Watch: Townland expert discusses place names plus exported Derry/Londonderry divide

The director of a database of over 30,000 Northern Ireland place names told an audience at Stormont recently that he thinks the Derry/Londonderry split in New Hampshire would be an interesting topic of academic study.

Professor Mícheál B. Ó Mainnín Professor was speaking at a ‘Home and Away: Exploiting the Corpus of Northern Ireland Placenames for Cultural Tourism’ seminar at Stormont.

He was referring to the fact that people emigrating from Londonderry brought their place names with them and that this could now help drive cultural tourism back to Northern Ireland.

“We also have the Derry/Londonderry examples. We have some examples in the USA (Vermont) and Canada (Nova Scotia) and Australia (New South Wales),” he said.

“We have an intriguing one off Chile, I’m not sure how that happened, Londonderry Island, off Tierra del Fuego. I’m really not quite sure, who was on tour at that point but they brought their name with them.

“And, of course, we have the very interesting examples of Derry and Londonderry, side by side, and here we have them in New Hampshire,” he said.

Referring to the latter example, he said he wasn’t sure if this represented exported sectarianism.

“I’m really not sure if that’s a testimony of division, I’m really not sure that people are bringing divisions from home. Perhaps they are. It’s obviously a subject worthy of study. But I also do wonder if there’s a sense of humour here, and are people exploiting the capacity of using more than one form of a name to distinguish places here, side by side in the New World.”

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