DRAFT County Placenames Policy
Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Placenames Policy
Presented to the meeting of the Strategic Policy Committee on Culture, Community Development & Amenities held on December 5th 2007. Matter referred to the Law Department for consideration. Proposal: That, this SPC understanding the importance of placenames in our society generally and appreciating that placenames are a significant part of the heritage of this county and its people and in accordance with the various objectives set forth in the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Heritage Plan 2004-2008, adopts the following Placenames Policy and recommends to Council the establishment of a Placenames Heritage Committee to implement the policy. 1. Introduction
This County has a rich and varied placename heritage representing and reflecting the human presence in this landscape from ancient times down to the present. Whether these placenames are of Gaelic, Norse, Cambro-Norman or English/British origin, they all form the unique tapestry that is our County’s Placename Heritage. With the naming of new developments and indeed, with the changing values and tastes of society, we are in danger of losing our indigenous placenames and a significant part of our County’s heritage forever. This County of Dún Laoghaire Rathdown has a distinctive character emanating from and reflected by its placenames and street-names. Therefore, it is vitally important that an effective and comprehensive County Placenames Policy is implemented to protect and preserve this part of our County’s heritage and to promote a greater awareness, appreciation and knowledge of this placenames heritage amongst our citizens. An effective County Placenames Policy implemented by a Placenames Heritage Committee would assist and advise the County Heritage Officer and provide a valuable service for the Planning Authority. It also would provide a very worthwhile resource for the promotion of the County and enhance its image amongst our citizens, visitors and others. In this proposal the definition of ‘‘placename’’ includes the name of any province, county, city, town, village, barony, parish or townland, or of any territorial feature (whether natural or artificial), district, region or place, as shown in the maps of Ordnance Survey Ireland. (source:- Section 31, Official Languages Act, 2003) In this proposal the definition of “street” for the purposes of the term “street-names” includes part of a street and also the whole or part of any road, square, lane or other public place by whatever name known. (source:- Section 188, Local Government Act, 2001) 2. Naming of New Developments
The naming of new developments can seriously alter or damage the character of a particular area by importing inappropriate, misleading, market driven or fancifully ridiculous names for buildings, streets or areas. The manmade, natural, cultural, linguistic and social heritage of an area as reflected in its existing placenames must be preserved and indeed, this County has a wealth of such placenames from which the proposed names for new developments can and should be sourced.
DRAFT County Placenames Policy
The Planning and Development Act, 2000, permits the Planning Authority to impose conditions that require developers to consult with the County Council on the proposed naming of new developments. In this respect, an effective County Placenames Policy implemented by a Placenames Heritage Committee will provide the Planning Authority with a resource and a strategy to ensure that appropriately researched and properly agreed names which reflect the placename heritage of the area are given to all new developments. In considering any proposed new name due regard must be given, at the same time, in accordance with the objectives of the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Heritage Plan 2004-2008 (action 2.1.16 page 13), to establishing the correct Irish language version of the proposed name for signage purposes. When naming new buildings or new streets or thoroughfares and where the use of all or part of the existing placenames may lead to duplication or confusion, a new name appropriately drawn from the artistic, literary, educational, cultural and civic heritage of the County should be sourced for the development. 3. Naming Policy Guidelines
The heritage policies and guidelines governing the naming of new developments throughout the county and the erection of signage for existing placenames should, in accordance with the objectives of the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Heritage Plan 2004-2008 (action 2.1.16 page 13), be determined by the following. i. Streets and housing estates should be named in a manner that reflects and incorporates the existing local placenames, heritage, history, ecology and topography of the area. ii. In accordance with the objectives of the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Heritage Plan 2004-2008 (action 3.1.10 page 16), the names of persons of note in the artistic, literary, educational, cultural and civic life of the County who had an actual and sustained connection with the locality should be used, where appropriate, for the naming of new developments. iii. The local or colloquial name applied to an area, topographical feature or building, whether used currently or in the past, should be used or incorporated where it is deemed appropriate. iv. The use of names in the Irish language should be actively encouraged, especially where such names are sourced from the name of an existing topographical feature currently expressed in an anglicized version of an original Gaelic placename. v. Care should be taken to ensure that proposed new names are easily pronounceable. However, any attempt to re-anglicize an existing placename of Gaelic origin to meet this requirement should not be permitted. vi. Imported or market-driven names should be discouraged unless the reasons for the use of such have been established to the satisfaction of the Placenames Heritage Committee. vii. The use of the original form of those placenames which were altered, whether officially or otherwise, before or after independence to reflect the national identity, the struggle for national self determination or the constitutional position of the State should not be permitted e.g. Kingstown.
DRAFT County Placenames Policy
viii. In considering a name proposed for any new development the Placenames Heritage Committee shall have due regard to the constitutional position of the State and will disallow such terms as it deems inappropriate in this regard. ix. Petitions received by the County Council under the Local Government Act, 2001 to alter either completely or in part any existing placename shall be assessed by the Placenames Heritage Committee. 4. Interpretation & Translation of Existing Placenames
The interpretation of the existing stock of placenames is important for the public appreciation and knowledge of the County’s placename heritage. Therefore, in accordance with the objectives of the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Heritage Plan 2004-2008 (action 1.2.3 page 9) a county placenames survey should be conducted. This survey should enable a database of the existing placenames to be compiled containing such details as locality, meaning, source, Irish language version and possibly era. The database would become, in time, an invaluable resource for local historians and others. Consideration should be afforded to development of a GPS locator for each placename and street-name and to have such integrated with the placenames database. The translation of existing placenames into the correct Irish language form for use by speakers of the language and for road-signage is important in order to preserve the integrity and actual meaning of the County’s placenames. Therefore, in accordance with the objectives of the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Heritage Plan 2004-2008 (action 2.1.16 page 13) the following guidelines should apply. i. With due regard to local knowledge, research and any special circumstances utilise, as appropriate, the Irish language versions of placenames contained in the “Gazetteer of Ireland - Names of Centres of Population and Physical Features” as published in 2007 by the Placenames Branch of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. Where local knowledge and research has established that the existing Irish translation of a placename in the County is incorrectly recorded by the Placenames Branch of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, this matter should be reported and a correction sought. The Irish translations and spellings of terms such as street, road, avenue, grove, parade, park, lodge, green, lawns, crescent, lane, terrace, villas and cottages should be standardised for use throughout the County. Where a name for a new development derives from the name of a landed estate or “big house” the original name should be maintained, except where it is already placename with an established Irish language version e.g. “Aylesbury Villa” the first element should not be translated, whereas “Dunmore House” the first element is already an anglicised Gaelic placename. Where a name for a new development derives from a personal name, the variant of the surname used by the individual should be maintained, except where it is already a surname with an established Irish language version.
DRAFT County Placenames Policy
Where a placename of British origin is concerned and where such derives from a Scottish Gaelic, Welsh or Cornish language placename, the original Celtic language form of the placename should be utilised where no existing Irish language version of the British placename is available e.g. “Anglesey” (Ynys Môn), “Inverness” (Inbhir Nis), “Camborne” (Cam bryn).
Placenames Heritage Committee
In order to effectively implement the County Placenames Policy and to manage any strategies emanating from that policy, it is proposed that a Placenames Heritage Committee be established by the Culture, Community Development and Amenities Strategic Policy Committee to assist and advise the County Heritage Officer and to provide a service for the Planning Department. The Placenames Heritage Committee (PHC) would set forth and publish guidelines for the naming of new developments and in consultation with the Planning Department establish a procedure for the receipt of proposed new names including the application requirements and the assessment of proposals received by the PHC. The status of the PHC shall be advisory and consultative, however, it shall be open to the Strategic Policy Committee on Culture, Community Development & Amenities or the Council to assign other powers to the PHC as may be deemed necessary or desirable for the effective performance of its functions on behalf of the Council. The PHC should meet on a quarterly basis, or more frequently as may be required, to perform the following functions and any other such tasks as may, from time to time, be requested of the PHC by the Council or the County Heritage Officer. i. ii. Assess and decide on proposed names for new developments. Review translations and interpretations of existing placenames and street-names. Assess and advise County Officials on proposals received under Sections 190, 191, 192, 193, 194 and 195 of the Local Government Act, 2001. Advise County Officials on signage and especially the Irish language versions of placenames and street-names. Formulate and implement measures to promote an appreciation, awareness and knowledge of our County’s placename heritage amongst the general public and especially, in conjunction with local schools and heritage organisations in accordance with the various objectives of the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Heritage Plan 2004-2008.
Membership of the Placenames Heritage Committee should include: • • • • The County Heritage Officer (ex-officio Chairperson) The County Librarian and/or a qualified member of staff An appropriate senior official from the Planning Department Such appropriate officials from other Council Departments, as may be required
DRAFT County Placenames Policy
• • •
Such number of the Elected Members of the Council as may be determined by the SPC or the full Council At least two SPC Sectoral Representatives Co-option of such outside expertise as may be deemed necessary by the Placenames Heritage Committee e.g. Local & Maritime History, Irish Language etc.
Placename Assessment Procedure
The procedure for the assessment of proposed new placenames should be established by the PHC in conjunction with the Planning Department in order to ensure that the process is thoroughly transparent and consultative at all stages and that it adheres fully to the provisions of the Planning and Development Act, 2000, the Local Government Act, 2001, the Official Languages Act, 2003 and other relevant legislation and the current County Development Plan. It shall be the function of the Planning Department to guide the PHC on its adherence to the relevant legislation and the County Development Plan. After consultation with the Planning Department, the assessment procedure to be adopted by the PHC may be based on the following outline. i. A developer or an applicant may submit names for a proposed new development or change in existing placename in a format designated by the Planning Department. The Planning Department would forward any requests or placename proposals to the County Heritage Officer for consideration by the PHC The PHC may after due consideration decide to advise the Planning Department to accept or reject the name proposed. Where the proposed name has been rejected by the PHC the reasons for such must be provided to the developer or applicant by the PHC. Following the rejection of a proposed name, two or more alternative names may be suggested by the PHC for consideration by the developer or applicant. The developer or applicant may choose to either accept the PHC suggestions or to consult further with the County Heritage Officer and the PHC on the issue. The developer or applicant should then submit the final agreed proposed placename or street-name to the Planning Department for processing accordingly.
The issue of the quality and correctness of public signage for the display of placenames and street-names has always been problematic due to the lack of any coherent and easily sourced mechanisms to ascertain the correct translations of placenames and street-names to meet the Council’s obligations in respect of bilingual placename and street-name signage.
DRAFT County Placenames Policy
Advice on the correct Irish language version of a placename or street-name was generally sought on an ad-hoc basis from County Officials with a proven knowledge of the Irish language and sometimes, following consultation with the Placenames Branch of the Department of Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs. The ad-hoc nature of this arrangement has produced signage with different translations of street-names at either end of the same street or indeed, translations which are incorrectly applied to the locality because the anglicised version of a local placename may resemble another somewhere outside the County. This ignores local history, local topography and, of course, local usage including linguistic factors. Displaying our placename heritage correctly on our public signage preserves this unique heritage and promotes an appreciation and knowledge of this rich aspect of our County’s heritage amongst our own citizens and, of course, amongst visitors to the County. Therefore, the effective implementation of a County Placenames Policy is vitally important in achieving and maintaining a high standard of bilingual public placename and street-name signage. The PHC should, in accordance with the objectives of the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Heritage Plan 2004-2008 (action 2.1.16 page 13), seek to ensure through its deliberations and advice to establish an acceptable standard of bilingual public placename and streetname signage that affords equality of visibility, including the size of the lettering, to both Official Languages; that is correct and uniformly applied; that avoids quasi-translations and nonsensical constructions, both grammatically and otherwise and, in the case of newly proposed names, that they are easily pronounceable for those with little or no Irish. The PHC should formulate guidelines for the provision of signage in consultation with the Planning and Transportation Departments and possibly, consider the introduction of GPS positioning of all placename and street-name signage for inclusion of the Placenames database proposed above. 8. Review of County Placenames Policy
The review of the County Placenames Policy should be undertaken by the Strategic Policy Committees and the Council during the formulation of the next County Development Plan and then at such intervals as may be determined by the Council in consultation with the County Heritage Officer and the members of the Placenames Heritage Committee. However, when the Strategic Policy Committee on Culture, Community Development and Amenities is reviewing the current Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Heritage Plan 2004-2008 and considering the replacement for this Plan, this should provide for the inclusion of the County Placenames Policy and the Placenames Heritage Committee in the text of any future County Heritage Plan.
Michael Merrigan Genealogical Society of Ireland August 2007