Placenamesni.orgthe history behind our place-names

Ringneill, County Down


Ir. Rinn an Aoil ‘promontory of the lime’


Ringneill is a promontory surrounded on three sides by Strangford Lough. It now has on the NE a causeway to Reagh Island and ultimately the early monastery of Nendrum on Mahee Island. Inland and on the west Ringneill shares boundaries with Ballydrain and Tullynakill townlands.  The name derives from Ir. rinn ‘promontory, point’ plus either an aoil ‘of the lime’ or the personal name Niall.  The history of the name indicates misreading at some period of handwritten initial K as R, since the earliest identifiable reference seems to be to Ballekeneneile in the manor of Ballindrin in 1623 (Ham. Copy Inq. xlviii). This spelling could be explained as Baile ‘townland’ prefixed to a place-name Ceann an Aoil ‘headland of the lime’.  Ceann often appears in place-names in the ‘locative’ form cinn (Joyce I 522-3).  However the spelling Ringneale on the Raven Maps c. 1625 and subsequently shows that the near synonym Rinn had no difficulty supplanting Ceann or Cinn. The middle syllable in keneneile might also suggest the alternative Ceann Uí Néill ‘headland of O’Neill’, but lime was quarried further west in the parish, and probably exported from quays at Ringneill.  Ballygavan, an obsolete place-name which is referred to frequently (Ham. Copy Inq. 1623 xlvi, xlvii, lix), can no longer be located but must have been nearby.


KM, 2009

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference


1623Ham. Copy Inq. [1623] xlviii
Ringneale1625cRaven Map Clandeboye 53
Castlereagh Lower
Parish in 1851
Place name ID
Place name type