Professor Mícheál Ó Mainnín (QUB)
The Northern Ireland Place-Name Project is engaged in research on the history of over 30,000 local place-names. These names, of varying linguistic origin (primarily Irish, English and Scots), give Ulster place-names their distinct character. Furthermore, emigrants to the New World brought their names with them: e.g. Derry and Londonderry in New Hampshire (USA); and Belfast in Maine (USA); Prince Edward Island (Canada); and, Christchurch (New Zealand). Names of places connect communities at home and abroad, but their potential has never been exploited, particularly in the context of the Irish and Scotch-Irish diaspora who are conscious of their roots in the island of Ireland. This seminar will consider ways in which this might be accomplished, with the assistance of the online database of Northern Ireland place-names, www.placenamesni.org. It will also consider how place-names can be exploited to build cultural capital at home, to the benefit of the heritage and tourism industries.
Date of seminar: 3 April 2014.