Placenamesni.orgthe history behind our place-names

Ballyvesey, County Antrim


Ir. Baile ‘townland’ (of uncertain origin)


The first element of this place-name is baile ‘townland’, however, the variation in the historical forms makes it difficult to be sure of the origin of the second element.

The endings -vissey (1669), -vesey (1780) and the modern form of this name indicate that this second element might derive from a word beginning with the consonant cluster -mh- (c.f. Baile an Mhadaidh townland/settlement of the dog/fox’, Ballyvady) or -bh- (c.f. Baile Bhuaile ‘townland of the milking-place’). Supported by the appearance of the consonant -n- in the historical forms is the form Baile an Mheasáin ‘townland of the lap-dog’. Another element that begins with m- is meas ‘fruit of the forest tree’ (Ó Dónaill) and might derive the original form Baile an Mheasa ‘townland of the fruit of the forest tree’ (c.f. Achadh an Mheasa, Aghavas in Co. Leitrim).

Kilmessan in Co. Meath derives from Cill Mheasáin (St. Messan’s church) in the form assigned to John O’Donovan (, although no such saint is attested in the major sources.

Baile Uí Mhaoilmheasa is the original form of Ballymassy in Co. Tipperary ( which takes a similar form.

According to the Ordnance Survey Memoirs, the name derives from ‘town of the Veseys’ a family name after the Veseys, who formerly resided in the townland. The surname Vesey is a form of Vasey, an English surname derived from Anglo-Norman French enveisé, and Old French envoisié ‘playful’. This name is relatively infrequent in Ireland with only 10 occurrences currently recorded (Hanks, Coates & McClure 2016, s.v. Vesey). Although representative of the modern form, the surname Vesey does not account for the occurrence of -m- or -n- in the historical forms.



Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference
?Ballivossyne1604CPR Jas I 49a
?Ballimessine1605Inq. Ant. (DK) 47
?Ballymestine1608CPR Jas I 120b
?Ballinesnie1621CPR Jas I 523b
Ballyvissey1669HMR Ant. 28
Ballyvesey1780Lendrick Map
""i.e. Vesey''s town""1828J O'D (OSNB) A16
Baile Feasoighe ""Veseys'' Town""1934Magill's Antrim 69
Belfast Lower
Parish in 1851
Place name ID
Place name type