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Ards Upper, County Down


Ir. Aird Uladh 'promontory of the Ulaidh or Ulstermen' + Eng. upper


In the seventh and eighth centuries the Ards peninsula was known as Aird Ua nEchach ‘peninsula of the Uí Echach (tribe)’. After the Uí Echach were conquered by the Vikings in the ninth century their name disappeared from the place-name and was replaced by Uladh, i.e. ‘of the Ulstermen’. The northern portion of the peninsula forms the barony of Ards Lower while the southern portion forms the barony Ards Upper. The name of the peninsula forms the final element of the name of the town of Newtownards.

It is clear from the historical forms that the barony was divided into two portions, Great Ardes and Little Ardes, at least as early as 1586.  This division does not correspond exactly to the modern barony division of Ards Upper and Lower, as three parishes formerly belonging to the Great Ardes have since been added to Ards Upper.


McKay, P. (1999): A Dictionary of Ulster Place-Names, p. 7; Hannan R. J. (1992): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. 2 p. 1-4 (where the name is discussed in further detail).

Additional Information

For historical forms of the name Ards not applying specifically to the baronies, see Ards Peninsula

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference

Little Ardes

1586Cal. Carew MSS 436

Little ardes

1590Jobson's Ulster (TCD)

Little Ardes, the

1591Fiants Eliz. §5590

Little Ardes

1602Fiants Eliz. §6712

little Ards

1602Fiants Eliz. §6711

in little Ardes

1605Inq. Ult. (Down) §2 Jac. I

in the Little Ardes

1605CPR Jas I 84b

le little Ardes

1605Inq. Ult. (Down) §2 Jac. I

Little Ards

1610cNorden's Map

the Little Ardes

1622CPR Jas I 548b

lez little Ardes

1627Inq. Ult. (Down) §10 Car. I

le little Ards

1644Inq. Ult. (Down) §104
Ards Upper
Parish in 1851
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