Clare Placenames

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      Paul Clerkin

      All names in Irish or in English given to thoroughfares and building groups in County Clare’s rural and urban landscape are being collected and their location mapped in a new survey.

      The Clare Placenames Committee, in association with Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSI), is seeking the public’s assistance in recording and verifying the names currently in use in County Clare. The completed survey will be utilised by OSI in its continued recording and mapping of Ireland’s landscape and cultural heritage. The recorded placenames will also be added to a database of more than 1.6 million addresses in Ireland.

      ‘The collecting and mapping of place names is the essence of heritage preservation, stated Emer O’Flaherty, Secretary of the Placenames Committee.

      She continued, ‘Irish placenames are an integral part of the cultural heritage of Ireland and provide a valuable source of knowledge of the past. We intend to collect the names of every thoroughfare and building group in Clare, from housing developments to roads and lanes, from crossroads and laneways to boithrans and pathways.

      ‘The public’s assistance is vital in ensuring that an accurate and complete map is compiled. The task would involve noting the English and Irish names that are currently in use on name plates of housing developments and street signs where in existence, Ms. O’Flaherty added.

      OSI, together with the Place Names Branch of the Dept. of Rural, Community and Gaeltacht Affairs is currently establishing an Irish language address database of placenames. To date the process has been implemented in Dublin City, Fingal, Meath and Louth and is now being extended to the remaining Local Authorities.

      A spokesperson for Ordnance Survey Ireland said, ‘OSI believes that the work done to date has proved that this project is the most efficient and effective way of producing a definitive, national set of Irish language street names, thus fulfilling the responsibilities of various public bodies under the Official Languages Act and also increasing operational effectiveness in dealing with correspondence in Irish.

      The Clare Placenames Committee was set up in 2002, under the Clare Heritage Plan, to advise and monitor the selection of suitable names for housing developments in the county. The Committee also encourages and where possible assists local communities, schools and interested individuals to undertake research into placenames and field names. The group is representative of various cultural and historical bodies in the County and work in conjunction with Council officers.

      Anyone interested in submitting information relating to names in their locality is asked to contact Emer O’Flaherty, Secretary of the Placenames Committee by email: or by post: Oifig na Gaeilge, Corporate Services Dept, 1 Bindon Court, Ennis.

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