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Ancient Town or Historical Name ?

Ancient Town or Historical Name ?

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Posted Mon 17 Aug 2020 2:29 AM
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I have been trying to locate the location of and historical significance of a village/town called Runiskillen. I keep being referred to Eniskillen, though.  Anyone familiar with Runiskillen? Could it have been an early name of Eniskillen?  Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank You

Roger Maxey
White Pine, Tennessee, USA
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Posted Mon 17 Aug 2020 8:46 AM
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Hi Roger,

Searching for old town names can be a bit tricky as many names were only spoken and not written down sometimes.

Enniskillen gets its old name from its Irish-language designation: Inis Ceithleann – Cethlenn’s Island. Local legend has it that Cethlenn, a fierce warrior in Irish mythology, was struck by an arrow and tried to swim across the River Erne to escape. 

I have tried townlands.ie but also have found no reference to Runiskillen, can you share with us the documents that you have seen the town name written on?

Hopefully, your fellow members or our industry partners will be able to help on this one!

Speak soon, 
Martin

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Posted Mon 17 Aug 2020 3:20 PM
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Derry~Londonderry
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Hi Roger

As you have discovered inconsistency in spelling of place names (and surnames) is well known to those who have conducted research into their Irish family history. Place names, originally in Gaelic, were anglicised from the 17th century, by settlers with little knowledge of the Irish language. This resulted in many different spellings of the same place name. An ‘official’ and standardised spelling of townland names for all Ireland was established, by 1842, by the Ordnance Survey and published in the Townland Index and on Ordnance Survey maps.  

As Martin confirms no Irish place name of Runiskillen is recorded in the Townland Index. This, of course, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist; it could be a corruption/misspelling of a place name. 

Although a search of the Placenames Database of Ireland at https://www.logainm.ie reveals no Runiskillen it makes 2 possible suggestions the town of Enniskillen in County Fermanagh and the townland of Rinakilleen in County Mayo.

If you suspect that your ancestors were from the province of Ulster and in particular from County Fermanagh it would seem reasonable to assume that Runiskillen refers to Enniskillen. Enniskillen played a significant role in the Williamite War in Ireland, 1689 to 1691, when locally raised regiments operating out of Enniskillen attacked Jacobite forces throughout Connacht and Ulster. Brief history of Enniskillen can be viewed at https://www.libraryireland.com/topog/E/Enniskillen-Tyrkennedy-Fermanagh.php 

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Posted Mon 17 Aug 2020 7:23 PM
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Thank You to all that have responded.  I appreciate your time and endeavors.

The family name relative to Runiskillen is Macguire.  My family reference has that Patrick Macguire was born in Runiskillen in 1850.  Further reading leads me to think as my responders have alluded.  It seems that Eniskillen is (or is near) a Macguire Family stronghold.

Thank You, again !  I hope to make a visit to the ancestrial home when this worldwide pandemic curse is over.

Stay Well !

Roger
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Posted Mon 17 Aug 2020 10:10 PM
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Derry~Londonderry
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Hi Roger

You can read all about the Maguire story and their association with Enniskillen Castle (still standing today and housing a museum) at https://www.enniskillencastle.co.uk/history-heritage/the-maguire-story

Maguire, also spelt as MacGuire/McGuire, is the single most common name in its homeland of County Fermanagh. The Maguires became the leading sept in Fermanagh. The first reference to the Maguires in The Annals of The Kingdom of Ireland by the Four Masters (a chronicle of Irish history from ‘the earliest period to theyear 1616’) is in the year 956; in that year Tanaidhe Maguire was killed by the Vikings. 

The Maguires became prominent around 1200 when Donn Mor Maguire established the sept around Lisnaskea. Donn Carrach Maguire, who died in 1302, was the first Maguire chief of all Fermanagh. For the next three centuries the Maguires were one of the most powerful and important families in Ulster, with their chief residence at Enniskillen Castle.  The Maguires were also to the forefront in Gaelic resistance to English attempts to pacify Ireland during the Nine Years War(1594-1603).

Prior to civil registration of births in Ireland you will have to rely on church baptismal registers to confirm birth details of your ancestor Patrick Macguire born 1850. I would recommend that you examine the Irish Catholic Parish Records database which is free to view to see if you can identify any relevant potential matches at https://www.findmypast.co.uk/articles/world-records/full-list-of-the-irish-family-history-records/life-events-birth-marriage-death/ireland-roman-catholic-parish-congregational-records     
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Posted Tue 18 Aug 2020 1:08 PM
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Hi Roger,

I'm glad you found Brian and Martin's findings useful. A visit to your ancestral home would definitely be a great thing to do once the situation gets better! Hopefully very soon.

Stay safe,

David

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