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Kilmegan Parish (Lecale Upper portion), County Down


Ir. poss. Cill Bheagáin or Cill M’Aodhagáin 'church of Beagán / M’Aodhagáin'


The civil parish of Kilmegan stretches from Dundrum in the east to Castlewellan in the west and its 17 townlands are spread throughout the three baronies of Lecale, Upper Iveagh and Kinelarty. 

The general absence of the parish name from the early written record is doubtless due to its subsidiary dependence on the church at Kilkeel which had under it several tributary chapels including the rectories of Kilcoo and Kilmegan (EA 27 citing Reg. Cromer fol. 473).  This is particularly unfortunate as the lack of early spellings of the name makes it difficult to decipher it origin and meaning.  The first element is almost certainly Irish cill ‘a church’ and the general pattern of cill-names would tend to suggest that the second element is a saint's name, although we cannot be certain of its form, let alone the identity of the bearer of the name.  Perhaps the most likely origin lies in the personal name Beagán, which was borne by several saints (Ó Corráin & Maguire 1981, 30).  Confusion between initial m and b could easily arise in Irish where lenition of an initial b would give a sound [v] not immensely different from a lenited m, or where a nasalized b regularly gives [m]. Another possibility is a hypochoristic name beginning in mo 'my (dear)', such as M’Aodhagán, 'my (dear) little Aodh'.


GT, 1993; with additions KM 2009

Additional Information

Other portion in Iveagh Up., Lr. Half and Kinelarty

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference

Cill Mhiagáin, ''St Megan's church''

1834cJ O'D (OSNB) 142
Killmighan1609Jas I to Down Cath. 179
Kilmegan1622Ulster Visit. Reeves 27
Killmegan1657Inq. Down (Reeves1) 103
Killmegan1657cHib. Reg. Up. Iveagh
Killnegni Parish1657cHib. Reg. Kinelarty
Kilmegan Parish1657cHib. Reg. Lecale
Kilemeagn1659cCensus 1659 77
Killingan1659cCensus 1659 76
Killmeagan1659cCensus 1659 70
Killmogan 1 towne1661BSD 97
Kilmegan Parish1661BSD 106
Kilmegan Parish1661BSD 97
Kilmegan (x2)1672cHib. Del. Down
Kilmegan1767Map of Down (OSNB) 142
Kilmegan1810Wm. Map (OSNB) 142
Kilmagan1823Atkinson's Ireland 187
Kilmegan1834cJ O'D (OSNB) 142
[Kil ''Maygin]1834cOSNB: gen. sources 142
Lecale Upper
Parish in 1851
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