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Ballinlea Upper, County Antrim


Ir.  Baile an Leá ‘townland of the physician’ 


With the exception of Ballynalea (1720) and (?)Ballynalia (1812) (which are related and appear to contain scribal errors), the historical variants indicate that the final element was the gen. sing. form of a masc. noun. If we accept the recent lowering of the final vowel from [ʎ]/[i:]to [e:], we could consider lao ‘calf’ as a possible final element (see also Broughanlea in Culfeightrin).

Dinneen (sv. liaigh) gives leagha, for which is ascribed the standard Mod. Ir. form leá, as a gen. sing. form of lia ‘healer, physician’ (Ó Dónaill sv. 2 lia; leá is wrongly listed by Ó Dónaill as a variant gen. sing. of lia ‘stone; pillar-stone’). This reflects modern pronunciation most closely. ‘Each of the great Irish families had attached to it a physician whose office was hereditary, and who usually held a tract of land in return for service’ (Joyce ii 77). Professions are well represented in Irish place-names (ibid. ii 90-121). Other local examples include Baile na gCeard (anglicized Ballynagard) ‘townland of the artificers’ in Culfeightrin.

There appears to have been some division of Ballinlea as early as 1669 (Balinlea).


(info. from Mac Gabhann, F. (1997): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. 7 p. 52)

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference
(?)Ballenland1625PRONI D2977/3A/2 /4/1
Ballinlea1657cHib. Reg. Cary
Ballynkea1659Census 1659 13
Ballynkea1659cCensus 1659 13
Ballelea1661Court of Claims $923
Ballinlea1661BSD 173
Ballinlea 1 Qur.1661Lapsed Money Book 157
?Ballinlew1668ASE 116b
Ballinlew1668ASE 116b $19
Ballyaynels1669HMR Ant. 2
Balinlea1672cHib. Del.
Ballinlea1696PRONI D2977/3A/2 /3/2A
Ballyenlea1696PRONI D2977/3A/2 /3/1
Ballyinlea1709PRONI D2977/3A/2 /3/3, 4
Ballynalea1720Hill's Stewarts 11
Ballinlea O''Cahan,1734Religious Survey
Ballinlea-Stewart1734Religious Survey
Upper Ballenlea1734Stewart's Survey 19
Bellanlea1753Merchant's Book 58
Ballinlea1766Religious Census
Ballinlae1803Shaw Mason's Par. Sur. 170
(?)Ballynalia1812PRONI D2977/3A/2 /1/40
Ballinloe1814Shaw Mason's Par. Sur. 150
Ballinlea Upper1827cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) B 26
Ballenlae1830OSM xxiv 11
Ballinlea Upper1833Tithe Applot. 1
Baile an Leagha ""Town of the1923Rev. Magill 7
physician""1923Rev. Magill 7
Baile an Leagha ""Town of the Physicians""1934Magill's Antrim 65
~Baile an Leá1997PNI vii, 52
Parish in 1851
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