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Acravally, County Antrim


Ir. Of uncertain origin


Acra “acre” would indeed appear to be the first element in the name of this (31 acre (Census 1851)) townland. This element occurs elsewhere locally in a variant form in the subtownland name of Glaic an (Dá) Acair “the hollow of the (two) acre(s)” in Ballygill South in Rathlin (Place-Names of Rathlin 52). However, we could also consider that it appears here in a calcified plural dative form, acraibh

The second element suggested is bile “(sacred) tree” (cf. Toberbilly in Ramoan). The lenition of the initial consonant of the second element could be ascribed to the regular use of the place-name in oblique cases. The historical variants generally imply a lower vowel than the [i] associated with modern and historical forms of other local place-names which contain bile (such as Toberbilly). The final element in the south-west Co. Antrim townland name ofÉadan an Bhile (anglicized Edenvale), has exhibited some fronting of the central vowel (PNI iv 150). In Antrim Irish, [i] sometimes developed to [i] (see Drumnakeel), but in the absence of similar forms, Achraveelie (1741c) must be regarded as anomolous. Those forms which do not feature a vowel following the final l, and some of which feature a u for av, come from related sources and indicate copies of misspellings. The absence of the final vowel in early forms could be due to its unstressed position. This would suggest that the final element ended with the central [ə] vowel: Irish -e or -a.Furtherpossible final forms may include baile “townland” (baile is rare in final position; see Drumbally Hill in PNI vi 136; compare also forms of Aughnasillagh), báille “bailiff”, and perhaps the surname Mailleach, “a sept of the Scottish clan MacGregor [angl. Mallagh], found in north-east Ulster” (MacLysaght 1985, 206) and bealach “road, track”. The historical evidence is conflicting, however; there is a possibility that the name was latterly reinterpreted.

  On the Down Survey parish map (DS (Par. Map)), Acravally was divided into Acrevell and Crosalista. The latter form, which recurs in forms Crosallister, part of (1657c),Crossalister (1663) and Cossalister (1668), may be based on Cros Alastair “Alastar’s cross(-road?)”. Alastar is a borrowing of the Greek name Alexander brought into Ireland from Scotland, being popular with Scoto-Irish families including the MacDonnells and MacDowells (Ó Corráin & Maguire 1981, 21-2).      


(info. from Mac Gabhann, F. (1997): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. 7 p. 108)

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference
Acrevell, Crosalista1657cDS (Par. Map) 55
Acruell1657cHib. Reg. Cary
Crosallister, part of1657cDS (Par. Map) 56
Acruell, Crossalister1663Lapsed Money Book 155
Acrevell1666ASE 116a
Acrevell, Cossalister1668ASE 116a $19
Acruell1700Ant. Forfeit.
Achrevilly1734Stewart's Survey 6
Achrulla1734Religious Survey
Achraveelie1741cHill's Stewarts 220
Acrevally1780Lendrick Map (OSNB) B 24 B 37
Ackravally1812PRONI D2977/3A/2 /1/40
Accrevelly1830Bnd. Sur. (OSNB) B 24 B 37
Acra bhile ""acre of the1831J O'D (OSNB) B 24 B 37
old tree""1831J O'D (OSNB) B 24 B 37
Acrevally1833Tithe Applot. 2
Acra bhile ""acre of the1923Rev. Magill 5
old tree""1923Rev. Magill 5
Acraville Acra Bhile ""Field of the Quagmire""1934Magill's Antrim 62
Acra bhile ""field of the1981Dallat's Culfeightrin 34
ancient pagan tree""1981Dallat's Culfeightrin 34
Parish in 1851
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