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Carrickarade Island, County Antrim


Ir. Carraig Dhroichid 'rock of the bridge'


The rope-bridge at Carrickarade, which is said to have been erected by salmon fishermen in the mid-eighteenth century, is described as 'one of the lions' of the north coast in the Ordnance Survey memoir for the parish of Ballintoy (OSM xiv 34). Although it might seem far removed from the anglicised forms Carrickarade or Carrick-a-rede, Toner (2008) has argued convincingly that the original Irish form is Carraig Dhroichid meaning 'rock of the bridge'. 

The phonological stages involved in the development of the name are: 1) de-voicing and subsequent de-palatalisation of the final -g of carraig under the influence of the following broad consonant to give /k/; 2) de-lenition and devoicing of the initial dh- of dhroichid, also yielding /k/; 3) coalescence of the two /k/ sounds across the word boundary; 4) loss of the medial -ch- in the second element, with compensatory lengthening of the vowel.

Toner notes that "the fact that the rock appears to have been named in Irish from the bridge sheds some further light on its early history.  The bridge must be as old as the name and so the name supports the claim in the Ordnance Survey memoirs that the erection of a rope bridge on the island goes back to the eighteenth century.  It also suggests that the fishermen who erected and used the bridge at this time were Irish-speaking" (Toner 2008: 69).


McKay, P. (2007): A Dictionary of Ulster Place-Names, p. 35; See G. Toner 'The Original Name of Carrickarade/Carrick-a-Rede, County Antrim', Ainm 9 (2008), 65-71

Additional Information

Spelt thus on OSNI 1:50,000 map. Also frequently spelt Carrick-a-rede and Carrickarede.

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference

Carraic a ramhad "rock of the road"

1827J O'D (OSNB) B 26

"named from an Irish tribe called Dalriada"

1855cOSRNB sh.4, 1


1900Hill's Stewarts 154 n.1

Carraig a' roid "The rock of the road"

1905Ó Dubhthaigh 134

Carraig a róid "Rock of the road"

1923Rev. Magill 10

Carraig an Ráid

1988Éire Thuaidh

(?) Carraig an Ráid

1996NIPNP signage FMacG/KMcG

A hybrid form.... etymology uncertain

1997PNI vii 85-6

perhaps Carraig an Raid "rock of the throwing or casting"

1999Dict. Ulst. PN 35

Carraig Droichid 'rock of the bridge'

2008Toner, G. 2008 66
Carrickarede1780Lendrick Map
Carrick a Rede1812Dubourdieu Map
Carrick-a-rede1822Hamilton's Letters 247
Carrick a rede1827cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) B 26
Carrickaraid1855cOSRNB sh.4, 1
Carrick-a-raide1887O'Laverty iv 338
Parish in 1851
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