Jul 5, 2010

The Meaning of Ireland

Ireland in Irish is Éire or in old Irish, Ériu, which is the name of a goddess. In fact, many of the names of places in Ireland are derived from the names of gods or goddesses, such as the River Shannon, named for the goddess Sinann.

The English version of the name is Erin, and you've heard this in the phrase Erin go bragh, or "Long live Ireland!"

As a result, the name Erin is popular for girls, but even the name Ireland has been used. Alec Baldwin and Kim Bassinger named their daughter Ireland, and I once signed a copy of Brigid of Ireland for a pregnant woman who planned to name her baby Ireland.

Caesar called Ireland Hibernia in Latin, which means wintery. He thought the island was at the end of the earth. You've probably heard of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians, and that's where the name comes from.

The ancient Greeks used the name Ierne, and it appears on Ptolemy's map around 150 AD.
Postage stamp from Ireland.

Like so many other things about Ireland, the name is filled with mystique and romance. But basically, the name refers to mother earth from which comes all life.


It's the one place on earth
that heaven has kissed
with melody,
and meadow,
and mist.

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