Bere Island Place Names

Bere Island

Inis (or Oilean) Greagrai (or Gregraighe) was an ancient name for Bere Island.  Legend has it that Owen Mor, the King of Munster (circa AD 150-200), met a beautiful fairy, Eadaoin, who lived on the island of Inis Gregraighe. She fell in love with him and carried him off to Grianan (believed to be the island townland Greenane).  Owen stayed with the fairy for nine days and nine nights, following which he sailed to Spain where he and Princess Beara, daughter of the King of Castille fell in love and were married.  They later returned to his peninsula, which Owen named Beara in her honour.

Through the years various annals and documents list Bere Island as Great Island, Beare Haven Island, Bear Island and Bere Island.  Confusion exists due to the change in the vernacular language from Irish to English, a change which occurred in the eastern end much faster, due to the presence of a British military base there.  The official name is now Bere Island, however on nautical charts it is still listed as Bear Island.

Island Townlands

There are seven townlands on Bere Island:  Ardaragh, Ardagh, Ballinakilla, Cloughland, Derricreeveen, Greenane, Rerrin.

Ardaragh
There are two spellings of this townland – Ardaragh  (ArdDarach) and means ‘height of the oaks’ and Ardara Ard an Ratha – ‘height of the ring-fort’ – there is a Wedge Tomb located in the townland of Ardaragh’Ardara.

Ardagh
Roughly translated  this means the ‘high field.’

Ballinakilla
Baile na Cille translates as ‘townland of the Church’ in reference to St Michael’s Church which is located here, and remains the remains of an earlier church believed to be located nearby.

Cloughland
This is also spelt as Cloonaghlin and is further divided into Cloonaghlin West
Cloonaghlin Upper and Cloonaghlin Lower, references also include Clochlann/stone quarry.

Derrycreeveen
Translates as ‘townland of the oaks’ – local knowledge has it that this area once contained numerous oak trees.

Greenane
An Grianán ‘the summer dwelling place’. The literal meaning is summer dwelling place. In some places the name had a metaphorical sense ‘elevated place’, ‘important place’ and could be rendered as ‘royal seat’ where appropriate.

Rerrin
(Irish: Raerainn) is the name of the main village at the eastern end of Bere Island and is next to the sheltered mooring of Lawrence Cove. It is also the name of the townland surrounding the village. Historical records list Rurryne in the Calendar of Patent Rolls of James I dated 1611.

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