Lordship of Newry, County Down
Ir. An tIúr ‘the yew tree’
The barony of Lordship of Newry is considerably smaller than the parish of Newry. Unlike the parish, which includes part of Co. Armagh, Lordship of Newry is wholly within Co. Down. Thirty-six of the parish's forty-nine townlands are contained in the Lordship.
The name Newry is particularly well-documented in native Irish sources where the earliest form seems to have been Iubhar Cinn Tráchta (modern Iúr Cinn Tráchta). Harris translates this as ‘the flourishing Head of a Yew-Tree’ (Harris Hist. 90) but it is doubtless synonymous with the later form Iubhar Cinn Trágha (Iúr Cinn Trá) ‘the yew of the head of the strand’. It was also called an tIubhar (an tIúr) ‘the yew’.
The anglicized forms of the name must, however, come from an Iubhraigh (modern an Iúraigh), an oblique form of an Iubhrach (modern an Iúrach) ‘the grove of yew trees’. This form, despite the fact that the anglicized form of the name derives from it, does not, with one possible exception, appear in Irish-language sources. In an early 15th-century poem by Tuathal Ó hUiginn, Niall Garbh Ó Domhnaill, Lord of Tír Chonaill, is portrayed coming ‘ón Iobhraidh’ (from an Iúrach) after a raid on Baile Uí Bruin (Ad. Dána 85 §26) but, unfortunately, this instance of the name cannot be certainly connected to Newry. Indeed, an Iúrach was the name of the stronghold of Rughraidhe mac Ardghail mac Mahon who is probably the chieftain whose death is recorded in the Annals of the Four Masters under the year 1446, and it is very probably this house, rather than the settlement at Newry, which was attacked by Niall Garbh (Gwynn Cat. 208).
According to Reeves, Newry was sometimes latinized Ivorium and Nevoracum but it is more frequently called Viride Lignum (EA 116n). Atkinson is doubtless correct in concluding that Viride Lignum, which he translates as ‘Green Tree’, refers to the evergreen character of the yews associated with the monastery at Newry (Atkinson's Dromore 7). The Cistercians were fond of giving their monasteries clever, often paradoxical, Latin names such as (de) Melle Fonte ‘honey spring’ (Mellifont) and de Petra Fertile ‘fertile rock’ (Corcomroe), and Viride Lignum represents a further example of their ingenuity.
ReferencesToner, G. (1992): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. I p. 3-5
See the town of Newry for historical forms of this name. See also the parish of Newry.
Historical name form
- Lordship of Newry
- Parish in 1851
- Place name ID
- Place name type