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Ballymisert, County Down

Origin

Ir. Baile Machaire 'townland of the plain'

Background

Ballymisert lies north-east of Strandtown, across the Bangor road from the Sydenham intake, which consists of former mudflats which now contain Belfast City Airport. The townland name Ballymisert is now falling out of use, but it was the subject of a short article by Robbie Hannan (1988), who interpreted it as Baile Machaire ''townland of the plain'. In 1623 it was said to lie 'in or neare the Plaines of Belfast' (Hamilton MSS xxxi). Most of the changes leading to the current anglicised spelling had happened by the early 17th century. Ballymagher, an alternative in 1605, is the closest anglicised spelling we have to the original, but since the fricative sound represented by the spelling gh (ch in Gaelic and in Scots) was weak in the Irish of Ulster it could also be represented by a semivowel, in the Inquisition spelled i. Spellings with c or j could arise as variant readings of this (Hamilton MSS xxxi), and where the final syllable ended up as -cer, misunderstanding the sound as -ser was understandable. A final -t (or -d) has been added to many anglicised names in Ulster, for example Rathfriland, and Moyard townland near Benburb. Given its coastal location, the element machaire here may refer to sand dunes rather than to a plain.

References

R. Hannan 1988; K. Muhr, 2009; PT 2012

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference

Ballemachores

1605CPR Jas I 38a

Ballimachoris

1605Inq. Ult. (Down) $2 Jac 1

Ballimachoris

1620Ham. Patent [1620] xx

Balle Horis

1625cRaven Map Clandeboye 37, 38

Ballemachoris, and Ballemajor or Ballemacer

1630Ham. Patent [1630] xi

Ballemachoris

1644Inq. Ult. (Down) $104 Car 1

Ballemachoris

1662Inq. Ult. (Down) $23 Car 11

Baile Machaire ""townland of (the) plain""

1991NIPNP posters Belfast
Ballimajor al Ballimagher al Ballimaser1620Ham. Patent [1620] xx
Balle Mater1625cRaven Map Clandeboye 37
Ballemachoris, and Ballemajor or Ballemacer1630Ham. Patent [1630] xi
Ballymaser1745Map of Down (OSNB) No. 29
Ballymisert1810Wm. Map (OSNB) No. 29
Ballymizert1830cTreas. Warrant (OSNB) No. 29
Mysart''s Town1834cJ O'D (OSNB) No. 29
Barony
Castlereagh Lower
Parish
Holywood
Parish in 1851
Holywood
Townland
None
Place name ID
17416
Place name type
T