Townland names probably came into use in connection with the periodic distribution of tribe lands under the Brehon laws, as the laws of ancient Ireland were called. The habits of the people were at that time mainly pastoral, and settled individual possession of land was not the rule. All the lands belonged to the tribe and to its subdivisions called clans and septs.

The rougher portions of the lands, swamps and woods, were held as common property to which each individual was entitled to send his beasts to graze. The arable lands were shared in allotments among the adult tribesmen for tillage purposes. But by a practice known as Gavelkind, the tribal lands were liable to distribution every second or third year. To subserve this system, townland names came into use; boundaries, as we understand them, came later.

The study of these names is interesting and instructive if we consider their origin. Physical features, strongholds, local events, all helped to swell the list, and happily, the old Gaelic names still survive, although it is sometimes difficult to recognise them in their anglicised forms.

There are twenty-one townlands in the parish. The following are their names in alphabetical order:

  • BALLYAUGHIAN: Bealachín (the little pass)
  • BALLYCASHONE: Baile coir Abhann (homestead beside the river)
  • BALLYGORIAN: Baile Ui Dhairian (O’Dorrian’s homestead)
  • BALLYKEEL: Baile Caol (narrow steading)
  • BALLYMAGHERY: Baile an Mhachaire (homestead of the plain)
  • BALLYNAGAPPOG: Baile na gCapóg (steading of dock weeds)
  • BALLYNANNY: Baile an Eanaigh (homestead of the uncut bog)
  • BALLYWILLY: Baile an Mhaoile (homestead of the bare hill)
  • CABRA: Cabrach (poor land)
  • CARCULLION: Carrcuileann (rough ground with holly bushes)
  • CLEOMAC: Cluichemhaigh (a playing field)
  • DRUMBONIFF: Druim Banbh (ridge shaped like a pig’s back)
  • GOWARD: Baile an Colbha hÁird (steading of the raised plinth)
  • ISLANDMOYLE: Aidhleann Maol (flat dwelling place)
  • KINGHILL: Caodhchill (church in the marsh)
  • LEITRIM: Liath Druim (grey ridge)
  • LENISH: Baile Aonghuis (Magenis homestead)
  • LEOD: Liath Fhód (grey sod)
  • LISNAMULLIGAN: Lios na mBolgán (breezy spot)
  • MULLAGHMORE: Mullach Mór (big summit)
  • STANG: Stang (a measure of land)

Click here for a link to a wonderful Townlands map of Clonduff