Placenamesni.orgthe history behind our place-names

What's New


We are grateful to Foras na Gaeilge (the all-Ireland Irish language body) which has funded the creation of a two-way electronic link-up with the Placenames Database of Ireland ( and this project is now complete. contains data for the whole of the island, the research team in Dublin having been in existence for many years before the creation of NIPNP, and a total of 11,066 links has now been created between the two databases. The benefits of this link-up include the ability to access names in Northern Ireland via the all-island portal as well as through (which will facilitate access internationally to our data); and the sharing of archive material to the benefit of both databases. We would like to thank our colleagues in An Brainse Logainmneacha (The Placenames Branch of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs) for their constant help and support. We are also extremely grateful to Úna Bhreathnach, Brian Ó Raghallaigh, Aengus Finnegan and Máiréad Nic Lochlainn (Fiontar, Dublin City University) and to Jonathan Sloan (Land and Property Services, Department of Finance), without whose efforts this collaboration would not have been possible.


The Northern Ireland Place-Name Project online database was officially launched at the Northern Ireland Assembly in Stormont on 21 January 2013 by the Minister of Finance and Personnel, Mr Sammy Wilson MLA, in association with the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Queen's University Belfast, Professor James McElnay. As a collaborative project which is supported by Land and Property Services in the Department of Finance and Personnel, the event was hosted by the Finance and Personnel Committee represented by its chair, Mr Daithí McKay MLA. The event provoked great media interest and the website had recorded a total of 172,696 interactive page views in the six months following the launch (as of the end of July 2013).

A preliminary version of the database had previously been accessible online but, since the launch, information on the total corpus of over 30,000 names has been made available for the first time and includes categories of names other than names pertaining to the historical administrative system (i.e. townlands, civil parishes, baronies, counties). Also, complete bibliographical references for the historical sources from which evidence for the names has been extracted is now provided.

County Down is now complete as far as the historical administrative names are concerned. This was our focus in advance of the launch and much time was spent on editing the material and on providing complete coverage in terms of mapping for the townland names in the county. Also, more information was sought and obtained on names of English and Scots origin and this was a major advance on the preliminary version of the database which had previously been available. This phase of our work on County Down did not include the microtoponymy of the county (hamlets, rivers, hills and mountains etc.); we will be returning to names of this kind at a later stage.


Financial support from Queen's University's has funded Kainos to develop and provide an enhanced version of our website which has been available since 18 November 2013. The purpose of this funding was to review the user interface design and to improve significantly the quality of the user experience through a variety of enhancements. As well as a search facility based on the current forms of place-names, it is now possible to conduct a search for a historical version of a name (as it is rendered in a particular historical source) and to establish if it has been identified in the database with a place-name which is still in existence. Also, additional material has now been provided on the website which provides linguistic and historical contexts for the names and further information on aspects of the Project's work is currently under preparation.


The Northern Ireland Place-Name Project does not have any full-time researchers at the moment. However, discussions of names which have been published in a variety of printed sources, but which had never been entered into the database, are now being made available online. We continue to answer queries in relation to individual names from members of the public; some recent queries which have resulted in new discussions being entered into the database include Moorlough and Scribbagh in Co. Fermanagh, and Ballynag in Co. Derry-Londonderry. We are particularly grateful to Patrick McKay who had transcribed the Ordnance Survey Name Books for County Fermanagh at an earlier stage and who is currently typing these up for entry into the database in due course.

Professor Mícheál Ó Mainnín,
Director, Northern Ireland Place-Name Project