The importance of place names in our society cannot be underestimated, and it is important that we use the rich variety of native place names in County Laois, to ensure that we do not lose this vital part of our heritage forever.
County Laois has a rich and varied tradition of placenames. There are over 1,000 townlands in the county, each with a distinctive name, reflecting the natural, built and cultural heritage of the locality. In the past every field and local area had its own identity.
Today, care needs to be taken when deciding on names for new developments such as housing estates, streets, shopping centres etc. and their associated signage. It is important that modern placenames reflect the local topography, history, culture or ecology, such as ancient fields, hills, woods, roads, people and significant events.
The Placenames Committee
The Laois Placenames Committee was established in 2005 to advise the Planning Authority on approving names given to new developments. The membership of the Laois Placenames Committee is drawn from the following sectors: Elected Members of Laois Local Authorities (members of each of the Laois County Council Area Committees and Portlaoise and Mountmellick Town Councils), the Housing, Social and Cultural Strategic Policy Committee, Laois Heritage Forum and the County Community Forum, with support from the Planning, Housing and Heritage Sections of Laois County Council. Information on the operation of the Placenames Committee is available to download.
Guidelines for Developers
Naming of residential estates should reflect local place names and local people of note, heritage, language or topographical features as appropriate, and should incorporate traditional and Irish language place names from the locality as much as possible. Incorporation of existing Townland names into the names of new developments is encouraged. However, the use of Townland names from adjacent or other areas is not appropriate.
Placenames should be easily pronounced and the use of Irish language placenames is encouraged, where possible. The use of bilingual or Irish-language signs is encouraged. Irish versions of names should be checked for correct spelling and grammar before inscribing the nameplate. It is important to ensure that no duplication of names occurs in order to avoid any confusion as regards postal addresses.
Agreement of New Placenames
The Planning Authority, in consultation with the Placenames Committee, may accept or reject proposed names, and may occasionally recommend alternative names for consideration by the developer. The decision of the Planning Authority on whether or not proposed names are appropriate will be final.
Detailed guidance for developers on researching and naming new developments is available to download, or may be ordered from the Laois County Council Planning Office.