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Book reveals origins of Mayo placenames

The largest book in the Irish language ever written by a single author reveals the origins of placenames in County Mayo.

The long-running study of approximately 3,500 townland and island names of Mayo was compiled by Partry resident, Dr. Fiachra Mac Gabhann RIP, and initiated in 2001.

It is with great sadness we record that Dr. Mac Gabhann died suddenly in January 2018.

This ten-volume series, spanning 7,500 pages and comprising 2.5 million words, has recently been published in a limited print run and also in CD format.

It charts the historical references to the administrative units of Ireland’s third biggest county and provides extensive linguistic analysis, as Gaeilge.

Original Irish forms of our anglicised names are proposed and translations suggested.

An extensive array of sources in several languages, from the earliest historical periods down to the advent of the Ordnance Survey of the 1830s, were employed; over 300 local people were interviewed and recordings of Mayo Irish speakers from the last half-century explored.

In addition, thousands of local names collected in some of our Gaeltacht and island communities – such as Inishturk are examined.

Astonishing work

Guest-speaker at the launch of “Logainmneacha Mhaigh Eo” in the National Museum of Ireland in Turlough Park, Castlebar, on June 20th, 2014 was Knock native and Head of Scoil na Gaeilge in NUIG, Dr. Nollaig Ó Muraíle.

Speaking at the launch, Dr. Ó Muraíle said: “This astonishing work of learning and strenuous research – the largest book in the Irish language ever written by a single author – gives Mayo a unique place in the annals of Irish scholarship.”

Describing how no other county in Ireland has had its place-names analysed in such detail, Dr Ó Muraíle added: “For this great achievement the author, Dr. Fiachra Mac Gabhann, deserves the undying gratitude of every Mayo person who is proud of his/her native county, and indeed the gratitude of generations of Mayo people yet unborn.”

For further details on how to purchase a copy of “Logainmneacha Mhaigh Eo”, contact Gnó Mhaigh Eo at

By Anthony Hickey

Follow writer and photographer, Anthony Hickey, as he travels around his native Co. Mayo, Ireland.

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