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Ballydorn, County Down


Ir. Baile an Doirn ‘townland of the pebble bank or causeway’


Ballydorn is in the NE of Killinchy parish, surrounded on three sides by Strangford Lough, and with a land boundary with Craigarusky and Killinakin townlands on the SW and south. The pebble causeway is probably that linking the townland to Sketrick Island and castle to the east (EA 185), although the north of the townland faces the old church of Nendrum on Mahee Island. As described in Celebrating Ulster's Townlands, this is an example of the term dorn for a causeway or ford. The Gaelic word dorn originally meant ‘fist’, in Ireland it also developed the meaning ‘throwing stone’ or ‘pebble’, while East Ulster shares the Scottish Gaelic meaning of a stony causeway exposed at low tide, or narrow channel passable at full tide. The place-name Ballydorn ‘townland of the dorn’ now names the lightship which is the flagship of the Down Cruising Club. However, it is attested quite late in the sources, not appearing before B: Dorne in 1659, so the townland may have had another name earlier.


KM, 2009

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference

Baile Uí Dhornáin

1834cLuke Killen (OSNB) 36/56

Baile an Doirn ""townland of the pebble causeway""

1999Cel. Ulst. Tds 8

Dornach = ""place of pebbles/pebbly causeway""

1999NIPNP replies KM/RB
B: Dorne1659cCensus 1659 84
Balledorne + Ballemcc aravenny1661BSD 128
Ballydorne1661BSD 63
Ballydorn1745Map in poss. S. Crawford (OSNB) 36/56
Ballydorn1810Wm. Map (OSNB) 36/56
Ballydorn1830cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) 36/56
Parish in 1851
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