Placenamesni.orgthe history behind our place-names

Ballynarea, County Armagh


perhaps Ir. Baile na Réidhe ‘townland of the level plain’


The earliest record of this name makes reference to a Ree River. While the western boundary of the townland is marked by a river named County Water, there and are no documentary references to a Ree River. The medial syllable, -na- across the forms strongly indicates the presence of the definite article na which could introduce a qualifying noun, either plural or a feminine singular. The pronunciation of the second element is unclear between [i] and [a]. One possible qualifying element from which [i] might emerge is riabhach, which means ‘greyish’ or ‘brindled’ and, although adjectival, the form can appear independently, anglicised Reagh or Ree and is interpreted as ‘grey lands’ (Joyce ii, 283). With this qualifying element, the original form might be Baile na Riabhach ‘town of the grey lands’. Another form with this pronunciation might be Baile na Rithe ‘townland of the kings.

If it is the case that the modern name features the [a] vowel sound, the qualifying element might be ‘stretch of ground, level ground’ (Ó Dónaill) in the form Baile na Ré ‘townland of the level ground’. Similarly, the element réidh can signify a plain and is usually applied to a mountain flat, or a coarse, moory level piece of land among hills, although this element is more commonly applied in the south of Ireland than elsewhere (Joyce i, 426). However, this element is attested elsewhere in the same County. Annareagh, in the parish of Kilmore derives from Achadh na Réidhe ‘field of the level plain’. Although confirmation of local pronunciation of this name would be required to confirm this name as the original form, it is the most satisfactory proposal based on the evidence available.



Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference
the Ree, river of1587cCSP Ire. 1586-1588 334
Ballinarea als. Ballyduffneragh or Ballynery1655cCromwell Confisc. 29
Ballynarea al. Ballyenragh and Ballinarea and Ball1655cCromwell Confisc. 29
Ballinery1657cHib. Reg. Fewes
Ballynarea1659cCen. Fews 1659 33
Ballynarea1659cCensus 1659 32
Ballinery1661Hib. Del. 28
Ballynery1661BSD 12
Ballynarea1664HMR Murray (1941) 163
Ballyenragh or Ballinarea1667ASE 130a
Ballinduffineragh al. Ballynery1669ASE 216b
Ballynarea x21766Families Creggan 42,46
Ballynarea1830cRet. Tds Armstrong's Sur. (OSNB) A/E62,A/E44
Ballynarea1830cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) A/E62,A/E44
Baile na Rae ""Town of the Mountain Flat""1834cJ O'D (OSNB) A/E62,A/E44
Ballynarea1834cClergyman (OSNB) A/E62,A/E44
Ballynarea1834cOSNB: gen. sources A/E62,A/E44
Fews Upper
Parish in 1851
Place name ID
Place name type