Ballynafern, County Down
Ir. Baile na Fearna ‘townland of the alder’
The name Ballynafern seems to be derived from baile followed by the article followed by a final element which has two syllables in the earliest forms. e.g. Ballynefarin 1609 (CPR Jas I 394b). The Ordnance Survey Name Book records five syllables in the early 19th-century pronunciation Bal-ly-na-ferin, sometimes reflected in the spelling Ballynaferin in 1830 (Newry Tel. (OSNB)) which made Dean Mooney suggest Baile na Fearthainne ‘townland of the rain’ (Mooney 1950c 21) . However -fern is now pronounced as one syllable and O’Donovan’s suggestion, i.e. Baile na Fearna ‘town of the alder’, is here followed (J O'D (OSNB)). Fearn ‘alder’, now masculine in gender, was originally feminine and remains feminine in Scottish Gaelic. Fernhill House in the townland seems to have been named from an English folk-etymology of Ballynafern.
ReferencesMuhr, K. (1996): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. 6 p. 65
Historical name form
|Old Form||Ref. Date||Reference|
Baile na Fe(a)rna "Town of the Alder"
|1834c||J O'D (OSNB) E18.172|
Baile-na-bhfearn "the town of the fearns/alder trees"
|1913||Joyce iii 110|
Baile na fearthaine "Town of the rain''?
|1950c||Mooney 1950c 21|
Baile na Fearna
Baile na bhFearn "townland of the alders"
|1999||Cel. Ulst. Tds 24|
|Ballynefarin (in Shanchall)||1609||CPR Jas I 394b|
|Ballinefarin (12 towns, precinct of Shanchall)||1611||CPR Jas I 190a|
|Ballynafarrin (in Shanechall)||1618||Inq. Ult. (Down) $7 Jac. I|
|Ballynafarney, Arthur Magneisse of||1642||Wars Co. Down xii 4|
|Ballinofarny||1657c||Hib. Reg. Up. Iveagh|
|the halfe towne of Ballyfearn||1659c||Census 1659 75|
|Ballinafarny||1672c||Hib. Del. Down|
|Ballyfarme||1692||Rent Roll Down 12|
|Ballynaferne||1810||Wm. Map (OSNB) E18.13|
|Ballynafern||1819||Tombstone (OSNB) E18.172|
|Ballynaferin||1830||Newry Tel. (OSNB) E18.172|
|Ballynafern||1830c||Bnd. Sur. (OSNB) E18.13|
|[Bal-ly-na-ferin]||1834c||OSNB Pron. E18.172|
|Smith Point & The Ethere (boggy places)||1950c||Mooney 1950c 22|
- Iveagh Up., Up. Half
- Parish in 1851
- Place name ID
- Place name type