Townlands of Camross

The townland is the base unit of Irish geography. The name of the townland one grew up in can often evoke far more emotions in an expat than that of parish, county and even country. Locked within the names of these parcels of land is an untold history that can go back for thousands of years. Townland names are among the most tangible and ‘live’ links to the first Gaels of Ireland that remain to this day.

Much of the work on the toponymy of Laois was carried out almost a century ago by Helen Roe, the first County Librarian of Laois. She was born in Mountrath in 1895 where she developed a love of folklore, archaeology and history. She researched history extensively and over the course of half a century she became one of the most respected authorities on early Christian Ireland. In 1932 she conducted a thorough research project on the place names of Laois but the research remained unpublished until the typescript was rediscovered 2006.

Place names from Camross, as well as notable place names from around the Slieve Blooms, have been taken from Roe’s research and are presented here as an introductory step into to the history of Camross.


Achadh Dubh

Black field


Eanach Truim

Marsh of the elder tree


Ard Eireann

Height of lreland

The highest peak of the Slieve Bloom Mountains at 527 metres. It is the 399th tallest peak in Ireland.


Bealach Ladhradh

Forked pass or road

This townland is now known as Neilstown.


Bealach Mór

Great road


Baile na Ralach

Town of the oak tree



A lame man



A fort or city

The word Cathair – a stone built fort occurs in very few place names in Ireland and is very unequally distributed. The name does not occur in Ulster, and is only twice found in Leinster,


Cam Ros

Crooked wood


Ceapach an Arbh

Plot of the corn land


Caisleán Mhic Chonaire

McConors Castle



A trench or pool


Cluain na Slighe

Meadow of the road

Roads in lreland were called variously, Slighe, Bealach, Bothar and Tochar. Those called Slighe, or bealach were usually large and important highways, fit to carry large bodies of traffic, while the bother was smaller. Tochar is applied to causeways or lanes, sometimes constructed of logs lashed together or paved ways across soft land. Indeed, the hill now more commonly known as Moll Joy’s Hill, was known as ‘the tochar’ up until the early 20th Century.


Cluain Coille

Field of the wood

Given as Cluain Cullaig in early texts. It is also suggested that the name may be Cluain Caillighe, the nun’s field.



Little meadow


Gleann Glasa

Glen of the two streams

Clondeglass, near Lacka, appears on the Down Survey map as Glendaglas, which seems to point to Glenn Ghlais, but it could also mean Glenn dubh Ghlaise, glen of the dark stream. The same difficulty arises with the name now called Glenaglass, which might equally be Cluain dubh ghlaise or Gleann na glaise, (field of the dark stream, or glen of the stream, respectively)


Cúl Rúithín

Back of the little rath



Shares or divisions



A confluence of rivers

The Derries

Na Doirínthe



Doire Cantoin

Canton’s oakwood

The name Canton comes from the family name of FitzAnthony in its lrish form of Mac Antoine.


Doire Garbh

Rough oakwood


Doire Leathan

Broad oakwood


Doire na Saorach

Oakwood of the freeman

In ancient times the Irish were divided in the social scale according to rank, ranging from the king down to the slave population. There was an important group of persons belonging to the free class (soer), which included certain trades and craftsmen. The non-free (Doer) were not slaves, but rather filled the places of serfs in the medieval feudal system.


Garraí Fionn

Fair garden


Gleann Bearbha

Glen of the Barrow or silent river


Gleann Bodhar

Deaf glen

The use of the word bodhar – deaf, in local names is not easy to explain, but someone once suggested that if you speak loudly, as you must to a deaf person, you will get a reply (an echo).


Gleann Connra

Connra’s glen


Gleann Doimhin

Deep glen


Gleann Caoin

Pleasant glen


Gleann Cair

Glen of the cat


Gearrán Bán

White horse


Goirtin a Maol

Little field of the hornless cows


Gort Loiscthe

Burnt field


Gort na gCloch

Field of the stones


Inse an Uisce

Water island



Narrow strip of land or perhaps riverside field


Coill an Iubhair

Church of the yew tree



A hillside or stony slope



The name Leix is the Anglicised form of Laoighis which is said to be derived from the name of the Ulster champion Laoiseach, great grandson of Conall Cearnach. To him was granted a fairly large territory which roughly comprised the present county area, secluding that portion now the Barony of Slieve Margy. Originally included in Laoighis was the tract of land between the Nore and the Slieve Bloom Mountains, which covers Kyle, Castletown, Camross and part of Borris-in-Ossory. There is a record of one Berach, King of Laoighis, making a grant to St. Molua for his church at Clonfert Molua, now called Kyle. But, in or about the tenth century, this part of the territory of Laoghis was annexed to Ossory to make up for the loss of Southern Ossory territory, owing to the incursions of the Déise of Waterford.

Genealogists trace the descent of the Laoighis men from the Ulidian (Ulster) hero Conall Cearnach, which means that the Laoighis men claim a separate origin from the people of Leinster in general.


Long Phort

Big fort


Móin na Sop

Bog of the wisps


Móin lc Nuadh

McNoone’s bog


Móin Ratha

Fort in the bog


Tribe lands of the Foircheallain.

The tribe called the Foirchealáin were those who traced their descent from Foircheallach, son of Doborcan, who was eight in descent from one of the founders of the Kingdom of Ossory, Aengus Osrithe.


In the Book of Leinster the explanation of this name is given as coming from Aengus Osrithe, (the Deer Found), because he is said to have been found among wild deer. He was the son of Crimthann. His mother was Cannait, daughter of MacDedad and sister of Curoi MacDaire.

There is an alternative explanation, of a libellous nature, probably invented by the Déise, which derives Ossory from Os Eirighe, (the pace or the speed of the deer, said to have been the way the Ossorians ran before the Déise).


Srathan Buidhe

Yellow stream



Pointed or prominent hill

1. Neilstown

21. Marymount

41. Annagh

61. Glenaglass

81. Roundwood

2. Stooagh

22. Rosnaclonagh Outside

42. Coldmanscurragh

62. Northgrove

82. Glenbower

3. Garranbawn

23. Caher (Retrenched)

43. Coolrain

63. Dernamanagh

83. Clonincurragh

4. Gortlusky

24. Glendine

44. Shanderry

64. Derryduff

84. Danganroe

5. Glenconra

25. Glenamoon

45. Windsor

65. Butterisland

85. Brisha

6. Island

26. Derrycarrow

46. Derryarrow

66. Bordowin

86. Derrycon

7. Carrowreigh

27. Derrinduff

47. Gorteenamela

67. Inchanisky

87. Rosalee

8. Keeloge North

28. Rossnadough

48. Cardtown

68. Whitefield

88. Drim

9. Ballinrally

29. Camross

49. Knocknagad

69. Lacka

89. Shanavour

10. Cloncully

30. Monnagh

50. Garrafin

70. Rossnadown

90. Paddock

11. Toortaun

31. Rosnaclonagh Inside

51. Tinnakill

71. Bughorn

91. Deerpark

12. Glenkitt

32. Caher (Custodia)

52. Glebe

72. Clonin

92. Clash

13. Gortnagloch

33. Cummer

53. Derrynaseera

73. Ballyhorahan

93. Rushin

14. Derrylahan

34. Monelly

54. Coolnagour

74. Crannagh

94. Mountrath

15. Clonghil

35. Mounthall

55. Laurel Hill

75. Camphill

95. Derrycanton

16. The Derries

36. Cappanarrow

56. Baunreigh

76. Monicknew

96. Badgerhill

17. Glenall

37. Johnsborough

57. Castleconor

77. Bockagh

97. Anatrim

18. Shrahanboy

38. Ballina

58. Moher East

78. Mountainfarm

98. Drimhill/Quarryfarm

19. Aughduff

39. Kileen

59. Moher West

79. Drimmo

99. Larch Hill

20. Rosnacreenagh

40. Longford

60. Monasop

80. Killanure

100. Goss Brook

101. Aghamore

Map of Camross