Bawnboy and Templeport
History Heritage Folklore
by Chris Maguire

ORIGINS OF ‘BAWNBOY’ AS A PLACE NAME

The design on the right is an Artist’s Impression of ‘A Bawn’ based on a drawing by local artist Patrick Duffy. The Place Name, Bawnboy comes from the Irish, An Bábhún Buí – The yellow bawn. Under the terms of the Ulster Plantation, planters were obliged to build a bawn and castle. Bawns were built for two purposes;

a) Defence       b) A cattle enclosure.

From the window structure of our Bawn – windows narrow to the outside and broad on the inside – it is obvious that it was used for defence purposes. The adjective ‘Buí’ (boy) meaning yellow, got its name from the colour of the sand used in the building of the bawn.

In an extract from Breifne 1958, referring to the bawn of Bawnboy, P. O’Gallachair (1622 Survey of Cavan) states: “Sir Richard Greames, holdeth 1000 acres of this land, upon which there is built a Bawne of stone and lyme, sixty foot square and nine foot high, with a little stone house within, where in Lieutenant William Ruttledge dwelleth and hath a lease thereof and of 200 acres of land for 21 yeares and the rest of Sir Richard’s 1000 acres are sett to the Irish from yeare to yeare, who plowgh after ye Irish fashion.” (British Museum Ms. 4756)

Davies U.J.A. 10, (1947) p.121 states: “The Castle, at Bawnboy consisted of a small Bawn and house………. A half-tower at the meeting of the front and back drives, of internal diameter about 5 yards, is built with an archaic-looking batter, and may have been the north-east tower of the bawn.”

In his Archaeological Inventory of Co. Cavan (1995) Patrick F. O’Donovan states: “All that survives are the remains of a featureless D-shaped or open-backed tower (int. diam. 5m. N.S.) built of un coursed rubble masonry.

The Ordnance Survey Map 9, shows the position and lay out of the Bawn, tower and house (See Map opposite).

For many years we did not understand the meaning of the place name ‘Bawnboy’. We can only conclude that the yellow walls of this striking landmark provided our Gaelic speaking ancestors with a meaningful place name for the bawn itself and the village that grew up beside it – formerly known as An Bádhbhdhún Buidhe and spelled today as An Bábhún Buí.


Artist's impression of a "Bawn" by M. Cullivan

 
Map of part of Bawnboy Demesne showing the "Bawn"

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Last update: 9 August, 2010 22:26