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Clay, County Down


Ir. An Chléith ‘the hurdle’


The townland of Clay is in two portions to the north of the village of Killyleagh, while at the south end of the main portion is the complex watery area called the Clea Lakes, containing a crannog.  There is also a fort in the north at the point where the townlands of Ballygoskin, Lissinaw and Clay meet (LGD map).  The Raven maps of Clandeboye refer to both Clay and Lough Clay (1625), and despite the difference in spelling, the Clea lakes appear to be named from the same word as the townland.  Given that crannogs were often constructed on a wooden framework, the reference is probably the word cliath ‘framework, hurdle’, here used in its locative form, as in the townland of Clay, in Annaclone (PNI vi 70).  In 1661 the name Clay was partnered with Lisduffe (BSD) which appears in the Hamilton MSS as a local townland name. The name Lios Dubh ‘the black fort’ could refer to the fort in the north.


KM, 2009

Additional Information

cf. Clea Lakes 13026. Has detached portion (63a1r3)

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference
Ballicley'' al. Clegh1605Inq. Ult. (Down) $1 Jac. I
Ballycley otherwise Cleigh1624CPR Jas I 587b
Clay1625cRaven Map Clandeboye 64,70,72
Lough Clay1625cRaven Map Clandeboye 63, 69, 70
Balleclaye al. Ballecleigh1645Inq. Ult. (Down) $104 Car. I
Clay, Lisduffe &1661BSD 63
Ballelerge al. Ballecleighe1662Inq. Ult. (Down) $23 Car. II
Clay1663Sub. Roll Down 289
Parish in 1851
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