Placenamesni.orgthe history behind our place-names

Greenan, County Antrim


Ir. An Grianán ‘the hill/place with a view’


The word grianán is derived from Irish grian ‘sun’.  According to Joyce, its literal meaning is ‘a sunny spot’, but its normal meaning in place-names is ‘a royal seat’ (Joyce i 291-2).  Ó Maolfabhail (1974, 69) suggests that grianán in townland names was applied to elevated places commanding a good view or to places of some importance, regularly used by the public, a meaning which is a metaphorical extension of the early literary meaning of ‘upper room in a house’.  In the case of this townland, there is no evidence to suggest that it was formerly an important place.  However, there is a conspicuous hill here, known as ‘Greenan Hill’, which commands an extensive view over Lough Neagh and the surrounding countryside, and this is clearly the feature to which the name An Grianán refers.  It appears likely, therefore, that in this case the element grianán may signify simply ‘hill, place with a view’, an interpretation which is similar to that suggested for the name of the townland of Greenan in the parish of Newry, Co. Down (PNI i 28).  As remarked by Ó Maolfabhail (ibid.), the element grianán in place-names normally stands alone, without a qualifying element, indicating that the feature referred to was a unique feature of the district in which it was situated.  This criterion would apply to the hill referred to in this place-name, as it is certainly a distinctive feature of the landscape. 


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

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference
Grenan1637Lodge RR Chas I i 407
Half ye town of Grenan1661BSD 135b
Greanan 1/2 townland1663Lodge RR Chas II i 106
Grenan1669HMR Ant. 146
Half of Grenane1684Lodge RR Chas II ii 292
Grennanan1780Lendrick Map
Grenan1785Duff's Lough Neagh
Greening1828OSNB A 40
~Grianán ""sunny land, solarium""1828J O'D (OSNB) A 40
Greening1829OS Fair Plan Maps
Greenan1832OS Name Sheets
""grianan..a royal unquestionably its gene1869Joyce i 292
Toome Upper
Parish in 1851
Place name ID
Place name type