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What's in a name? Westmeath Field Names Recording Project

Melanie McQuade
Westmeath Heritage Office

The names of fields can tell us much about our local area; how people related to the landscape, as well as the history and traditions of the area. Since 2018, several community groups across Westmeath have taken part in the Westmeath Field Names Recording Project to collect field names in their area. All of the field names collected are being uploaded to https://meitheal.logainm.ie/westmeath-field-names/. Some very interesting results are emerging. Project coordinator Aengus Finnegan has been analysing the results to date and notes that a higher percentage (10 – 15%) of names of Irish language origin are recorded in the northwest of the County indicating that Irish survived in use longer there than in other parts of the county. Interestingly, many of the Irish names collected in 2018-19, 80 years on, were not recorded in the 1937/8 Schools’ Folklore Collection. This suggests that a great many Irish-language field names went unrecorded in 1937/8 and underlines the importance of the living tradition in 2019, and the pressing need to record these names now. To mark National Heritage Week a project outline will be presented along with some of the more interesting field names collected to date.

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