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16 October 2014
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BEGINNERS BLAS 1

L
OGAINMNEACHA/ PLACENAMES

BELFAST

A lot of us take our town, street and parish names for granted, passing signposts by almost every day of the week without really giving them a second glimpse. Ach ar smaonaigh tú ariamh faoi cá háit as a dtáinig fréamha na n-ainmeacha seo? Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of these names have very simplistic derivatives; despite some of you believing that they are archaic and unintelligible - their roots lie in ár dteanga dúchais, our native Gaelic. And over the next few weeks we can enjoy the adventure discovering where exactly our local placenames came from, don’t worry I’ll not bombard you, we’ll take it one place at a time and where better to start but Belfast.

I'm not a native of Belfast myself but have lived here for the past couple of years and have grown to love all the different areas within 'an chathair is mó sa Tuaisceart', Béal Feirste. Belfast or Béal Feirste derives her name from Béal meaning mouth agus Feirste nó Farsaid meaning inlet or sand bank ford. The sand bank ford which I refer to stretched its way right across the mouth of the river Lagan, Loch Lao mar a thugtar uirthi i nGaeilge; the farsaid or the sand bank ford was the crossing place or stretch on the Lagan which linked the modern Condae Aontroma agus Condae an Dúin and which now in modern terms is High Street nó an tSráid Ard- sráid being ‘street’ and Árd being ‘high’ which is now in the heart of our city Béal Feirste. Place names or logainmneacha like this always conjure up mental images of days gone by to me…..and I can almost imagine people back in centuries gone by crossing over the Feirste.

Listen to  Antaine O'Donnaile Listen to Ceara talk about Belfast


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