Placenamesni.orgthe history behind our place-names

Gortgill, County Antrim

Origin

Ir. Baile an Ghoirt Ghil ‘townland of the white/fallow field’ 

Background

This was one of the four Church townlands of the parish of Duneane, and, as such, documentation of the name is scarcer than usual.  O'Donovan's Irish form, i.e. Gort Geal ‘white field’ is broadly acceptable, except that it is unlikely that the radical form of the adjective geal ‘white/bright’ would be anglicized as ‘-gill’.  One could therefore argue in favour of Joyce's Irish form Gort Gile which literally means ‘field of whiteness’, the final element being the genitive form of the abstract noun gile ‘whiteness/brightness’.  However, a more plausible explanation appears to be that the name of the townland goes back to the Irish form Baile an Ghoirt Ghil ‘townland of the white field’, as suggested by forms Ballygortgill (1657c, 1661, 1672c) and Balligertgill (1657c) and that even though the element baile was later lost, the form of the adjective was left fossilized in the genitive.  Ó Dónaill lists the literary term gort geal, meaning ‘fallow field’, while DIL gives the phrase: gort geal nach bí fa barr ‘a field lying fallow(?)’ (DIL sv. gel), suggesting that when applied to the landscape the adjective geal may have connotations of ‘fallow, untilled’.

References

(info. from McKay, P. (1995): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. 4 p. 110-111)

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference
Balligertgill1657cHib. Reg. Toome
Ballygortgill1657cDS (Par. Map) Duneane
Ballygortgill1661BSD 134
Balligortgill1672cHib. Del. Antrim
Gortgill1780Lendrick Map
Gortgeel1827cBnd. Sur. (Reg.)
Gortgill1828OSNB A 40
~Gort Geal ""white field""1828J O'D (OSNB) A 40
Gort-gile ""white field""1913O'Laverty iii 378
~Gort-gile ""white field""1913Joyce iii 378
Barony
Toome Upper
Parish
Duneane
Parish in 1851
Duneane
Townland
None
Place name ID
5304
Place name type
T