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Breda, County Down


Ir. An Bhréadach ‘the broken land, the narrow glen’


Breda was formerly a parish in its own right, but in 1658 it was amalgamated with the neighbouring parish of Knock to form the modern civil parish of Knockbreda. The parish church of the former parish of Breda is marked by an old graveyard in the townland of Breda which now forms part of Belvoir Park Forest. Breda also forms part of the name of the village of Newtownbreda which is in the townland of Breda and is now a suburb of Belfast.

Breda is recorded c.1050 as in Brédach and c.1200 as in Bretach  in ‘The history of the descendants of Ir’. In the latter work, which refers back to an earlier period, In Bretach is described as one of the four chief tribes of the Monaigh, a population group who in early Christian times were settled in Fermanagh as well as in east Down. The form of the place-name, which in both sources contains the definite article in (Mod. Ir. an), suggests that it was originally a territorial name rather than a tribal one. The Old Irish word brétach is defined in the Dictionary of the Irish Language as ‘broken pieces, fragments, breakage’ and In Brétach (Mod. Ir. An Bhréadach) appears to signify something like ‘the broken land/fragmented or partitioned land’, or possibly ‘the cut, the narrow glen’.


McKay, P. (2007) A Dictionary of Ulster Place-Names, p.28; PMcK, 2009;

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference

An Bhréadach ""the fragmentary land""

1991NIPNP posters Belfast

Bréadach ""broken land""

1999Dict. Ulst. PN 92

An Bhréadach ""the broken land/fragmented land""

2000NIPNP replies PMcK/GMcC
Castlereagh Upper
Parish in 1851
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