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House Names hereabouts

In Ireland, once you leave the main cities, many roads have no name, and many houses have no number. If those who live in a house have an unusual family name, the postman will know where to deliver the letters, but if they have a common names like Kavanagh or Tobin (as most do) then the only way to know which house is which is to give the house a name. It’s very common around here. My address has no numerical information at all: I live in an unnumbered house on an unnamed road, so, like many others, I gave my house a name. Here are a few house names I’ve seen in the neighbourhood.

House names can tell you a lot about the inhabitants. You just need to know how to interpret them. Read on!

#1 Tandaaval

Tandaaval. House names can be very quirky, and tell you  lot about their owners, if you know how to interpret them. But who can figure this one out? Splitting the name in two, Google Translate tells me that "tanda aval" is Spanish for "Batch endorsement" - rather a lame name for a house!

After driving past this sign hundreds of times,  I finally dropped in and asked the man of the house. And here's what he told me: "I have four kids, Tanya, Davida, Avril and Alan... " I think you can figure out the rest 🙂

#4 Éirí na Gealaí

Éirí na Gealaí - that's Irish for "The Rising of the Moon". On the left is a crescent moon and on the right a pike, the latter instantly recognisable as the iconic weapon of the Irish rebels in the 1798 rebellion against British rule, which had many of its focal points here in Wexford. "The Rising of the Moon" is the title of a rebel song, and of a play with the same theme. Not too hard to interpret this house name. 

Here's that rebel song performed by the Dubliners


What do you think?


  1. I had no idea. Very cool and interesting. Not sure I would love being a post master there, but this is so unusual. I just figured it was all done the same worldwide, and I don’t know why. Seems a bit odd that I thought this, now that I think about it.

    • Well, it is changing, though slowly. Since last year, every house of other building has an Eircode (like a zip), but for some reason the post office doesn’t use them, so putting one on the front of a letter doesn’t help. But I can use it to find a place on my SatNav, which is invaluable 🙂

  2. Similar to the farms in Panama that have names of the owners or a special name like The Capricorn which was our former farm in the Cocle Province in Panama.

  3. That is fascinating! Although most houses in the UK do have numbers, people still like to give them names. I grew up in a house called Rokeby – it had originally been bought by my grandfather, who had fond memories of walking in Rokeby Park, near his boyhood home in Barnard Castle, County Durham. Near where I live now is a memory of the TV show Dallas, which featured the Southfork Ranch – our local equivalent is called Southshovel!

    • Southshovel – you’ve got to be kidding! I think I remember reading that all those placenames ending -by are of Viking origin, which I suppose makes sense if it’s in Durham 🙂

      • You’re quite right – place names ending in “by” or “thorpe” are almost all in what was originally the Danelaw – the eastern side of England that was settled by Danes. I live in a village that was on the border of the Danelaw, so within a few miles of here are Ratby, Groby and Cadeby, but also Nailstone and Osbaston – the “ton/tone” ending is Anglo-Saxon. My own village – Barlestone – is another one.

        • Oh, I’m surprised about -thorpe; I assumed it was West Germanic as we have it in Dutch dorp as well as German Dorf. Do you happen to know of the origin of the placename suffixes -leigh and -low? We seem to have a lot of them in the east here (Farmleigh, Wicklow), which was heavily settled by the Norsemen.

          • Thorpe is from Old Scandinavian, so it could easily have found its way into the Germanic languages – it meaning an outlying farmstead or settlement.

            Leigh is Old English, meaning a woodland clearing. Low is Old Scandinavian for meadow – Wicklow is Viking’s meadow. As you say, those pesky Danes arrived in Ireland as well as England!