Seoirse Ó Dochartaigh’s love of Irish place names began when he was seven or eight. A friend told him that he and his family were going on holidays to Ballyhornan. “Where’s that?” Seoirse asked, and his friend pointed in the direction of some far-away hills. “Over there”, he said. It was a green, misty region of rolling hills and tree groves. Seoirse repeated the mantra in a whisper; “Ballyhornan, Ballyhornan, Ballyhornan…”. It was a similar enchantment to that which the American sailors experienced in the musical South Pacific to “Bali Ha’i”, a mystical island, visible on the horizon but not reachable – an exotic paradise. Ballyhornan was Seoirse’s Bali Ha’i.
Know Your Place is a lovingly illustrated exploration of Irish place names that will bring you to all four corners of the island, learning the hidden stories behind the towns and villages of Ireland, by exploring the history of individual place names and how they have changed over time. It is an exploration, and not an all-embracing compendium, discussing a selection of place names from throughout the 32 counties.
In the course of this exploration, Seoirse provides some insight and enlightenment, and, perhaps, offers a challenge to some long-held (but erroneous) interpretations. The exploration of the place names of Ireland is a never-ending story.
Know Your Place will appeal to all those with an interest in Irish history and culture, and one’s sense of ‘place’ in the world.
Seoirse Ó Dochartaigh is an Irish painter and writer from Inishowen, Co. Donegal. He has made considerable contributions to the lexicography of Donegal place names, having published his findings, and given talks on the subject. As a painter, he has established himself as an artist with a highly individual vision. Among the seven books he has published is Sunlight and Shadow, exploring the world of Irish classical music, which is illustrated throughout with his paintings.