Placenamesni.orgthe history behind our place-names

Erenagh, County Down


Ir. An Oireanach ‘the cultivated place’


The name of the townland of Erenagh is referred to in the medieval registry of Furness Abbey in Lancashire in Monasticon Anglicanum which informs us that ‘a certain King of Ulster, named Magnellus Makenlef’ founded an abbey here in 1127, near the well of St Finian, in the land that is called Erynach (i.e. Erenagh) and named it the Abbey of Carrick (O’Laverty i 139-140). This is a rare daughter foundation of an English monastery which already existed prior to the arrival of John de Courcy and his knights in Ulster in 1177 (Duffy 1995, 24).  No trace of this abbey survives (see Castleskreen) but the well referred to is still known as St Finnian’s Well and stands near the southern boundary of the townland. Locally the abbey was known as Templenageerah, from Irish Teampall na gCaorach ‘church of the sheep’. The name of the townland of Erenagh is recorded as Narrenagh in 1603 and as Narenagh al’ Erinagh in 1662 and the most satisfactory interpretation of the place-name is An Oireanach ‘the cultivated place’, the initial N- of these historical spellings representing the -n of the Irish article An. In the Annals of the Four Masters, John O’Donovan has wrongly identified Erenagh with caislen na hOirenchi, a castle which is referred to as the site of a battle in 1497 in which the Magennis owners of the castle overcame their enemies the MacMahons and their allies (AFM iv 1240). In fact, caislen na hOirenchi refers to the townland of Greencastle in the parish of Kilkeel (see PNI iii 42).


PMcK, 2009; with additions PT, 2012.

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference


1127Mon. Ang. i 710 b (Register of Furness)

Ergna - was the old name

1834cJ O'D (OSNB) 170


1834cOSNB: gen. sources E 120
(?)Hurmach1200cde Courcy & St. Werburgh's abbey 175
Erreny1549Ex. Inq. (Dn) 3 Ed. VI 7
Narrenagh1603CPR Jas I 14b
Errgnaghe1632Ex. Inq. (Dn) 8 Car. I (DF)
Nurenagh1635Inq. Ult. (Down) $63 Car. I
Narenagh1637Lodge RR I 429
Erganagh1659cCensus 1659 70
Erenagh1661BSD 100
Narenagh al Erinagh1662Inq. Ult. (Down) $22 Car. II
Ernagh1710Map Ld de Clifford (OSNB) E 120
Erinagh1755Map of Down (OSNB) E 120
Ernagh1810Wm. Map (OSNB) E 120
Lecale Upper
Parish in 1851
Place name ID
Place name type