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Pointy Manmade Things

Pointy Manmade Things

There are several & various terms used for pointy things in the Irish upland landscape. These are usually man made objects that stick out on the skyline. For example in Wicklow, the term ‘mottee’ is used in several places to describe a pile of stones on top of a height, I’ve even heard it used for the cairn of Lugnaquilla Mountain. A ‘moat’ or ‘mote’ is usually some form of earthen bank and I think mottee maybe a diminutive of this. Mottie Mountain is a popular name for Croaghanmoira near Glenamalure.

Elsewhere the terms ‘fear bréige or bréag’ are common, anglicised as Farbreague and the like. A fear bréag means a ‘false man’ or a ‘man like object’ and is used for a pile of stones or a cairn. A smaller feature might be called a Buachaill Bréag, where buachaill is a boy. Sometimes a townland is named Farbreague or it’s used as a hill name but in each case, it’s for some prominent pile of stones there.

Out west, the term ‘gróigín’ is likewise used for cairns. If you ever see turf footed on a bog, built into little upright clusters to dry, this is a gróig. So the term is borrowed to describe stacks and piles of stones.

Of course, English names are common too and many are in use for centuries at this stage. There’s many a Stone Man about the place, or sometimes just a Man, used to describe pillars and cairns. There’s the Sod House out on Achill, name for a cairn like a pile of sods as described in Gróigín.

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