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Boleyhill, County Fermanagh


A hybrid form


This townland is situated in the Knocks area, about two miles east of Lisnaskea.  It is almost entirely surrounded by two streams which unite at its south-western corner to form the Hollybrook River.

The weight of the documentary evidence, together with the local pronunciation (10), suggests that the name Boleyhill is made up of a combination of Irish buaile “(summer) cattle-enclosure” plus the English word hill.  The Ordnance Survey Name Book reveals that O’Donovan initially recommended Ballyhill as the official spelling, on the basis of his acceptance of Donnell Maguire’s interpretation of the first element as baile “town, townland”.  However, even though he believed the name of the townland to mean “hilltown” (9), another note in the name book reveals that O’Donovan later recommended that the name of the townland should be spelt Boleyhill to distinguish it from the townland of Ballyhill in the neighbouring parish of Aghavea (OSNB B113). 

The practice of “booleying” which is reflected in the first element of Boleyhill was formerly very common in Ireland.  Joyce remarks:


“The mountain habitations where they lived [those who kept cattle], fed their cattle, and carried on their dairy operations during the summer, were called in Irish buaile [booly], a word evidently derived from , a cow.  This custom existed down to the sixteenth century… The term booley was not confined to mountainous districts; for in some parts of Ireland it was applied to any place where cattle were fed or milked, or which was set apart for dairy purposes” (Joyce i 239).


In 1835 the Ordnance Survery Memoir for the parish of Aghalurcher records that “most of the mountain ground is used for pasture during the summer for sheep and young cattle, which are  always attended by a boy or girl as herd to prevent their straying into the cultivated land” (OSM iv 15).


(info. from McKay, P. (2004): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. 8 p. 27)

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference
Boley hill1817GJM M'stephana (OSNB) B113
Bolyhill1824HC Sur.& Val.(OSNB) B113
Bollyhill1830cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) B113
Ballyhill1833Mr Buck's Letter (OSNB) B113
Ballyhill1834cJ O'D (OSNB) B113
Boley hill1834cOSNB: gen. sources B113
Boleyhill1834cSur. & Val. Lisnaskea Est. (OSNB) B113
~Baile hill ""Hill town""1834cDonnell Maguire (OSNB) B113
Boleyhill1862Griffith's Val.
Parish in 1851
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