Through a mix up in lodging at Castlepollard Hotel the owner, Russell, gifted us a book. At 400 pages it’s hefty in both size and content. The Field Names of County Meath was published in 2013 by the Meath Field Names Project. Through essays, poetry, stories, and photos it documents a love affair with the land where, as the book title suggests, every field has a name.
Most common names include House Field, Hill Field, Bottoms, Well Field. There are even fifteen triangular fields named Smoothing Iron Field, reflecting the shape of old irons heated on the stove.
And many more are unique. Candle Hill Field, “Folklore tells us that the residents gave candles to the local clergy instead of money offerings.” Dye House Field, “It is said that a person lived here who dyed or coloured buttons for clothing. There are remnants of a building at the north end of the field.” Knitter’s Corner, “A lady who knitted for people lived there.” Lousy Lea, “Legend has it that some of Cromwell’s troops camped here in 1649, when they woke up in the morning they were covered in lice.”
Their are fields named for the stones, waterfalls, and bogs. There are fields named for resident badger, fox, and plover. There are fields named for the thornbush, ferns, and oaks. Naming. It’s something we do for what we love.
A Love for the Land
I love this place that now is ours
This farm that has been handed on
From father to daughter, to son to son,
Everywhere remainders of those who are gone.
The names of fields meant something once,
Those who had named them would say so,
But the reasons were lost in the passing of time,
And it’s unlikely now that we’ll ever know,
The ‘Bottoms’ lie in the middle part,
The ‘Division’ is the largest field.
The ‘High Meadow’ is in a hollow,
And how many tractors would ‘Car Hill’ yield?
No matter now, the names that were strange,
Memories cling to everything here,
The love and the toil of a farming people
Make this place to me so very dear.
Anne Jane Holton, Enfield
Judith – firstname.lastname@example.org