Historical Irish Corpus
1600 - 1926

Names of Birds and Plants in Aran.

Names of Birds and Plants in Aran.
Mac Piarais, Padraig,
Mac Néill, Eoin
Composition Date
Connradh na Gaedhilge

Search Texts

1600 1926


The following are a few names of birds
heard in Aran. It should be remarked
that very often the same bird may be
known by different names in different
localities, and also that in many cases we
find the same bird know by two or more
names in one and the same place. It would
be interesting if others would send any
vairiants of the following names with which
they may be familiar. Names of birds,
insects, plants etc., are in more danger of
dying out than most other words, as with
the growth of Anglicization the people are
losing their old love of, and close association
with nature:—

Gealbh(pronounced gealún), sparrow;
gealbhan croige, linnet; ainleóg, swallow(in
some places the corrupted form fáinleóg is
used: cf. athach and fathach); buidheóg,
yellow hammer; spideóg, robin; druid, star-
ling; caitheóg, jackdaw (I am certain that
caitheóg is what I heard, but Mr. Lloyd tells
me that he has never heard anything but
cabhóg, which is the form given by O'Reilly);
faoich mhór, loon(faoich is also applied to
a large periwinkle: faoicheann is the ordi-
nary word for periwinkle); fiach dubh, the
large raven(everybody knows the proverb,
“Ní chaillfidh na sagairt an tsainnt go
dtiocfaidh an chaint 'uig an bhfiach dubh;”)
another proverb in which the name of the
fiach occurs is “Dá mbeadh mil ag an
bhfiach ba mhinic a liach fliuch;” ruadhán
aille, or alla, sparrow-hawk; caislín cloch,
stone-chatterer; glasóg, wagtail (glasóg, is
also the Irish name of the black pollock,
whence the celebrated Aill na nGlasóg,
anglicé, the Classing Rocks, takes its name),
ladhrán trágha, sand-tripper; cruiteach,
curlew; faosg, snipe; caológ, caológ riabhach;
described to me by my informant as “the
grey bird that attends the cuckoo” — I
believe it to be a bird of the lark family;
cleabhar caoch, céarsach(?), tráineach(?),
all three of these I have heard applied to
the corncrake, — the first, however, I rather
think to be the name of some bird of game;
filip-a'-chleite, — this I have heard applied
both to the magpie and to another bird of

L. 306

about the same sixe wearing a top-knot;
olcadán, owl(people often say to children
who stand idly by, listening to conversation
which does not concern them: “Níl go
[=de] shamhail agat acht an t-olcadán, —
súla móra agus lag-amharc, gan umhail ar
bith ar a ghnó aige?”).

Eagle is iolrach in Aran, and seagull,
faoileán, the first syllable, however, pro-
nounced to rhyme with fly.

Some name of flowers, etc.:-

Méaracán púca(puca's thimble), blue
bell; déosadán, fóthanán, feóthanán, thistle;
tom fóthanan, a clump of thistles; neantóg,
nettle; seamhair(or seamair), Mhuire, four-
leaved shamrock(seamar= clover, whence
seamróg; seamar-Mhuire = female pim-
pernel, according to O'Reilly, but in the
Aran word the r is slender; seamaide
(féir), blade(of grass) — seimide is used
elsewhere; tráithnín=(blade run to seed): seil-
trim, kind of reed growin in damp places;
rannach, fern; bainne-bó-bleachtán, weed
growing in potatoes. I have also
heard it applied to the buttercup, the prim-
rose and the cowslip); bleachtán buidhe,
weed growing among potatoes; bláth
buidhe, dandelion; cean-chosach, a blue
wild-flower whose name in English I don't
know; cruibín, kind of currant-like wild
berry, very pleasant to taste — it is so-called
from a fancied resemblance of a cluster to an
animal's paw(for the same reason a potatoe
in seed is called cruibín, another name is
buirillín); sugh-craobh, rasberry; sugh-
salmhan(=talmhan?), strawberry; spío-
nán, gooseberry; cosán, a creeping plant
such, for instance, as that on which the
sloe grows.

Pádraig Mac Piarais.

[The word for “jackdaw” is also given as cádhóg and
cág. It seems to be merely the ending —óg, added to
the cá(English “caw”) which represents the birds cry.
But in Aran, as well as I remember, the term was applied
to the chough, a commoner hird there than the jackdaw,
or as common.

My recollection of term for “periwinkle” is
“faocha,” geinitive, “faochan,” nom. pl., faochain,”
declined like “lacha.” The bird, faocha mhór.

“Crutach,” not “cruiteach,” I heard for curlew. I
is a fem. noun. “Creabhair caoch,” woodcock. “Creab-
har” also= horsefly.
I think seamair Mhuire is genitive, and that M of
Muire is not aspirated after the nominative. So “bal-
lach Muire,” a gorgeosly coloured variety of the
“ballach” or rockfish. Dubhchosach, fem., is the Aran
name for the maidenhair fern, which is so abundant on the
islands. Blath Bealtaine was applied to a kind of mea
dow-orchid. The crúibín is the crannbery. The black-
thorn, or sloe-bush, is, of course, not generally a creeping
plant, but in Aran it seems to grow flat against the rocks
for shelter, or perhaps is browsed int that shape.

Geabhróg was the name of the sea-swallow. Ladhrán,
sand-snipe. Préachán, saddle-back crow. Cailleadh
dhubh, shag or cormorant. Braighell, the large cormorant.
Roilleach, the redshank. Eun aille, the guilemot.
Crosán, the puffin. ED.]

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