Clarecastle and Ballyea Parish Fieldnames Survey
Fieldnames: Explanations of place, past and present.
Dr. Catherine O’Connor
Placenames play an essential role in the preservation of local heritage and identity.They form a ‘valuable part of our cultural inheritance.’[ii] While townlands are the smallest administrative unit or area of geographical distribution recorded, the names of fields and structures of interest, including buildings, roads and laneways are often unrecorded and risk being lost over time. As well as illustrating the topography of an area, field names identify the activity of people, past as well as present. They reveal their footprints on the landscape where they lived, worked and built their homes.
This chapter will highlight some of the fieldnames recorded in the parish of Clarecastle and Ballyea during 2013-14 as part of the heritage collection activity of the Clarecastle Ballyea Heritage and Wildlife group.[iii] This Fieldnames Survey has recorded over five hundred fieldnames to date, supplied to the group by over forty current landowners and users.[iv] The corresponding Fieldnames Table does not claim to document every field in the parish. The project is an ongoing one, attempting to record previously undocumented details about the area, the physical landscape and the social and economic lives of the people who inhabited it. A review of the Fieldnames Survey indicates that as well as names that deal exclusively with agricultural use, some field names in the parish, especially those derived from Irish, identify sometimes forgotten practices, customs and traditions.