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Is baile, paróiste dlí agus baile fearainn é Bré i gCo. Chill Mhantáin. Tá dhá bhaile fearainn eile ann atá ainmnithe as Bré, eadhón Coimín Bhré agus Bré Beag. Tá Bré Beag, mar aon le cuid de Choimín Bhré, suite ar bhruach thuaidh na Deargaile. I gCo. Bhaile Átha Cliath a bhí an talamh sin go dtí gur aistríodh é de thoradh Acht Rialtais Áitiúil na bliana 1898 go Co. Chill Mhantáin. Seo mar a d’aithnítí líomatáiste Bhré lastuaidh den abhainn ón gceantar theas i gcáipéisí Stáit, little Brey (bliain 1566 m.sh.) agus Moche Bree (1538). Is ón logainm bunaidh céanna a dhíorthaigh Ceann Bré chomh maith le Bray River (= Bray water 1655c), an t-ainm a bhí ar an Deargail tráth. Go deimhin níor éirigh le Liam Price ina shaothar The Place-Names of Co. Wicklow ainm abhann na Deargaile a rianú níos faide siar ná an t-ochtú haois déag. Ainm gleanna ba ea é ó cheart.
Maítear ar uairibh gur Brí Chualann / Cualann ainm Gaeilge Bray. Dealraíonn sé nach sine an fhoirm Ghaeilge sin ná tosach an fichiú haois. Thug Seosamh Laoide aitheantas do Brí Cualann sa leagan Béarla-Gaeilge dá ghasaitéar, Post-Sheanchas ina bhfuil cúigí, dúithchí, conntaethe agus bailte puist na hÉireann a cuireadh i gcló sa bhliain 1905. Sa leagan Gaeilge-Béarla den Post-Sheanchas a cuireadh i gcló an chéad uair sa bhliain 1911, mhol an Laoideach dhá fhoirm Ghaeilge an babhta seo, Brí Chualann agus Brí. Brí Cualann a mhol Risteárd Ó Foghludha sa ghasaitéar s’aigesean, Logainmneacha .i. [A] Dictionary of Irish Placenames (bliain 1935). Thug an tAthair Pádraig Ó Duinnín aitheantas do Brí Cualann chomh maith ina fhoclóir Gaeilge-Béarla (eagrán 1927) faoin bhfocal brí, 'a hill'. Ainm dúthaí ársa is ea Cuala (ginideach Cualann). Toisc gur theastaigh ón Laoideach seanainmneacha na ndúthaí a chur in ionad ainmneacha na gcontaetha a bhunaigh na Gaill, b’fhéidir gurbh eisean a shocraigh ar Cuala a chur leis an logainm.
Ní Brí na Gaeilge atá taobh thiar den logainm Bray. Is focal ársa ar chnoc é brí atá caomhnaithe i logainmneacha, ar nós Brí Mhór lastuaidh de Bhaile Brigín i gCo. Bhaile Átha Cliath nó Brí Ois atá cóngarach do bhaile Thiobraid Árann i gCo. Thiobraid Árann agus a chiallaíonn cnoc an fhia. Bhí P. W. Joyce, údar Irish Names of Places, ar dhuine díobhsan a mheas gurbh fhoirm eile de *Brí é Bray. 'Bri [bree]', a scríobh sé sa chéad imleabhar dá shaothar iomráiteach, 'signifies a hill or rising-ground ... Bray, which is the name of several places in Ireland, is another form of the same word. Bray in Wicklow is called Bree in old church records and other documents'.
Le bheith cruinn, faightear idir Bre agus Bree i ndoiciméid Stáit agus eaglasta de chuid an tríú haois déag. Is é foirm is sine áfach sna taifid úd ná Bre (féach samplaí stairiúla den logainm i The Place-Names of Co. Wicklow). Níl na foirmeacha traslitrithe sin ag freagairt do Brí na Gaeilge áfach. Cuimhnimis nár tharla an t-athrú suaithinseach i bhfuaimniú na ngutaí fada sa Bhéarla ar a dtugtar an 'great vowel shift' go dtí an cúigiú haois déag meastar. De thoradh an athruithe sin, ardaíodh guta fada [ē] an tSean- agus an Mheán-Bhéarla go dtí [i] i bhfocail ar nós fēt / feet, sē / see.
Tá samplaí le fáil den logainm atá faoi chaibidil, de réir dealraimh, i ndán Gaeilge a cumadh i dtosach an deichiú haois faoi rithe Laighean. Breä, logainm déshiollach, a bhí sa dán úd (féach Foclóir Stairiúil Áitainmneacha na Gaeilge: Ainmneacha i B). Faightear an logainm Dún mBrea sa Dindshenchas a cuireadh i dtoll a chéile ina dhiaidh sin. I gCríoch Cualann a bhí an dún úd de réir an Dinnseanchais chéanna, mar a raibh inbhear agus 'ard-ler' (nó farraige). Tá tagairt luath chomh maith i litríocht na Gaeilge do Dún Bré.
In eagrán 19 Aibréan 1927 den Irish Times, foilsíodh litir leis an Ollamh Osborn Bergin inar mhínigh sé nach raibh aon bhunús stairiúil leis an leagan Brí Chualann. Siod é clabhsúr na litreach, 'To sum up, Middle Irish scholars knew of a place called Dún Bré, at the mouth of a river in a district comprising the southern part of County Dublin and the northern part of County Wicklow ... The identification seems obvious [i.e. with Bray]. I do not know of any old authority for the name Brí Chualann'.
Ba é tuairim Liam Price, údar a lán aistí agus sraith leabhar faoi logainmneacha Co. Chill Mhantáin, gurbh ainm ar abhainn na Deargaile é Bré ó bhunús. Mhíneodh sin cén chúis a nglaotar Loch Bré ar an loch ina n-éiríonn géag d'abhainn na Deargaile. Bíodh an focal scoir ag Liam Price as an aiste 'The name of Bray' a foilsíodh in Éigse (imleabhar IV): 'To sum up, Brea and Bré seem to be the early forms of the name Bray ... it does not seem likely that it represents the word brí, 'a hill'; and it is possible that it is an old river name'.
Bray is the name of a town, a civil parish and a townland in Co. Wicklow. There are two further townlands whose names are derived from Bray, namely Bray Commons and Little Bray. Little Bray and a portion of Bray Commons are situated on the northern side of the Dargle River. This area formed part of Co. Dublin until it was transferred to Co. Wicklow under the Local Government (Ireland) Act of 1898. The portion of Bray situated north of the river and the southern part were distinguished in State documents in the following manner, little Brey (an example dated 1566) and Moche Bree (1538). Both Bray Head and Bray River, which was formerly the name of the Dargle River (= Bray water 1655c), are also derived from the same underlying placename. In fact the earliest reference recorded by Liam Price in The Place-Names of Co. Wicklow to the River Dargle dates from the eighteenth century. That particular name originally referred to a valley.
Brí Chualann / Cualann is sometimes claimed to be the Irish name of Bray. It would seem that this Irish name does not pre-date the beginning of the twentieth century. Brí Cualann appeared in print in the English-Irish version of a gazetteer by Seosamh Laoide entitled Post-Sheanchas ina bhfuil cúigí, dúithchí, conntaethe agus bailte puist na hÉireann which was published in 1905. In the Irish-English version of Post-Sheanchas which was first published in 1911, Laoide recommended two Irish forms of the name, Brí Chualann and Brí. Risteárd Ó Foghludha subsequently recommended Brí Cualann in another gazetteer entitled, Logainmneacha .i. [A] Dictionary of Irish Placenames (published in 1935). Brí Cualann was also used by Rev. Patrick S. Dinneen in his Irish-English Dictionary (1927 edition) as an example of the word brí, ‘a hill’. Cuala (genitive Cualann) is an ancient territorial name. As Laoide wished to replace the names of the counties which had been established by the English with old territorial names, he may have decided to add Cuala as specific element to the name.
Be that as it may, Bray doesn’t derive from Irish Brí. Brí is an old Irish word meaning ‘hill’ which is still preserved in various placenames, such as Bremore / Brí Mhór north of Balbriggan in Co. Dublin or Bruis / Brí Ois, near Tipperary town in Co. Tipperary, which means ‘hill of (the) deer’. The author of Irish Names of Places, P. W. Joyce, was amongst those who regarded Bray as a version of *Brí. In the first volume of his famous toponymic work, Joyce stated that 'Bri [bree] signifies a hill or rising-ground ... Bray, which is the name of several places in Ireland, is another form of the same word. Bray in Wicklow is called Bree in old church records and other documents'.
To be precise, both Bre and Bree are recorded in State and ecclesiastical documents dating to the thirteenth century. Bre is the earlier of the two recorded forms (see historical examples of the placename in The Place-Names of Co. Wicklow). These transliterated forms do not correspond to Irish Brí. It is worth remembering that the so-called great vowel shift – a noteworthy sound change which effected long vowels in English – did not occur until the fifteenth century probably. As a result of this sound change, the long vowel [ē] of Old and Middle English was raised in its articulation to [i] in words such as fēt / feet, sē / see.
The placename under discussion is referred to (seemingly) in an Irish poem on the kings of Leinster which was composed in the early tenth century. The placename, Breä, was disyllabic in that particular composition (see Historical Dictionary of Gaelic Placenames: Names in B). The name Dún mBrea is recorded, somewhat later, in the Dindshenchas, which is a body of literature in verse and prose form on the origin of famous places. This particular dún (‘fort’) was located in the territory of Cuala, according to the Dindshenchas, which further referred to ‘a noble sea’ (ard-ler) and ‘a river-mouth’ (inber). There is also an early reference in Irish literature to Dún Bré.
A letter by Professor Osborn Bergin which was published in the Irish Times on the 19th of April 1927, explained that the name Brí Chualann wasn’t of historical origin. In conclusion, the professor wrote: 'To sum up, Middle Irish scholars knew of a place called Dún Bré, at the mouth of a river in a district comprising the southern part of County Dublin and the northern part of County Wicklow ... The identification seems obvious [i.e. with Bray]. I do not know of any old authority for the name Brí Chualann'.
Liam Price, who was the author of many articles and of a series of books about Wicklow placenames suggested that Bré was in origin the name of the Dargle River. This would explain why Lough Bray / Loch Bré, from which a tributary of the Dargle River flows, is so-called. I leave the final word to Price, from an article of his entitled 'The name of Bray' which was published in the journal Éigse (volume IV): 'To sum up, Brea and Bré seem to be the early forms of the name Bray ... it does not seem likely that it represents the word brí, 'a hill'; and it is possible that it is an old river name'.
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