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Ballyholme, County Down


Ir. Baile Hóm' townland of the river-meadow' or 'Holme's townland'


2.5km E of Bangor

par: Bangor bar: Ards Lower


Among the meanings given under ‘holm’ in the Shorter OED is ‘a piece of flat low-lying ground by a river’; the definition in Concise Scots Dict. of ‘holm’ is in agreement with this.  In an unpublished lecture, the late Deirdre Flanagan suggested that the second element of Ballyholme might be the Old Norse word holmr ‘river meadow’, which was borrowed into English as ‘holm’.  It is significant that one of the few noteworthy Viking burial sites in Ireland has been found near the shore at Ballyholme, and indeed other artifacts attributed to the Vikings have also been found in the area (ASCD 102, 140). There is also a possibility that the second element of Ballyholme is a surname.  The name Holm(es) derives from Old Norse holmr.  The surname is understood to have its origin in someone who lived in a ‘residence near a flat piece of land in a fen or by a piece of land partly surrounded by streams’ (Reaney 1958: 168).  Furthermore Reaney explains that Middle English holm can also derive from Old English hole(g)n > Middle English holin, holm ‘holly, holm-oak’.  In this case the meaning would be ‘dweller by a holm-oak’. 


Hannan R. J. (1992): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. 2 p. 153; McKay, P. (2007) A Dictionary of Ulster Place-Names, p.13

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference
Ballehunne1604CPR Jas I 38a
Ballihum al Ballihummogh1605Inq. Ult. (Down) §2 Jac. I
Ballihome al Balliniminagh1620Ham. Patent [1620] xx
Ballyholme1623Ham. Copy Inq. [1623] lii
Ballyholmie1623Ham. Copy Inq. [1623] xxx
B[a: H]olmie1625cRaven Map Clandeboye 11
Balle Holme1625cRaven Map Clandeboye 14
Balleholmie1625cRaven Map Clandeboye 11
Ballyholviev or Ballehomie1630Ham. Patent [1630] xi
Ballehelme al Ballehomie1645Inq. Ult. (Down) §104 Car. I
Ballyholme1659cCensus 1659 94
(?)Ballehollin1661BSD 90
Ballyholin?1810Wm. Map (OSNB) No. 54
Ballyholm1830cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) No. 54

Baile Holme

1834cJ O'D (OSNB) No. 54

Baile Holme/Holme's Town

1834cJ O'D (OSNB) No. 54

Baile Hóm

1969AGBP 113

Baile Hóm

1989GÉ 19

perhaps Baile Hóm "Hóm's townland"

1999Dict. Ulst. PN 13
Ards Lower
Parish in 1851
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