Lahinch or Lehinch…. which is correct ?

Welcome to Lahinch

Lahinch or Lehinch ??

You would be forgiven for being puzzled when deciding what name to call the village you have just entered and where we reside, Lahinch. The main road from the east is the N67 and as you approach you meet a wonderful stone gilt engraved sign welcoming you to Lahinch!! The name Lahinch derives from the Irish name Leacht Ui Chonchubhair  which is translated as the tomb stone of O’Connor. O Connor’s castle is to be seen at the mouth of the Rivers Inagh and Cuilneach by the bridge on the R478 or Liscannor road as we prefer to call it. Legend has it that O Connor is buried in the grounds of the castle. The name Lahinch has been in use for well over 120 years and should therefore be considered as the official name for the village.

Leacht Ui Chonchubhair

O Connor’s Castle

The crux of the issue goes to another more Anglicised naming of the village taken from the Irish description of the village as “leath Inse” which literally translates as “Half an Island”. This accurately describes the topography of the village which is bounded on the west by the Atlantic and on the North by the rivers Inagh and Cuilneach and Dealagh. The resulting annexing of territory to water makes us … half an island!!. In the old Anglo maps for the area the general barony is called Lehinchy  and it was often referred to phonetically as Lahinchy ( derived from leath Inse ) The signs which have appeared in recent years were inspired by a special commission set up by the County Council to examine the correct place names for towns and villages. they took inspiration from old maps and historic records before unilaterally imposing our new moniker… without any public debate. Thus we have signs like the one on the right as you enter Lahinch.Lehinch sign The objection to this name is that if it is deemed to be the official name for the village then why use the Irish translation of An Leacht? the fuller Leacht Uì Chonchubhair should be used. More correct however, would have been “Leath Inse” which gives Lehinch its true meaning!! The mind boggles at the contortions which brought all this to pass on us in Lahinch. You might ask if we have any backbone at all against the irreverence foisted on us by the NRA and the Clare County Council sages?

Well it seems there is one at least who agrees with me and has taken crude if not affirmative action. The less than professional correction to the sign is on display at the “New” Bridge on the Liscannor road. Lahinch amended signWe should salute the effort as being one of a true spirited Lahinchite or Lahinchonian !! Would that the officials who foisted the anomaly on us would take a leaf from the sage who half amended the previous work of questionable validity. The fine village of Lahinch deserves to be treated better. If a name is in popular use for over 100 years then it has passed the time and entered into official usage. Our sign makers and errectors would do well to heed the course of the vernacular and popular culture and recant their ways. So when you are deciding how to refer to us on Twitter, Facebook and other electronic means…. decide if you are a Johnny come lately go with the flow or stand on well grounded principles. I’m going to continue to use Lahinch in the name of Vaughan Lodge Hotel – The Lodge at Lahinch!!!   The golf club will surely not change its name either!!

Michael Vaughan – May 2014

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