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Rostrevor, County Down

Origin

Ir. Ros Treabhair  ‘Trevor’s wood’

Background

3km E of Warrenpoint

par: Kilbroney bar: Iveagh Upper, Upper Half

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  The fact that the name is variously spelt Rosetrevor, Rostrevor and Rosstrevor in historical documents has caused some confusion, for Rosstrevor has been adopted as the correct spelling of the townland names whereas the village is more commonly spelt Rostrevor.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.

References

Ó Mainnín, M. (1992): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. I p. 152; McKay, P. (2007): A Dictionary of Ulster Place-Names, p. 126

Additional Information

T., 1851 Census; spelt with double S 1851; spelt with 1 S in 1961 Census and on 50K map. See also the townland of Rosstrevor.

Historical name form

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Barony
Iveagh Up., Up. Half
Parish
Kilbroney
Parish in 1851
Kilbroney
Townland
Rosstrevor
Place name ID
15299
Place name type
M:V:Y