Ulster Dialect

Ulster Dialect

Ulster is a veritable mongrel of a country, with influences from a plethora of European Countries especially Spain, Scandinavia, and the British mainland.  This influx of national cultures blending with the native parlance, has created an intriguing and distinct dialect.  Most of the terms are Gaelic, either Irish or Scots, and those names are surprisingly logical usually referencing an aspect of nature such as a river or a hill, or possibly a man made structure such as a fort or a settlement.
According to my Irish Language Specialist, when the Protestant landowners rose to power they performed a census/audit of their local areas.  They sent guys round with a clipboard and pen,  with the task of noting down the local settlement names, but they may have had some difficulty understanding the country brogue, so just scribbled down a best guess.  That's why much of the nomenclature is similar but still a little different, a form of unintentional Anglicization.  Pair this with the intentional Anglicization and that is why a number of the more Gaelic names have faded somewhat, but a little research intimates as to their influence.
Below is a selection of some of the more intriguing names that we came across. This will grow the deeper we delve.

Common Names

PlaceOriginMeaningExample
Bally Gaelic (Baile na)'Place of' or 'Town of'Ballymena (middle town), Ballymoney (town of the moor), Ballymacarret (town of MacCarrett)
CarrickGaelic (Carraig)RockCarrickfergus (Fergus's Rock), Carrick-a-rede (Throwing Rock)
Down/Dun/DonGaelic (Dun)FortDownpatrick (St Patrick's Fort), Dundrum (fort of the hill), Donegal (Fortress of the Foreigners)
Drom/Drum Gaelic (DrimRidge Dromore (large ridge), Drumcree (Boundary Ridge)
Kil/KillyGaelic (Chill)ChurchShankill (old church), Killaney (church of the marsh)
KnockGaelic (Cnoc)HillKnocknagoney (hill of the rabbits), Ballyknock (town of the hill)
SlieveGaelic (Sliabh)MountainSlieve Donnard (Donards Mountain), Slieve Muck (Pig Mountain)
FordNorse (Fjordor)Sea-InletStrangford (Strong Sea-inlet), Carlingford (Sea-inlet of the hag)
BurnGaelic (Burn)Brook or StreamCrawfordsburn (The stream of the Crawfords),

Interesting Place Names

NameOriginMeaningNote
UlsterGaelic (Ulaidh) and Norse (ster)Ulaidh is Ulsterman, Ster is land of
BelfastGaelic (Beal Feirste)rivermouth of the sandbank (Farset)The river Farset derives its name from an Irish word meaning sandbank, hence
Falls RoadGaelic (túath na bhFál) territory of the enclosuresIn Ulster Scots it is Faas Raa, Slightly ironic given the second word
Cave HillGaelic (Benmadigan )Little dog's PeakMadudhán was the little dog, and a former king of Ulster
RowallaneGaelic (Rubha Alainn)beautiful promontoryDue to its setting as a country garden you're just as likely to see brides as beasts at Rowallane Gardens
PortavogieGaelic (Port an Bhogaigh)Port of the BogActually not a badspot for a drink despite its name
Lough NeaghGaelic (Loch nEathach)Eochaidh’s lakeCaused when a magic well overflowed
LimavadyGaelic (Léim an Mhadaidh)leap of the dogSo called as a hound made the leap to warn its master of a surprise attack on their lands