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16 October 2014
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BEGINNERS' BLAS 12
LOGAINMNEACHA/ PLACENAMES


ULSTER or CÚIGE ULADH

Since the beginning of the series I have been explaining the origins of various Ulster place names in Ulster, but where did Ulster itself get it’s name. In Irish Ulster is Cúige Uladh the province of Ulster. Cúige, the Irish word for province actually means ‘fifth’ as historically there were five provinces in Ireland, the four which are still provinces, Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connacht and the former fifth province of Meath which consisted of the present day Meath and Westmeath.

Ulster being Ulaidh means place of the ulaidh or the place of the Ulster men the biggest tribe who occupied the province and was documented as far back as 150AD by Ptolemy, an Greek explorer. The meaning of this tribal name is unknown but they were the main group occupying the ancient province of Ulster in the pre-Christian period, which then stretched from the River drowse in Donegal to the Boyne in County Louth but after the destruction of Eamhain Macha in A.D. 332, it was restricted to the territory east of the river Bann, Lough Neagh, and the Newry river.

By the sixth century this had reduced dramatically to cover only Counties Antrim and Down, the North east of County Derry and as far as the River Boyle in County Louth.

In the time of the Anglo-Normans it was reduced yet further and covered only Counties Antrim and Down. The boundaries of the nine county province of Ulster as it is known today were laid down in the early 17th Century.
So there you have it Ulster, Cúige Uladh, the territory of the Ulstermen!

Listen to Céara Ní Choinn Listen to Céara Ní Choinn talk about the origins of Ulster.

 

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