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Rathgill, County Down

Origin

Ir. Ráth Giall ‘fort of (the) hostages’

Background

The first element of Rathgill is definitely ráth ‘a fort’. O’Laverty (ii 130) informs us that the rath at Rathgill extended over two acres and that its site was occupied by Rathgael House, which itself was demolished in 1960. O’Donovan suggests (AFM i 242) that Rathgill is to be identifed with Ráth Guala which was burned by the Ulster king Fiachnae mac Báetáin (died 626) in 618. While this suggestion is worthy of consideration, the second element of Rathgill is more likely to derive from giall ‘hostage’.  The most common local pronunciation of the second element of this name is gale, a reasonable approximation of the pronunciation of our suggested Irish form.  The official spelling of the name of this townland is Rathgill, a form which no doubt prompted O’Donovan to suggest the interpretation Ráth Gaill ‘fort of the foreigner’ as an alternative to the aforementioned Ráth GualaGuala’s fort’. The spelling Rathgael is still in frequent use as an alternative to Rathgill, even on DOE road signs, no doubt due to the influence of Rathgael House.

References

Hannan R. J. (1992): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. 2 p. 166

Additional Information

also spelt Rathgael, as in Rathgael Villas 6637

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference

(?) Rath nGuala, ro gab tene

0618AFM i 242

(?)Ráth nGuala do loscadh

0618AFM i 242

(?) Raith nGuaili, ro gab tene

0623AU (Mac Airt) 112

(?) Ratho Guali, expugnatio

0623AU (Mac Airt) 112

Carrogh-Raloghele

1604CPR Jas I 38a

Rawgeile

1605CPR Jas I 72b

Rawgele al Ballifraghoguile

1605Inq. Ult. (Down) $2 Jac. I

Rawgeile al Ballyfragheguile

1620Ham. Patent [1620] xx

Rawgeile al Ballyfragheguile

1620Ham. Patent [1620] xx

Ballekawgeile or Ballefraghoguile

1630Ham. Patent [1630] xi

(?)Ballerangeile al Ballefyanghognile

1645Inq. Ult. (Down) $104 Car. I

Rafegill

1655cCiv. Surv. x $68

Rafgill

1659cCensus 1659 94

Rafgill 3 quarters

1661BSD 90

Rathgill

1810Wm. Map (OSNB) No. 54

Rathgill

1830cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) No. 54

Rathgill

1830cGrand Jury Pres. (OSNB) No. 54

Rath Gaill "fort of the foreigner"

1834cJ O'D (OSNB) No. 54

Rath Guala

1834cJ O'D (OSNB) No. 54

Rath-Guala

1880O'Laverty ii 131
Barony
Ards Lower
Parish
Bangor
Parish in 1851
Bangor
Townland
None
Place name ID
17753
Place name type
T