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Kilbroney Upper, County Down


Ir. Cill BhrónaíBrónach’s church’ + Eng. upper


The old name for Kilbroney parish was Glenn Sechis, a form attested not only in Irish but also in Latin documents of the late medieval period where it appears in anglicized dress.  That it is to be identified with Kilbroney is clear from the Papal Taxation of 1306, where it is stated to be in the diocese of Dromore (Eccles. Tax. 114), and from the Irish sources where it is associated with Saint Brónach.  Although the word sechis is of dubious origin Mooney believes that it may ‘be based on the Old-Irish word sech... sometimes used as a prefix meaning ‘secluded’, and that Glenn Seichis, therefore, might mean ‘glen of seclusion’.

Whereas the old name Glenn Sechis lingered on in the records until the 17th century. Kilbroney first makes its appearence in 1366.  Although the name undoubtedly commemorates Saint Brónach, the form of its gen. case in Irish is a little uncertain.  There are two possibilities: Bróncha and Brónaí (earlier Brónaighe); and our earliest example of the name, the gen. form Brónchi uirginisBrónach the virgin’ in the 9th-century text Mart. Tal. (p. 29), clearly indicates the former.  Cill Bhróncha was also recorded by John O'Donovan from his local informant John Morgan as late as 1834.   However, the bulk of the historical documentation seems to point to an original Cill Bhrónaí, and this was the form used by Irish speakers in Omeath, Co. Louth, at the turn of the century.  A third Irish form, Cill Bhroinsheacha (51), is also recorded in the OSNB, but for this curious form there appears to be no basis. 

Kilbroney Upper is first documented as a separate townland in the Boundary Survey c.1830.  It is one of a number of townlands in the parish of Kilbroney which have upper as a suffix.  It is common for townlands and other administrative units to be divided into parts named lower and upper.  By convention lower usually means 'north' and upper 'south'.  In Kilbroney, however, the suffix upper has been applied to subdivisions of townlands which are actually on higher ground.  Kilbroney Upper lies N of Kilbroney.


Ó Mainnín, M. (1992): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. I p. 144; with additions PT, 2012.

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference

Kilbroney Upper

1830cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) E164
Iveagh Up., Up. Half
Parish in 1851
Place name ID
Place name type