Bofield - What’s in a Name and where are we now?

For decades now it has been accepted that the Irish for Bofield is Gort na mBó or loosely translated the field of the cow or the dairying place of the cow. The fact that the place had this name first was due to Beaufield House being there and the area around it – in fact quite a small part of Carracastle is referred to as Carracastle West on the map and is the address for Bofield School.

The name has been used in the name plaque on the Handball Alley built there in 1980, and the School built there in 1895. Bofield Cross is the focal point of the area and in former times there was a forge, a shop and the Laurel Ball Room and there was a school at the cross from 1860 to 1895. Further down on the Ballina side was The Bofield Gaelic Club Room from 1928 to 1940.

In the past few months a new sign for Bofield has been erected on the R294 from Ballina to Boyle reading Bofield and in Irish An Gort Crom. This is a new Irish name and when seeing it first one would think it had been confused with An Cheathru Crom or Carracrom of which the full name is An Cheathru Cromlech – the Quarter of the Cromlech. This is named after the passage tomb in the village.

It would appear that the same would apply to this new Irish language version of Bofield. But why is the word Crom in Bofield? There are no standing stones in Bofield. There is however a Cromlech or ancient stone feature that has been preserved in a field on the Ballina Road overlooking Log an Annaidh and Creggaun.

This is also a wedge tomb. This is the Cromlech that forms the basis for the new Irish language version of the place name and appears the most plausible explanation for why Gort na mBó has not been put on the sign meaning the field of the Cromlech.

There have been two history books written on the Bofield area in 1996 and 2000 and both have looked at the meaning of the word Gort na mBó and it would appear that the new version makes much more sense than what was previously there, and furthermore it is good to see a name that did not have official recognition and was never included on a signpost before now, there to indicate the name – at the point on the road opposite the field where the Cromlech is, it would be a good idea to put up a stone wall with the place name on it - same as plaques - to indicate where the first school in Bofield was, as well as the year for the ruins of the one at the Cross.

In any event, here is a new development in our understanding of the place name Bofield in Irish, proving that the origin of all place names are to be found in the nature of the topography and the archaeology also. The study of place names is a fascinating subject indeed.

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