Placenamesni.orgthe history behind our place-names

Buskhill, County Down


perhaps Ir. An Bhascoill  ‘the round wood’


Cowan suggests that this name goes back to Baile na Bascaille ‘the townland of the hind, deer’ but this explanation is not without difficulties.  As early as the 17th century we find forms without the baile element but it is extremely unlikely that a simple animal name could stand on its own as a place-name.  In addition, the stress in bascall would fall on the first element whereas the current pronunciation shows even stress, suggesting that we may be dealing with a loose compound although it is quite possible that the stress shifted by analogy with names in English ending in ‘hill’ (cf. Forkhill from Irish oirceall).

What appears to be the same name is found in the Co. Limerick townland of Boskill for which the Place-names Office in Dublin supplies a transliterated form Boscail (Ó Maolfabhail 1990, 72).  The historical forms are similar to those for our townland of Buskhill save that they show no trace of the element baile (thus further weakening Cowan’s suggestion).  We might tentatively suggest an original Irish form Baschoill from bas ‘hand’ and coill ‘wood’While this etymology is consistent with the forms for the townlands in Limerick, Donegal and Down it does not provide very good sense.  Dinneen gives the definition ‘anything flat’ for bas but in his actual examples it is applied more specifically to small objects such as ‘the blade of an oar, a hurley’ etc.  In compounds its sense is invariably ‘hand, paw’ etc. and this can hardly be the meaning in the place-name.  Moreover, there is no evidence of the use of bas in place-names.  The most likely derivation is, perhaps, from basc, which, although not widely attested, appears to have had the meaning ‘round, circular’ (DIL sv. 2 basc), and coill ‘a wood’.  The compounding of the final c in basc with the initial c of coill would cause the latter to be delenited (GOI 86).


Toner, G. (1992): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. I p. 95

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference

Baile na Bascaille ''The town of the hind or deer''

1914Cowan's Donaghmore 42
Ballinebaskillye1609CPR Jas I 395b
Ballinebaskilly1611CPR Jas I 197a
Ballynebaskely1612CPR Jas I 235a
Boskill otherwise Vaskill1615CPR Jas I 274b
Boskyll al. Vaskyll1620CPR Jas I 479a
Rosskill1661BSD 104
Boskill1810Wm. Map (OSNB) 60
Buskhill1830cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) 60
[''Busk-ill]1834cOSNB: gen. sources 60
Iveagh Up., Up. Half
Parish in 1851
Place name ID
Place name type