Tallaght today is a new city on the edge of the capital but it is also the name of a townland, a Catholic parish and a Civil Parish. Civil parishes date back to the Anglo Norman period; Tallaght civil parish is unusually large as it contains twenty nine townlands. The original names of local townlands and geographical features such as mountains and rivers are to be found in the names of the modern streets, apartments and industrial estates of Tallaght.
The name Tallaght comes from the Irish Taimleacht meaning the plague burial place and although it pre-dated the local saint, Maelruan, the fame of his monastery meant that the area became known as Tamhleacht Maelruan. According to the Ordnance Survey Name Books, O’Donovan records the name as “Taimhleacht muintire Parthaloin- all old Irish authorities” a reference to the Parthalon people incorporating an earlier mythological meaning.
Many of the townlands in the upland areas of the parish retain their old Irish names whereas those of the lowlands reflect the changes in settlement over the centuries. The prefix baile is a common element of Irish placenames and Ballycragh, Ballycullen, Ballyroan, Ballymaice and Ballymanagh are examples. Baile usually means town or townland often referring to a farm sized townland so Cullen’s town (Ballycullen), O’Roughan’s town (Ballyroan) and the town of the monks (Ballymana) were probably originally farm sized land holdings. We can also see baile used a suffix in the townland of Corbally (Corrbhaile). The term ‘town’ on the other hand became common under the Anglo-Normans and local names such as Whitestown, Cookstown, Jobstown and Friarstown probably date from that period. As Cook and White are personal names these were probably farm sized townlands also. Whitehall may also indicate such a settlement although Nolan says that the prefix “hall” often indicated a landlord’s influence. Buaile means a cattle fold or a summer pasture or milking place – anglicised as booley, and one of Tallaght’s townland names Ballinascorney means ‘the booley of the gorge’.
On the other hand the townland of Newlands Demesne which is in the parish of Tallaght was a reflection of the landlord’s personal property that he occupied. Demesnes were often laid out to display wealth and power and planted in an ornamental fashion. The nearby Belgard, according to Nolan in Tallaght: Townland Names, is possibly derived from ‘bélat árd’ meaning the “high pass”. The townland of Belgard Deerpark formed part of the lands of Belgard Castle and was used for hunting, the earliest record for this placename is the nineteenth century. The landlords built a school nearby for their tenants.
Oldbawn was formerly known as Lisnekyllth or Lessenkeil (probably Lios na Callaighe – ‘the otherworld abode of the hag’) and first appears as Oldbawn in the records of tithes in 1547. Bán can mean a lea ground or grassy area but in this instance is taken to mean the bawn or surrounding wall of a castle or homestead. Oldcourt is an old English name. The term glaise as in Glassavullan and Glasamucky means a little stream. O’Donovan gives “streamlet of the swineherd” for Glaise Muicidhe and stream of the little summit for Glaise a Mulláin / Bhulláin.
Nolan, W. Tallaght: Townland Names