Old Skerries Place Names

I met a friend recently who remarked that he had seen me a few days before striding down Lummox’s Hill. Lummox’s Hill (6)? Where on earth was Lummox’s Hill? I was taken aback. No, I couldn’t for the life of me remember – that is if I ever knew where this oddly named hill was located. This little incident set me thinking about old Skerries place names – unknown to the younger generation and indeed in the process of being forgotten even by those of my own.

Is Walker’s Corner (3), the hiring corner, still remembered? Do people still talk of the Bay Wall (2) or the White Wall (5) or the Gooseacre (7)?

Over the way from Walker’s Corner is the Bay Wall. Miss Alice McGuinness whose cottage forms part of it tells me that the reason why it is so called is that the Bay could be seen from it at one time.

That part of Thomas Hand Street extending from there to the Monument was and is still called Cross Street (1), and before that Jem Hynes’ Street. Who Jem was or whence he came or what his claim was, we do not know.

I well remember when the present Church Street was called Chapel Street (4) – a name that survived from the time when there was, in fact, a chapel rather than a church there.

Image is adapted from O.S. photograph taken from a height of 6km. in the year 2000.


Where was this chapel? It may and probably was on the site of the present church – but the late Mary Phelan, who lived at No.62 opposite the present hairdresser’s establishment, used to say that her late uncle and aunt with whom she lived claimed that their cottage was once “a mass house”.

It could have been used temporarily as such while the 1823 chapel was being built. We shall probably never know for certain. The 1823 church was more often refered to as “a chapel” than a church.

Nobody would now wish that we should revert to Chapel Street in this instance or that we should revive Rat’s Row (8) for that lower part of Hoar Rock that meets The Square (9) – nor Jem Hynes’ Street. But at least the last named was called a street – not a lane. We’ve had, and indeed still have, far too many lanes in Skerries.

Little Strand Street in my young days was Barrack Lane and before that Rooney’s Lane (11). We still have Convent Lane (10) – formerly Gowan’s Lane – McLoughlin’s Lane (14), Collooney’s Lane (12), Friar’s Lane (13), Weldon’s Lane (16) and Brookville Lane (15).

As we proceed up Lummox’s Hill aforementioned, on our left is the Gooseacre. Much of it has suffered from erosion but happily in recent years the sea hasn’t been making the same inroads as formerly. Gooseacre, to me at any rate, is a nice evocative word – a word with a touch of poetry and I think it should be preserved.

The old name for what is now the Rugby grounds is Roch Coill Eochach – the rath of yew wood.

Who now remembers The Crack? It is at the northen end of Strand Street just beyond Ruigrok’s House and runs in an arc in the direction of the harbour. It was probably so called because it broke the alignment of the houses of the street.

You can imagine it as a crack in the wall of the street. It was a postal address that I’m sure the residents didn’t like. Fancy “The Crack, Skerries, Oct 9th” as your letterhead! That would surely tickle the risibilities of the recipient. It is now officially called Sand Banks , appropriately enough for there used to be sand dunes galore on the strand side of it.

The stretch of road which extends from there to the Sailing Club Yard – formerly Morris’s Yard – was called The Dorn It’s a word not to be found in an English dictionary – it is probably of Scandinavian origin – and we are not sure what precisely it means.

We also used speak of the Dorn of Shinnick, when referring to that part of the island where boats land. This seems to have been the context in which it was used, a sandy or shingly part of an island where boats can land.

Like the word wore for seaweed, peculiar to this north-eastern corner of Fingal, we should have a care to preserve them.

On old maps you will find Red Island called Haven Island. Now the word haven, it is interesting to note, is both Danish and Norwegian for harbour. So it means simply an island with a harbour. The designation Red Island is firmly established at least since the mid 19th. century, for we have in the archives a letter from Francis Gowan dated 1858 and he gives his address as Red Island.

Morris’s Yard likewise has a claim to remembrance for it was once a hive of industry. Schooners and smacks were built there and ships salvaged after shipwreck were repaired there. A deep trench was dug on the South Strand to enable ships to be launched. But when I was young its glory had already departed. I can only recall great piles of scrap iron which found a ready market after the outbreak of World War 1, the iron being a necessary component of shells to kill or maim.

What is really the east strand we call the South Strand – not out of perverseness as you might imagine, but rather because, as there is a north there must be a south.

Other names that shouldn’t be overlooked are: The Wildcat Lane (in Mourne View), Hart’s Hill, The Kybe, Shallock Hill, The Mill Pond, Gaveney’s Gap, Eevers’ Lane or Ivor’s Lane.

Paddy Halpin SHS 1980