WelcometoGlencoeGaelic Place Names

When you see a Gaelic place name or the  name of a hill, loch or glen, do you try to pronounce it an find out what it means, shudder and just make a guess, or ignore it completely? So many of the names are descriptive of the area. or tell a little bit of history of the place that it really is worth making an effort. There are still plenty of signs of the old Norse names around too, roughly in the proportion of two Gaelic names to one Norse name in the north. Sometimes a name is made up of a word from each language, for example ‘Glendale’ – ‘dale’ being a Norse name with the same meaning as ‘glen’ (Gleann in Gaelic). A good way of getting around and getting to know a place is by bicycle. Then there is plenty of time to look at the signs and your map along with any local booklets and see what you can learn for yourself.


Allt Meurachthe branching burn – a tributary of the River Ree
Aird dhobharArdgour, the promontory of the water. Also sometimes thought to mean ‘the height of the goats’.
Baile a’ChaolaisBallachulish, the village of the narrows.
Beinn na CaillichThe hill of the old woman. These two mountains are on the North side of Loch Leven.
BunreeThe bottom of the River Ree.
CallairdCallart, Hazel Point.
Camus a’ChòisThe bay of the nook.
Camus na h-EirbheCamusnaherie, the bay of the boundary wall.
Caolas ‘ic PhàdruigThe strait of Peter’s son.
Caolas na ComhannCaolasnacoan, the strait of the ‘Comhann’ or Caolas nan Con, the strait of the dogs (in days gone by the Shepherd and his dog would cross from one side of the narrows to the other.)
Cair InnisCairnis Carness, the rough meadow, Cathar, a peat moss, also rough broken ground.
Clach a’CharraThe Stone of the Rock. It is near the shore at Onich.
Clach PhàdruigPatrick or Peter’s stone, the large rock by Ballachulish Bridge.
CorranA promontory, corr – sharp, pointed, cf. corrag – the index finger
CuilcheannaThe nook of the headland.
Dail na MineThe field of the meal.
Druim na BirlinnA ridge of the galley, either because of the shape, or because the birlinns or galleys used to come up the loch to here.
Gleann SeileachThe willow glen.
Gleann ComhannGlencoe.
RighKing Inchree, the meadow of the ridge or slope.
Innis na BirlinnA meadow of the galley.
CeapanachKeppanach, arable land.
Ceann Loch LiobhannKinlochleven, known to Gaelic speaking people as Ceann Loch Mor, the head of the big loch. The other side of the River Leven was Ceann Loch Beag until the village of Kinlochleven was built at the beginning of the century for housing people working in the then newly built aluminium factory.  The aluminium factory is now closed.
Làirig MòrThe big pass. (Am Bodach, the old man, is opposite B. na Caillich) The old woman.
Linnhe DubhThe dark pool, (the upper section i.e. Corran to Fort William.
An Linnhe SeileachLinnhe Sheilach, the willow pool, or Linnhe Sàlleach, the brackish pool (the lower section of Loch Linnhe).
Màm na GualainnThe round hill of the shoulder.
Allt NathrachNathrach Bridge, appears to mean Adder burn, but is actually Alltan Darach, oak tree burn.
OnichPlace of froth, or frothy milk, presumably a frothy beach. In old records ‘offanich’.
Sealladh CùilLiterally ‘back view’. This road becomes a forestry path further up the glen and leads to Lundavra.
Tigh na sleubhaichThe house of the gully place.
TighphuirtHouse by the Pier
Ben of the ThunderboltsBen Bheithir
Burn or streamallt
Cauldron, kettlecoire
Diminutive (Lochan, a small loch)An
Inver (mouth or river)inbhir
Mountain (ben)beinn
Nose, promontarysron
Of the hindseilde
Township or villagebaile

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