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County Down, County Down

Origin

Ir. An Dún 'the fort'

Background

The county of Down, like the parish of Down, is named from a fort around which the town of Downpatrick developed.  The original Ir. name for Downpatrick was Dún Lethglaise perhaps ‘fort of the side of the stream’. The fort was a prehistoric ring-fort which formerly stood on Cathedral Hill and within which was constructed an early monastery and the later church and abbey of St Patrick. The stream in question can only be the river Quoile which flows close to the bottom of Cathedral Hill. Dún da Lethglas is also found as an earlier name for the settlement at Downpatrick and while it is obviously connected with the form Dún Lethglaise, the exact nature of the relationship is obscure. The modern name Dún Pádraig (whence Downpatrick) is not attested prior to the 17th century. Prior to this in English the town was usually known simply as Down (or Downe), which has been retained as the name of the parish and county.

References

PMcK, 2009; with additions PT, 2012.

Additional Information

See the town of Downpatrick for historical forms of this name. See also the parish of Down and the townland of Demesne of Down.

Historical name form

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Barony
None
Parish
county
Parish in 1851
county
Townland
None
Place name ID
35300
Place name type
CY