Placenamesni.orgthe history behind our place-names

Rathbeg, County Antrim


Ir. An Ráth Beag ‘the little fort’


The name of the townland of Rathbeg is recorded in the Annals of the Four Masters under the year 558AD [recte 565AD] when we are informed that the king of Ireland, Diarmaid, the son of Fearghus Cerrbheoil, was slain by Aodh Dubh, son of Suibhne, King of Dal-Araidhe ‘ag Raith bicc,hi Moigh Line’, i.e. ‘at Rathbeg in Moylinny’ (AFM i 200). Moylinny is now the name of a townland which lies a short distance to the south-west, in the civil parish of Antrim but it was originally a native Irish kingdom extending as far east as Ballyclare and beyond and having its headquarters at ‘Rathmore of Moylinny’, the townland which borders Rathbeg on the south (see Rathmore, Moylinny). The fort after which the townland of Rathbeg is named was sadly removed during the construction of the M2 motorway in 1973, though the name Rathbeg is still used for the traffic roundabout in the townland. In the year 1605 Ballirathbigg is given as one of the ‘sixteen towns of Antrim’ (CPR Jas I 39a), even though it is now almost entirely in the civil parish of Donegore, with a small portion in the neighbouring parish of Grange of Nilteen.


Pat McKay

Additional Information

178a2r 6p in Donegore P.,3a2r17p in Nilteen (1851)

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference
Ballirathbigg1604CPR Jas I 39a
Ballirathbegg1605CPR Jas I 77a
Ballyrathbegg1605Inq. Ant. (DK) 44,50
Ballyrathbegg1608CPR Jas I 120b,122a
Ballyrathbegg1621CPR Jas I 523b,524a
Ballyrathbogg1621Inq. Ult. (Antrim) Jac.I $7
Rabegg1669HMR Ant. 131
Rabegg1669HMR Ant. 131
Rathbeg1780Lendrick Map
Rathbeg1780Lendrick Map
~Rath Beag ""little fort""1832cJ O'D (OSNB) A2
~Rath Beag ""little fort""1832cJ O'D (OSNB) A2
apud Rathbeggam1847EA 279
~""small fort""1869Joyce i 574 (ind.)
~""small fort""1869Joyce i 574 (ind.)
~i rRaith Bic566Stokes, W. 1895,96,97 xvii 146
Antrim Upper
Parish in 1851
Place name ID
Place name type