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Clonduff Parish, County Down


Ir. Cluain Daimh 'meadow of the ox'


The civil parish of Clonduff is situated in the barony of Upper Iveagh and contains over 21,227 acres (Census 1871).  It is bounded by the parishes of Kilcoo, Kilkeel, Kilbroney, Clonallan, Drumgath, Drumballyroney and Drumgooland.  The Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic ecclesiastical parishes are co-extensive and are both located in their respective dioceses of Dromore. 

Although the Anglican incumbent is traditionally rector of "the four towns of Clonduff" (i.e. Ballyaughian, Ballynanny, Ballymaghery and Leitrim), he is merely vicar of the other twenty two.  These four townlands are old church lands granted to the see of Dromore in 1611.  Lewis, writing in 1837, notes that at that time they came within the jurisdiction of the bishop's court at Dromore whereas the other townlands came within the jurisdiction of the manorial court of Rathfriland (Lewis' Top. Dict. i 356).

The old church of Clonduff is located in the townland of Ballyaughian.  It is believed to be of 16th-/17th-century date (ASCD 299) and is said to have been destroyed in the war of 1641 (Lewis' Top. Dict. ii 5).1  As with the old church of Clonallan, Ballyaughian was used as a burial place by the Magennises (ASCD 299) who formerly had a residence at Cabragh.  Some of the last members of the senior branch of the O'Neills are also said to have been buried here in 1809 (Lewis' Top. Dict. i 356).

Clonduff clearly derives from Irish Cluain Daimh "meadow of the ox".  It is attested in Irish-language documentation of an ecclesiastical nature (the earliest being The Martyrology of Gorman, Dec. 26, p. 246n) where it is associated with one Saint Mo Chommóg (see Ballynanny).  There seems to have been a body of legend relating to the origin of the name and as far back as 1834 O'Donovan claimed to have heard a "wonderful story of an ox" in the locality (OSNB E207).  This may well be the story recorded by Evans in relation to the origin of the minor name Bushtown:  

The time they were building Clonduff Chapel long ago a bull used to come every night and knock down all they had built the day before, till at last the priest took his stick and beat the bull off and chased him half a mile away.  And then the priest stuck his stick in the ground and said: `You'll hardly come back past that!'  And back the bull never come, and the stick took root and grew into the fairy thorns (Evans' Mourne 204).  

The earliest anglicized form of Clonduff is Clondyme in c. 1306 (Eccles. Tax 114).  Similar forms are found elsewhere in medieval ecclesiastical documentation but there is also a latinised form Clonduffi from 1461 (Reg. Prene (EA) 115) and a similar form Clonduff(e) from 1546 (Reg. Dowdall).  In later administrative documents of the 16th and 17th centuries the name is often spelt Clonnyfe (Ex. Inq. 3 Ed. VI 13) et var. which points to assimilation of the initial d- of daimh to the preceding -n of cluain.  We have seen a similar development in the case of the neighbouring parish name Clonallan, Irish Cluain Dalláin, but whereas the assimilation became established in the anglicized forms of the latter it disappears from the historical forms of Clonduff after 1679.  From the beginning of the 17th century forms such as Clanduff(e) gain currency, and in a couple of sources the assimilated and restored forms are found side by side: Clanduff al. Clonuff (e.g. Inq. Ult. (Down) §2 Jac. I).  Clonduff, therefore, was the form accepted by John O'Donovan in 1834 (OSNB E207).  

On many of the early maps Clonduff church is called The Eight Mile Church.  This name is clearly related to that of a bridge over the river Bann close to the village of Hilltown called the Eight Mile Bridge.  It is believed to derive its name from the fact that it is 8 Irish miles from Newry (Atkinson's Dromore 263).


Ó Mainní­n, M. (1993): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. 3 p. 69-76.

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference
~mo Commóc (Clúana daimh i n-Uibh Eachach Uladh)1170cMart. Gorm. Dec. 26 p246n
Clondyme, Ecclesia de1306cEccles. Tax. 114
Clondam, Eccl. de1422Reg. Dowdall $129 275
Cluaindaym, rectoria parrochialis ecclesie de1429cAnnates Ulst. 290
Clonduffi, vicarage of1461Reg. Prene (EA) 115
Cluandam, rect. de1476Reg. Sixt. IV (Annates) 296
Cluayndaym, rect. cap. de1530Reg. Clem. VII (Annates) 297
Clonduff, Rector of1546Reg. Dowdall $113 80
Clonduffe, Rector de1546Reg. Dowdall (EA) 318
Clonnyfe, vill'' de1549Ex. Inq. (Dn) 3 Ed. VI 13
Clonnyfe, rectory of1585Fiants Eliz. $4788
the 8 mile churche1590cJobson's Ulster (TCD) 17
Clonnyf, the rectory of1594Fiants Eliz. $5867
Clonnyffe, the tithes of1594Fiants Eliz. $5867
Clanduff[?] Eight myle church1600Bartlett Map (BM)
Clanduffe the eight mile churche1601Bartlett Map (TCD)
Clanduff or the 8 myle churche1603Bartlett Maps (Esch. Co. Maps) 1
Clanduffe called the 8-mile-Churche1603Bartlett Maps (Esch. Co. Maps) 2
Clanduffe1604CPR Jas I 38b
Clanduff al. Clonuff1605Inq. Ult. (Down) $2 Jac. I
Clanduffe1605CPR Jas I 73a
Clonduffe or the 8 mile churche1610cNorden's Map
Clanuff1611CPR Jas I 190b
Clonuff1614CPR Jas I 255a
Clonuffe1614CPR Jas I 266a
Clonduffe1623CPR Jas I 305a
~Chluain-Daimh, Naomhta Mochumog o1630cMart. Don.
~Cluana daimh, Mochummócc1630cMart. Don. Dec 26(t) p450
~Cluana daimh, i nUibh Eachach Uladh, Mochummocc1630cMart. Don. Dec 26 p348
Clonuff, rector'' de1633Ex. Inq. (Dn) 8 Car. I (DF)
Clonuffe, vill'' de1633Ex. Inq. (Dn) 8 Car. I (DF)
Clonuff, rector'' de1644cInq. Ult. (Down) $104 Car. I
~Cluain-daimh, in regione. Luechiae (r. Hiuechia)1645Acta SS Colgan 598; 874
Clonnuffe1657Inq. Down (Reeves1) 95
Cloneduff, parish of1657cHib. Reg. Up. Iveagh
Clonduffe1659cCensus 1659 76
Clanuffe Rectoria1661Trien. Visit. (Bramhall) 16
Clonduffe Parish1661BSD 109
Clonuffe, rector'' de1662Inq. Ult. (Down) $23 Car. II
Clonuffe1664Trien. Visit. (Margetson) 26
Cloneduffe1672cHib. Del. Down
Clonuffe vicaria1679Trien. Visit. (Boyle) 47, 49
Clanduff1744Map of Down (OSNB) E207
Clonduffe < Eccles. Annals1757OSNB: gen. sources E207
Clanduff1767Map of Down (OSNB) E207
Clonduff < Dubourdieu''s Map1802OSNB: gen. sources E207
Clanduff1810Wm. Map (OSNB) E207
Clanduff1830cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) E207
Clonduff1834cJ O'D (OSNB) E207
~Cluain daimh ""Lawn or meadow of the ox""1834cOSNB: gen. sources E207
~Cluain daimh1950cMooney 1950c 55
~Mo Chommóc830cFél. Óeng. Dec 26 p262
~.i. Coman mac Faelchon o Rus comain a Maig A\eLFél. Óeng. Dec. 26 p262n
Iveagh Up., Lr. Half
Parish in 1851
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