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Gortagowan, County Tyrone


Ir. Gort na nGamhna 'field of the calves'


Although the local pronunciation would seem to represent Gort Uí Ghabhainn 'O'Gowan's field' (a form also postulated by the O.S.N.B), this is most unlikely to be the correct rendering of the name. The documentation represents a predominant occurrence of the article in the name.

On surface appearance, the early documentation represents the article as a feminine genitive singular. However gamhain 'calf' is a masculine noun. This leads me to conclude that the second and final elements are, respectively, the genitive plural article and the genitive plural gamhna from gamhain. It is noticeable that the documentation does not represent the genitive plural article followed by nasalisation in the early forms. However, ng particularly in the initial position in the element gave difficulty to English scribes; Dún na nGall is always anglicised Donegal and Baile na nGall  (A.G.B.P., 61) in Co. Kerry is anglicised Ballynagall.

Assuming Gortnegownagh (et var.) does represent Gort na nGamhna, some of the spelling forms may be seen to indicate a genitive plural gamhnach, although the anglicisation of unstressed syllables is not always a reliable indicator.

I have also considered Gort na Gamhnaí (< gamhnach f. 'stripper') but the ending is at variance with the early anglicised spelling forms. It might also be noted that gamhnach is not attested in Tyrone Irish, while gamhain fireann 'male calf' and gamhainn baineann are recorded (Stockman, G. and Wagner, H., op. cit., 80).

Another noticeable feature in the documentation is the gradual loss of the final syllable. The final syllable is strongly represented in the greater part of the 17th century. However, by the 18th century the final syllable has fallen out of use (except for a recurrence in 1744 and 1807).


McCann (1982, 78-79)

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference
gortnegawnah1609Esch. Co. Map 12 Dunganon pt
Gortnegawnagh1610CPR Jas I 163b
Kilnegar 2 b''bos1610CPR Jas I 163b
Gortnagawnagh1630Lodge RR 1A 53,54,247
Gortnegawnagh1630Ex. Inq. (Tyr) Car.I $5
Killnegarr alias Lisnean1630Ex. Inq. (Tyr) Car.I $5
Gortnegamuna1655cCiv. Surv. p.261,302
Lissnanean1655cCiv. Surv. 261,302
Lissnenean1655cCiv. Surv. 261
Gortnagamuna1661BSDc !
Gortnegaven1664HMR Tyr. (1) 2
Gortnegoune1666HMR Tyr. (2) 234
Lisnenean1666HMR Tyr. (2) 234
Lisnanean1680BSDc !
Gortuagonan1710Reg. Deeds (McCann) Vol.4/467
Gortnagown1716Reg. Deeds (McCann) Vol.16/279
Lisnane1736Reg. Deeds (McCann) Lib.81/547
Lisnanein, Lisneane1736Reg. Deeds (McCann) Lib.86/343
Gortagownagh othw Gortnagavan1744Reg. Deeds (McCann) Vol.114/529
Gortnagounagh/Gortnagavin/Gortega[?]nnan1807Reg. Deeds (McCann) Vol.626/162
Killegarre othw Culligur/Lysnean/ Lisnane1807Reg. Deeds (McCann) Lib.587/402
Lisinanane1809Reg. Deeds (McCann) Lib.602/509
Gortagowan1835cOSNB: gen. sources D24no43
Gortygowan1835cOSNB: gen. sources D24no43
Lisnanane [Lisna''nane]1835cOSNB: gen. sources D24no43
~Gort Ui/ Gobhainn ""O''Gowan''s field""1835cJ O'D (OSNB) D24no43
~Lios na nE/an ""fort of the birds""1835cJ O'D (OSNB) D24no43
~gort a'' ghabhann ""Field of the blacksmith""1936TNCT 27
Gort an nGamhna ""field of the calves""1982Mc Cann H.P. 1982 78
~Ard Tré ""Tré''s height""1999Dict. Ulst. PN 8
Dungannon Upper
Parish in 1851
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