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Downpatrick, County Down

Origin

Ir. Dún Pádraig ‘(St) Patrick’s fort’; earlier Dún Lethglaise perhaps ‘fort of the side of the stream’

Background

County town of Down, 17km NE of Newcastle

par: Down bar: Lecale Upper

Downpatrick, the county town of Co. Down, is situated in the townland of Demesne of Down.  The original Ir. name for Downpatrick was Dún Lethglaise perhaps ‘fort of the side of the stream’. The fort was a prehistoric ring-fort which formerly stood on Cathedral Hill and within which was constructed an early monastery and the later church and abbey of St Patrick.

The stream in question can only be the river Quoile which flows close to the bottom of Cathedral Hill. Dún da Lethglas is also found as an earlier name for the settlement at Downpatrick and while it is obviously connected with the form Dún Lethglaise, the exact nature of the relationship is obscure. Another earlier name for Downpatrick was Rathkeltair, from Ir. Ráth Cealtchair ‘fort of Cealtchair’, the fort being, apparently, the aforementioned prehistoric ring-fort on Cathedral Hill.  The Cealtchair referred to was Cealtchair mac Uitheachair, a mythical warrior of the ancient Ulster Cyle of Tales. The fort in question was a prehistoric ring-fort which formerly stood on Cathedral Hill and within which was constructed an early monastery and the later church and abbey of St Patrick.  The town's modern name Dún Pádraig (whence Downpatrick) is not attested prior to the 17th century. Prior to this in English the town was usually known simply as Down (or Downe), which has been retained as the name of the county and parish.

References

McKay, P. (2007): A Dictionary of Ulster Place-Names, p. 59-60; with additions PT, 2012.

Additional Information

T., 1851 Census. See also the county of Down, the parish of Down and the townland of Demesne of Down

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference

rucsat na daim conici baili it indiu Dún Lethglais

0900cTrip. Life (Stokes) 252

Celtchair m C ó Dún Lethglaisi atúaid

1100cTBC (Rec. I) l.3742

Celtchair m. Cuitheochair ó Dún Lethglaisi

1100cTBC (Rec. I) l.3742

Celtchar m Guthidir... i nDún Lethglaisse

1100cTBC (Rec. I) l.57

co Celtchar m Cuithechair co Lethglais

1100cTBC (Rec. I) l.3472

co Celtchar mac Cuithechair co Lethglais

1100cTBC (Rec. I) l.3455

Dundalethgla

1157cNewry Char. (Mon. Ang.) 1134

Dundalethglas

1157cNewry Char. (Flanagan)

Celtchair...a Ráith Celtchair, a Dún dá Lethglas

1160cMesca Ulad l.620

co Celtchair mac Cuthechair i lLethglais

1160cTBC (LL) l.4053

i n-Dun

1170AU ii 166

Dun-dalethglas

1177AU ii 184

gu Dun-da-lethghlas

1177AU ii 188

o Dhun

1178AU ii 192

Dun Mor (in Dál Fiatach?)

1200cDescendants Ir xiv 78

Dun da Leathglas (Dal F)

1200cDescendants Ir xiv 88

a nDun Da-leath-glas

1200cDescendants Ir xiii 346

a nDun da Leathglas (Dal F)

1200cDescendants Ir xiv 80,82

a nDun daleathglaisi (Dal F)

1200cDescendants Ir xiv 82

ag Dun-da-leathglas

1260AU ii 328

Dunnorensem et Conderensem, Archiepiscopum et Dom

1266AU ii 340

co Dun-da-leathglas

1375AU ii 552

Dhuin, mainístir

1538AU iii 624

Droma Lethglaisi, Ferghas, epscop

1630cMart. Don. Mar 30 p90

i nDún

1630cMart. Don. Feb 1 p36

i nDun da Lethglas in Ultoibh

1630cMart. Don. June 9 p150

Dundalethglas [Downpatrick], Ros of

1864Mart. Don. p114 n1

Dún Pádraig

1989GÉ 100

Dún Lethglaise perhaps ""fort of the side of the stream"

1999Dict. Ulst. PN 59

Dún Pádraig "(St) Patrick's fort"

1999Dict. Ulst. PN 59

Dún da Lethglas

1999Dict. Ulst. PN 59

Dún

1999Cel. Ulst. Tds 27

Ráth Cealtchair ""fort of Cealtchair""

1999Dict. Ulst. PN 60

Dún Pádraig "(St) Patrick's fort"

2002Culture NI PNN PMcK/JP
Downe1595Mercator's Ulst.
Downe1657Inq. Down (Reeves1) 77, 147
maner of Downpatrick or Sleward1680Indenture (Winkfield) 4
Barony
Lecale Upper
Parish
Down
Parish in 1851
Down
Townland
Demesne of Down/Jordans Acre/Audleys Acre
Place name ID
12718
Place name type
M:V