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Moynagh, County Tyrone


Ir. Maothnach 'soft land' (also considered Maothánach 'land abounding in twigs')


The stress in the current local pronunciation is on the first syllable. While a case might be made, on the evidence of the early documentation, for forward stress-shifting (in that the forms from 1610, 1687 and 1742 could be read as if stressed on the second syllable), the documentation is so light that such a case would amount to no more than speculation. Minagh (1666) would suggest initial stress.

On the whole, I am inclined to see the current stress as the historical form and to discount Magh n-each (O.S.N.B) which would necessitate final stress, as a tenable solution. Furthermore, the element magh (suggested by Moy-) is totally unsuited to the physical nature of the townland. Moynagh is a very small townland (111 acres) rising to a height of 300 feet. There is no significant tract of land within it that could relate to magh

I suggest that the name derives from maoth 'moist, soft' (perhaps maothnach/maothánach although I have no authority for these forms). On the first edition of the O.S. 6" map (1834 A.D.) is entered a tract of bog in the south-west of the townland (an extension of the bog of neighbouring Annaghquin) and some evidence of draining. The bog may originally have been extensive. (A neighbouring area in Ballynakilly townland which lies to the north of Moynagh, is liable to flooding from the Rock River.) For maoth applied to soft, spongy land cf. Joyce's discusiion of maethail (< maeth) (vol. I, p. 465) and R.I.A. Contrib. s.v. maethal: "In n.l. of soft or boggy ground see Hog. Onom. s.v. maothail". Cf. also Dinneen s.v. maoth-: "maoth-claidhe, an uncultivated strip forming a boundary between two plots".

Another possible solution to Moynagh may be the word moathán 'a tender shoot, twig, etc.' (R.I.A. Contrib. s.v. maethán (b) and Dinneen s.v. maothán ) assuming a derived form maothánach, 'land abounding in twigs'. Moynagh adjoins Ballynakilly (Baile na Coille) and there is a patch of what seems to be native woodland entered on the first edition of the O.S. 6" map (1834 A.D.) near to the main habitation area in the townland. 


McCann (1982, 123-124)

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference
Moyneagh1687Lodge RR !
Mornagh1742Reg. Deeds (McCann) Vol.106/282
Moynagh [''Moynagh]1835cOSNB: gen. sources D24no43
Munagh1835cOSNB: gen. sources D24no43
~Magh nEach ""plain of the horses""1835cJ O'D (OSNB) D24no43
~magh n-each ""Plain where horses graze""1936TNCT 27
(?)Maoth√°nach ""land abounding in twigs""1982Mc Cann H.P. 1982 123
Maothnach ""soft land""1982Mc Cann H.P. 1982 123
Dungannon Upper
Parish in 1851
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