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Crew, County Antrim


Ir. Craobh Thulcha ‘branching tree of the knoll’


The townland of Crew contains in the south-east Crew Hill (200m), the highest point in the parish of Glenavy, approximately three miles south-east of Glenavy village.  The wide view from ‘the Crew-hill’ was described in 1814: ‘Lough Neagh, Loughbeg, Ram’s Island, Shane’s Castle, Langford Lodge; part of the counties of Derry, Tyrone, Armagh, Monaghan, Louth, Antrim and Down; also the towns of Moira, Dungannon, Charlemont, Stewartstown, Lurgan and Hillsborough’ (Shaw Mason’s Par. Sur. ii 235).  The hill of Craeb Telcha (modernised as Craobh Thulcha) was the site of two famous battles between the rival peoples of Uí Néill and Ulaid in AD 1003 and 1099.  Both times the Ulaid were defeated, and in 1099, to emphasise their conquest, the Uí Néill party cut down the sacred tree which grew the on the hill (AFM).  The Ulaid later, in AD 1111, felled the trees at the Uí Néill inauguration site of Tullaghoge across Lough Neagh, near Cookstown (AFM).  In the section Names of Townlands in the Parochial Survey, Crew was explained as Crubh, ‘the form of a horse’s hoof’ (Shaw Mason’s Par. Sur. ii 273), but this is clearly wrong, given the information above.  The place-name has been studied in detail by Deirdre Flanagan (1970).  The old Irish spelling Craeb Telcha was also mentioned in an itinerary to significant places in an early Ulster cycle tale called Immaccallam in dá Thuarad, ‘Colloquy of the two Sages’, which describes the debate at Navan Fort /Emain Macha between two poets Néde and Ferchertne over who should be the chief poet of Ireland after Néde's father's death.(Stokes 1905, 10 $5). References on maps of the plantation period to Knockcruhollogh ‘hill of Cru-hollogh’ establish the link between the Irish name and Crew Hill, which was still locally believed to be the inauguration site for the ‘Kings of Ulster’ (Flanagan 1970, 29-32).  The townland of Crew Park in the neighbouring parish of Ballinderry borders the townland of Crew on the west and appears to be named from it. 

(LNP 30)


Kay Muhr

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference
Cath Craoibe Telchu1002Chron. Scot. 240
~Craoibhe tulcha, cath1003AFM ii 750
~Craibe Telcha, cath1004AU (Mac Airt) 432
ag Craoibh tulcha1099AFM ii 962
ig Croibh thelcha... tescait croibh thelcha1099ALC i 84
~Craibh Tealcha, tescait1099AU (Mac Airt) 534
~Craobh Tulcha, tescait1099AFM ii 962
~Craoibhe Tealcha, iar mbuain1099AFM ii 962
~i Craibh Telcha1099AU (Mac Airt) 534
Brian hi cCraoibh Tulcha 7 Ulaidh aga bhiatadh ann1100cCogadh GG 136 (cf AD 1005
cath Craibhe Tulcha1100cCogadh GG 134
~co Craibh Telcha1148AFM ii 1086
Cath Craíbe Telcha1160cLL iv 794 =183a57
Cath Craíbe Tilcha1160cLL i 98 (26 a 11)
cath na Craibe1160cLL iii 502 =131b22
for Craib Telcha. for Mag nErcaite. for Banna1160cLL iv 815 =186a IT
Knockcruhollogh (drawing of single-peaked hill)1590Jobson Map (DF) check DF to Job
K:Crewhollage (drawing of 2-peaked hill)1602cBartlett Map (Greenwich) DF 1590c < Grch
Knockcruhollogh1610Speed's Ulster
Ballycrewe1625Inq. Ult. (Antrim) Car.I $1
Crew1659cCensus 1659 6
Crow1672cHib. Del. Antrim
Crew1780Lendrick Map
Lá Craoibhe Tulcha17th?LCABuidhe 154
go Craoibh Tulcha; Aodh Craoibhe Tulcha17th?LCABuidhe 26
~Craobh ""a wide branching tree""1832cJ O'D (OSNB) A24
~""Craebh signifies either a branch or a large wide1869Joyce i 501
Massereene Upper
Parish in 1851
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