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Rosstrevor, County Down


Ir. Ros Treabhair  ‘Trevor’s wood’


In 1744 Walter Harris wrote that ‘this Place was so called from an Heiress, whose Name was Rose, that married into the Family of the Trevors...’ (Harris Hist. 87).  Almost 100 years later we have two similar accounts of the origin of the name, one contained in a memoir written in October 1836 by J. Hill Williams for the Ordnance Survey (OSM iii 32) and the other in Samuel Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary published in 1837.  Both Hill and Lewis derive the name from Rose, daughter of Sir Marmaduke Whitchurch, ‘after whose marriage with Trevor, Viscount Dungannon, the family seat... was invariably called Rosetrevor’ (Lewis’ Top. Dict. ii 539).  The association of Rosstrevor with the surname Trevor is undoubtedly correct.  Edward Trevor, a Welshman, first appears in Co. Down as commander of the English garrison at Newry towards the end of the Nine Years War (Mooney’s Rostrevor 14).

The interpretation of the first element in Rosstrevor as the personal name Rose was later accepted by both Hill and Lewis, who disagreed merely on whether Rose was the only daughter or the youngest daughter of Marmaduke Whitchurch.  In fact neither is correct.  The Rose who married Edward Trevor in 1612 was not a daughter of Marmaduke Whitchurch but rather of Henry Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh from 1595 to 1613 (Hamilton 1915, 313). Hamilton suggests that ros in the meaning of ‘wood’ is very appropriate to the locality, and that Trevor, who was familiar with the Welsh word ros ‘a moor or marshy place’, simply added his own name to it.  The fact that the name is variously spelt Rosetrevor, Rostrevor and Rosstrevor in historical documents has caused some confusion, for Rosstrevor has been adopted as the correct spelling of the townland names whereas the village is more commonly spelt Rostrevor. 

The complicated history of Rosstrevor does not end here for Lewis tells us that ‘this place was anciently called Castle Roe or Rory, from its original founder, Rory, one of the family of the Magennises, Lords of Iveagh, of whose baronial castle, subsequently occupied by the Trevor family, there are still some remains near the town...’ (Lewis' Top. Dict. ii 539).  Of this castle there is no longer any trace but as recently as 1846 it was described as being situated ‘near the centre of the town, between the main street and the shore...’ (ASCD 263). There is no doubt that Caisleán Ruaidhrí ‘Rory’s castle’ is the original Irish name of this castle and that Castle Roe is merely a shortened form of the name.


Ó Mainnín, M. (1992): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. I p. 152

Additional Information

Spelt with double S as townland; see also the town of Rostrevor.

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference

C[aislén] Trever

1646Cín Lae Ó M. 42

Cairge breaca ""Spotted Rocks""

1834cOSNB Inf. E164

Cairge breaca, Anciently called

1834cOSNB: gen. sources E175

An Caisleán Ruadh

1905Post-Sheanchas 111

Caisleán Ruaidhrí

1905Post-Sheanchas 111

Caisleán Treibheor

1905Post-Sheanchas 111

Rois Treibheor

1905Post-Sheanchas 111

An Caisleán Ruadh

1905cSgéalaidhe Óirghiall 152

Caisleán Ruaidhrí

1905cSgéalaidhe Óirghiall 152

Ros Treibheor

1905cSgéalaidhe Óirghiall 87

Carrac an Bhraghad al. Caistel Ruad

1910Onom. Goed. 164 Source ?

Caislean Trever: Trever''s castle

1950Mooney's Rostrevor 12

Ros Treabhair

1969AGBP 119

Ros Treabhair

1988Éire Thuaidh

Ros Treabhair

1989GÉ 153

Ros Treabhair ""Trevor''s wood""

1999Dict. Ulst. PN 126

Ros Treabhair

2000Gateway to Ulster Map
(?)Rosses Point [State Papers]1564Mooney MS 155
Rose Trevor, Edward Trevor, Esq., Kt. of1613Mooney's Rostrevor 12 & 16
Rose Trevor1618Inq. Ult. (Down) xliii
Rose Trevor (the lands of)1618Mooney's Rostrevor 12
Rosse Trevor1618Mooney's Rostrevor 12
Rose-Trevor1623cCPR Jas I 305a
Rosetrevor1624Mooney's Rostrevor 12
Rossetrevor, Edw'' Trevor de1635Inq. Ult. (Down) $51 Car. I
Rostrever1655cCiv. Surv. x $72
Rosse Trevor1659cCensus 1659 72
Rosse, Baron Trevor of1662Mooney MS 156
Rostrever1672cHib. Del. Down
Rostrever1690Maps Down (Mac Aodha) 71
Rosstrevor1692Rent Roll Down 14
Rosetreuer1693Collins C'ford Lough
Rostrevor1712Maps Down (Mac Aodha) 71
Rostrepor1714Maps Down (Mac Aodha) 71
Carrickbrackian1726Mooney's Rostrevor 12
Rose Trevor1743Harris Hist. map
Rose-trevor1744Harris Hist. 141
Rostrevor Estate1800Map Hall Estates fol. 32
Rosstrever1810Wm. Map (OSNB) E164
Rosstrevor1830cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) E164
Carrickavraghad (ancient name)1836OSM iii 32
Castle Roe or Rory1837Lewis' Top. Dict. ii 539
Rostrevor or Rosetrevor1837Lewis' Top. Dict. ii 539
Rose Trevor1950Mooney's Rostrevor 12
Iveagh Up., Up. Half
Parish in 1851
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