Ballyree and Rathgill

Bangor puzzles me. I know where I am on the coast, but the inland suburbs confuse me.

It’s not entirely my fault. I see a townland name, snap a photograph, then check the maps and find that the street is in the wrong place.

I found Ballyree Drive in the townland of Corporation. The real Ballyree townland is a little further east. The name Ballyree comes from the Irish Baile an Fhraoigh meaning ‘townland of the heather’.

I forgive Ballyree Drive for being misplaced, because it has this joyful football mural created by Angela Ginn, showing Northern Ireland footballer Josh Magennis. Josh grew up on this estate, as was reported in the Belfast Telegraph in May 2017 and now plays for Hull City. Last week he scored for Northern Ireland against the Netherlands in a European Championship qualifying match. The team are in action again tonight, in a friendly against the Czech Republic.

My second source of confusion is Rathgill. The official name of the townland is spelled “GILL”. But look at this roundabout: GAEL.  Most people probably believe that GAEL is right, especially as the Department of Education is based in Rathgael House.

Bangor does have streets called Rathgill, but guess what? They’re in Balloo townland.

I’ve given up hope of remembering all the roundabouts in Bangor, so what’s the chances of me finding my way through its townlands?

less confusing Information

Which county are Ballyree and Rathgill in? County Down

Which civil parish are they in? Bangor

Click here for see the entry for Rathgill on the website of the Northern Ireland Place Name Project.

Click here for see the entry for Ballyree on the website of the Northern Ireland Place Name Project.


  1. Bangor is very confusing, but I am enjoying your attempts at bringing some order to it!

    IIRC, generally speaking the “Ring Road” (actually in practice now a throughpass, of course) broadly marks the outer section of “Corporation”.

    “Rathgill Community Association” did always seem to me to cover Balloo rather than “Rathgael”; in turn, further west, Ballyarnett (spelling?!) covers both what is known locally as “Kilcooley” and much of what is known locally as “Bangor West” (I’d also love to know the origin of that – no one refers to “Bangor East”!)

    Also IIRC, there are even townlands with “exclaves” around the south and west of the built-up area. It’s all quite strange, but still a lot more straightforward than Newtownabbey, where I now reside…!

    Liked by 1 person

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