Green School ] [ Sport ] [
History ] [ Pupils work ] [
Links ] [ About us ] [
Extra Curricular ] [ Archive ]
We are very grateful to Mrs Coffey who sent in this very interesting article which was written by Brendán Coffey.
MEANING OF PORTLAW
is no problem with the derivation of the first part of the word : Port
meaning a river bank. All are in agreement on this. It is the second part (the
"-law') which gives rise to a difference of interpretation.
Three possibilities have been put forward over the years:
The ANGLO SAXON theory.
= bank and the "law" originating from the Anglo Saxon word “lagh”
meaning a hill. This idea is mentioned in Canon Patrick Power's Place Names
of the Deise and Canon Power's views carry serious weight. Canon Power,
however, does not take direct responsibility for the theory but attributes it
to the Slieverue scholar, John O'Donovan of Ordnance Survey fame (I806 -
1862). The Anglo Saxon (lagh = hill) origin for Portlaw is not mentioned by
Dr, Henebry. When taken objectively on its own merits, the theory would seem
to be lacking in substantial back up on the grounds that
The "LACH" (= friendly) theory.
The "STONY RIVER BANK" theory.
then how can Dr. Henebry or anyone explain the disappearance of the
"d" sound in the middle of the word? Cladach to Cládhach (or clách)
? Not really a big problem. The middle consonant is often glossed over (with a séimhiú)
in the spoken word as the Irish language evolved. Take leabhar for example,
meaning a book. In old Irish this was LEBOR (no séimhiú) from the latin Liber.
Similarly Dé Domhnaigh (Sunday) comes from Dies Domini (The day of the
Lord) but over time we put in a seimhiú and dropped the "m" sound. Máthair
(mother) was originally MATIR (no séimhiú) from the latin Mater. Fabhal
(as in fabhalscéal = a fable) pronounced "foul" comes from FABULA
etc. etc. To this day Irish speakers of the English language (in Waterford and
elsewhere) have no trouble in slipping in a "séimhiú" in an English
word resulting in the dropping of a consonant. "Gimme two Fantas, a gin
and tomaha juice and a large bohel. In many parts, WATER is pronounced waher.
MIGHTY becomes moihy etc.. So there is no big deal in explaining how
"cladach" could come in time to be pronounced "cládhach" (
or clách ) without the "d" sound.
I would therefore respectfully submit -
without being dogmatic - that the cladach derivation is the most plausible of
the three propositions put forward.. It makes good sense - especially when to
this day, you can look over the bridge at low water and by the shimmering stream
you see with your own eyes those myriads of small Clodiagh- washed stones
looking up at you. They are that Stony River Bank - the Stony River Bank that
tells you its name -PORTCLADHACH - PORTLACH - PORTLAW.