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Coms Coums Corries & Kyas

Coms Coums Corries & Kyas

Those who walk the Irish uplands will be familiar with bowl like lakes nestling into the slopes under the peaks. Often backed by cliffs, the lakes are held in by a dam of moraine. In other cases there is no lake with the water sinking into a rocky floor to emerge lower down the hill. These bowl are products of the last glaciation and were the source of small glaciers that flowed downhill.

In school geography here they’d be called corries related to the Irish word ‘coire’ used for a large pot. However in the upland areas I’ve mapped there are various terms & pronunciations used. First of all in the Mayo hills, the word Coire is said more like ‘Kya’, think the car brand Kia but say it with a ‘y’. It’s a bit like the way the name Máire or Maire is said as Moya on that side of the country.

In the south east the term is Com and pronunciation is like the word ‘cow’ but stick a ‘m’ on the end – co(w)m. The photo here is of Comshinaun, more commonly labelled as Coumshingaun, but Comshinaun is the local version still in common use. There are many coms in these hills e.g. Com Tae, Com Sciollóg, Com Araglin etc and the same use applies in the Galtee and Knockmealdown hills.

Go to Kerry though and the term is more like Coum or Coom with an ‘u’ sound. So we have Coumcallee or Co(u)m Caillí and the diminutive Cummeen as Cummeenapeasta or Coimín Piast – the little hollow of the piast, a legendary water spirit like a worm or serpent.

Finally elsewhere the term is missing altogether and the word ‘log’, ‘lag’ as in Lug is more commonly used for a hollow like this.

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