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Lisoneill, County Fermanagh


Ir. Lios Néill “O’Neill’s fort”


The townland of Lisoneill incorporates most of the modern town of Lisnaskea.

The name of the townland is quite transparent, representing Irish Lios Uí Néill “O’Neill’s fort” as previously suggested.  The main branch of the family of O’Neill originated in Co. Tyrone, but the surname is now numerous throughout Ireland (MacLysaght 1985, 234).

The Northern Ireland Sites and Monuments Record records “Rath (remains of)” in Lisoneill (NISMR sh. 246) and this may be the feature referred to in the first element of the place-name.  However Livingstone (op. cit. 411) argues that the fort referred to in Lisoneill is likely to be Sciath Ghabhra or “the Moate Fort” in the neighbouring townland of Cornashee.  In support of this opinion he cites a reference to Lisoneill at the beginning of the 17th century when the pro-English Conor Rua Maguire was retreating from Cúchonnacht, the Maguire chief against whom he had fought during the Nine Years War:

“In his retreat Conor Rua rested at Lios Uí Néill which Philip O’Sullivan described as ‘a deserted old fort, constructed of small stones, surrounded by a fosse, covered with tall trees at the edge, and known to the natives as ‘O’Neill’s Stronghold’ because in it O’Neill used to inaugurate Maguire’”.

It is impossible to say with certainty if the fortress described by Philip O’Sullivan (i.e. O’Sullivan of Beare in Cork who had fought alongside Conor Rua Maguire in 1602) is to be identified with the Moate Fort.  If the generally-accepted opinion that the latter was the inauguration mound of the Maguires is accurate then it provides powerful support for the suggestion.  In any case, the tradition recorded in 1602 that the Maguire chiefains were inaugurated by the O’Neills is supported by the fact that even though the Maguires were for many years subservient to the O’Donnells of Donegal, from the early 15th  century onwards the Lisnaskea senior branch were underlords to the O’Neills of Tyrone (Herbert 2001, 33).

In 1680, Lisneale appears as the name of one of three small denominations which make up the larger district or “quarter” of Cornashee.

Lirneskeahill (1659c) appears to represent a combination of Lisoneill and Lisnaskea (seeLisnaskea).


(info. from McKay, P. (2004): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. 8 p. 143)

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference
(?)Lagganyle, Ardagh al.1620CPR Jas I 482b
Laughlan al. Leseneale1620CPR Jas I 482b
Lisneale1680BSD (Ó Maolagáin) 542
Lisoneil1817GJM M'stephana (OSNB) B62
Liseaneal1824HC Sur.& Val.(OSNB) B62
Lisaneel1830cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) B62
Lisaneil1830cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) B62
Lisaneel1833Mr Buck's Letter (OSNB) B62
Lisseneal1834cSur. & Val. Lisnaskea Est. (OSNB) B62
~Lios Uí Neill ""O''Neill''s fort""1834cDonnell Maguire (OSNB) B62
Lisoneill1862Griffith's Val.
~Lios Uí Néill ""O''Neill''s fort""1999Dict. Ulst. PN 97
Lios Uí Néill ""O''Neill''s fort""2002Culture NI PNN PMcK/JP
Parish in 1851
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