The final lecture of our 2024 Spring Lecture Series took place on Tuesday 23 April 2024 at the Lalor Centre, Baltinglass. Our speaker was Dr. Conchubhar Ó Crualaoich, who works with the Placenames Branch of the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. Conchubhar is author of Townland Names in County Wexford (2016) and has published several articles on surnames, forenames and placenames. He completed a project on the townland names of County Wicklow prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Conchubhar’s lecture addressed the evidence for Native Irish, Anglo-Norman and New English surnames in the names of townlands in County Wicklow. While there was a lot of Anglo-Norman settlement in West Wicklow, much of the land was re-conquered by the Irish and the townland names re-Gaelicised. Apart from those  townlands held by the professional classes ( poets, clergy, military, historians, and lawyers), very few Gaelic surnames are reflected in Wicklow townlands, most Gaelic placenames being topographic in nature. The great clans gave their names not to townlands, but to the greater territorial areas under their control. In 1606 Wicklow became the last region in Ireland to be shired, having been previously divided between Dublin, Kildare and Carlow. English townland names started to be coined after this period. Nonetheless, to this day an English placename can be either of Anglo-Irish or New English origin. Our thanks to Conchubhar for this very informative talk.

Most of the research conducted by the Placenames Branch, including historical maps, explanatory notes and featured themes, is available online at This is a website run by DCU Fiontar & Scoil na Gaeilge.

Photo: (L to R): Paul Gorry, Conchubhar Ó Crualaoich, and Caoimhne ní Shúilleabháin

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