Three times as many Norse place-names?

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In Wexford and Limerick, as in Irish counties as a whole, at least seven kinds of place-names with Scandinavian affiliations have been identified by the author. Apart from the more than thirty well-known examples such as the Arklows, Wicklows and Wexfords, the number of definitive Norse place-names to be identified for Ireland may be at least trebled. Examples include Ayre (WX) (eyrr, ‘beach’) and Leahy’s/Lyeth (LK) (hlið, ‘hill-slope’). A related second type combines Scandinavian (mainly Norse) specifics with -ston, -tun, -town and other Norse generics, e.g. Streamstown (WX and Galway) (straumr, ‘swift tidal stream’) and Tingtown (WX). Thirdly, although not nearly as numerous as in Scandinavian Scotland, a range of Norse names have been thoroughly or partially Gaelicised, e.g. Finnoo/ffinowe (LK) (‘white river’) and Feoramore/beg (Kerry) (fjöru, ‘ebb-tide beach’). Fourthly, rather like the ‘Grimston’ hybrids in England’s Danelaw, what I term the ‘Bally’ hybrids, involving an Irish-language generic with a Norse-derived specific, run into the hundreds; examples include Rathsyward (LK) and Balyrothduff (WX). Fifthly, a small number of well-documented place-names reveal Norse attempts to pronounce challenging Irish-language place-name forms, e.g. Schengole/Seanghualainn/Shanagolden (LK). Sixthly, in quite a number of townlands Anglo-Norman or New English place-names have displaced the Scandinavian type, e.g. Croker’s Park (LK) in place of Bally(h)sitric. Finally, a small minority of apparently English-language place-names may have Old Norse roots, e.g. Yardland (Wicklow) from garðr (‘enclosure/farm’).


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