Much comment is often made, including in this column, as to the naming of places and I think that most who give it any thought would agree that names are best linked or rooted to an area, be it historical or topographical. The origin of words including that of place names is a particular area of interest of mine. Here I am dealing with the latter – that of place names. Some relate to an ancient site or settlement such as a rath, lios, dun, caiseal or later castle, others to a religious function such as cill (kill – as in Ballinakill) or eaglais (aglish). But in other places the anglicised ‘kill’ could be a reference to a wooded area – coill. The name could frequently be descriptive of a topographical feature such as Cnoc Bui/Knockboy, meaning the yellow hill (from the furze which still bloom in blazes of glory – and long may it do so!).

Place names can derive from the name of a long distant townland owner or an estate house/demesne of more recent centuries. Ballygunner is a very ancient one and is said to go back to a Viking named Gonar who settled in this historic area. Farranshoneen (on which much of Viewmount is built) means ‘Little John’s‘ or even Jenning’s land. Farran is Irish for an estate of land and has been used to name the nearby Farran Park. Mount Pleasant takes its name from the previous estate and house that stood there, indeed this was once known as Flynnsville – a name that now could be used elsewhere! The Irish for a pleasant mound is ard chaoin which in time was anglicised into Ardkeen! So for the most part the local record is good though some estates locally do have some pretentious sounding imports but then again beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And is not the wonderful sounding ULURU a great addition to the local geographical lexicon and by now has been rendered local by dint of Waterfordese – an elongated terminal U following the French flavoured rolling R.

Grange Rover

And so we move on to consider the role of Grange, a most popular local place name, used in a whole range of places. Over this past weekend I was asked by a resident of the Grange Park area about the origin of the name, so here’s my penny’s worth.

Grange is used as a place name all over the country, but more so in the south, especially the south-east. The usage of the word describes a farm house with sizeable outhouses especially for the storage of grain – from which the word grange itself derives. As I strolled around the area recently, I was struck by the considerable usage of the name of Grange in local place names clustered southwards of the Passage Road to the top of the Hill and beyond.

Grange Park could be said to be Grandfather of the lot, being the original development dating from the early 30’s and as such probably the city’s first suburban ‘leafy’ estate. The developments here had pre and post wars phases, with the latter commencing in 1955 initiated by what appears to be a cooperative movement called the Waterford Suburban Housing Society. Grange Lawn and Grange Park Avenue were built in this period reaching completion in the early 60’s, with further names like Grange Mews and Crescent to finish it off.

Daniel Dowling in his fine book Waterford Streets Past and Present informs us further that there was a Fennessy’s Nursery laid out on the lands here. This was a company founded in Waterford as far back as 1712 and given the nature of the business in what was then evidently a rural area the likelihood is that this was the original Grange that gave this area its name. Today that name lives on in many contiguous estates and now part of the address of literally thousands of homes. In addition to the Granges mentioned above we have Upper Grange; Grange Heights (Arda na Grainsi); Grange Manor; The Grange, Catherine’s Grange (good name: the land here formed part of lands owned by St Catherine’s Priory as in Catherine Street/Courthouse location today). At the bottom of the Folly area, we are not forgetting Lower Grange and nearby Grange Terrace. If I have missed any, please let me know. I hope this quick survey of the meaning and origin of a range of local place names proves of interest whether you be a long established local of many a generation or relatively new to the area because it’s good to have a sense of place by knowing your place!

Healing Sounds

The Waterford Healing Arts Trust’s Healing Sounds music programme presented a live performance by Marian and Áine Mangaoang in Waterford Regional Hospital on Monday, 7th April, for the benefit of patients, staff and visitors.

Marian Mangaoang started playing violin at the age of seven. She has studied in Waterford Institute of Technology Music School and Cork School of Music. She was a recipient of a Musical Instrument Fund of Ireland (MIFI) violin in 2003 and played on a Colin Mezin violin for three years. She is now a student at University City of Cork (UCC) where she studies languages and religions. 

Marian’s sister, Áine tried many different instruments from piano, flute and trumpet to glockenspiel, before settling on violin at the age of 14. She went on to study Music and Art History in UCC and was awarded a B.A. in 2006. She continued her studies in music at UCC, performing live using the violin with a local group ‘Eachtra’ and specializing in 20th century avant-garde composers and Javanese gamelan ensemble. She was awarded a B.MUS in 2007. She recently toured with her side-project, pop outfit ‘Hooray for Humans’, who released their debut album in October 2007. The album can be bought from all good music stores.

Marian and Áine performed a variety of different music in the foyer of Waterford Regional Hospital, their set ranged from classical and traditional Irish to Broadway Theatre music. This was followed by performances in Surgical 1 and Surgical 2 wards.

Healing Sounds aims to provide an enjoyable diversion for patients, staff and visitors to the hospital through a programme of high quality live music performances. This column is always pleased to support the excellent on-going work being done by WHAT, who have pioneered the whole concept of the healing role of the arts in Irish hospitals and many others since have followed their lead. Indeed, we were pleased to learn that they were deserving recipients of funds raised at the Mayor’s Ball.

Yours Sincerely

One of my favourite word origins is the word ‘sincere’. The next time you are signing off a letter or e-mail with ‘Yours Sincerely’ you are likely to be saying to your correspondent whoever he or she might be – ‘yours, without wax’! Well here’s the story and I’m sticking to it: It is commonly believed that sincere comes from two Latin words – sine ‘without’ and cera ‘wax’. Although even that much is challenged, there are two explanations for how ‘without wax’ came to be an important claim, both involving craftsmen, who in the Republic of Rome would generally have been slaves or foreigners. Some think that marble workers would cover imperfections in the stone with wax, much as modern homemakers or unscrupulous antique dealers might rub wax to hide a scratch in wood. Another idea for the origin of ‘sincere’ has more ominous consequences. Since cement was more expensive than wax, unscrupulous brick layers would sometimes employ it – at least that’s the story. When it melted, bricks could shift and structures collapse. So the claim that something was sine cera would be an important guarantee. Some other scholars query this but I quite fancy it and as they say -Plus ca Change (plus c’est la même chose”)!

By the way there are developments at last at the old ‘Maxol’ site – tell you all about it next week.

So ‘Gan Ceir’ sa Domhan – slan.