
Ballegowne al Ballegowan1645Inq. Ult. (Down) $104 Car. I
Levallegowne1645Inq. Ult. (Down) $104 Car. I
Ballygowne1659cCensus 1659 86
Ballygowen1810Wm. Map (OSNB) E 19
Ballygowen1810Wm. Map (OSNB) 36/56
Ballygowan1830cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) 36/56
Ballygowan1830cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) E 19
Castlereagh Lower
Parish in 1851
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