Placenamesni.orgthe history behind our place-names

Ballyhay, County Down


Ir. Baile Hae ‘Hay’s townland’


The name of this townland contains the surname Hay which originally meant ‘dweller by the enclosure’ or ‘dweller by the forest fenced off for hunting...’ (Reaney 1958, 157-8).  The historical evidence suggests that the name of the townland has its origin in the Anglo-Norman period when it was known as Hayton and that it was later gaelicised as Baile Hae. We know from a document dated to 1606 (CPR Jas. 1 78a) that this townland had probably been divided into two portions some time before the start of the 17th century: ‘The Ballihaies, 2 townlands in the parish of Donoghdee, in the Great Ardes.’ O’Laverty (ii 28) claims that there was a cave under a rath in this townland and his interpretation of Ballyhay is ‘the town of the cave’.  This would suggest an original Baile na hUaimhe but this seems unlikely. 


Hannan R. J. (1992): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. 2 p. 183

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference
Haytone1275cGreat Rolls Pipe 32
(?)Ecclesie del Hayton1280cCartae Dun. $12 423
(?)Villa Haye1280cCartae Dun. $12 423
Hayton,Ecclesiae beatae Maria del1290cEA 15n
Haytona, Ecclesia de1306cEccles. Tax. 14
Haytoun (manor of)1314cGreat Rolls Pipe xxxix 52
Haye, the town of1336CPR Ed. III 305
Haytown, the church of St. Mary1336CPR Ed. III 305
Haytoun1450cCPR (Tresham) 242
Ballihay1605Inq. Ult. (Down) $2 Jac. I
Ballihaies, the1606CPR Jas I 78a
Ballyhaies1615Terrier (Reeves) 57
Ballyhaies1615Terrier (O'Laverty) 327
Ballyhay1617CPR Jas I 326a
Ballheyes1622Ulster Visit. Reeves 53
Ballyhayes1623EA 15n
Ballyhayes,the two1650cMontgomery MSS 54 n.34
Ballehay & Ballevester1661BSD 88
Ballyhay1810Wm. Map (OSNB) E 167, E 24
Ballyhay1833High Const. Applot. (OSNB) E 167, E 24
Baile Ui Aodha ""Hughes''s town""1834cJ O'D (OSNB) E 167, E 24

"the town of the cave"

1880O'Laverty ii 28
Ards Lower
Parish in 1851
Place name ID
Place name type