Ireland is full of lovely, singsong place names—from Killarney to Glendalough—but it is also home to some hilariously unfortunate place names. Here are our top five.
Ireland is known as one of the happiest countries in the world, coming in at number 16 according to the United Nations 2019 ranking, so it seems a bit strange that the Emerald Isle is also home to some hilariously depressing and unfortunate place names.
A name plays a pretty important part in attracting people to a place, or making them want to avoid it. We’ve rounded up some amusingly grim, and even pretty terrifying, place names in Ireland that would make us want to turn round and run in the opposite direction.
Read on to find out our top five miserable Irish place names and how these places each came to have such unfortunate names.
5. Misery Hill, Dublin – actually a vibrant theatre scene
I wouldn’t blame anyone visiting Dublin City for avoiding Misery Hill. After all, it doesn’t exactly sound like the most inviting place to hang around.
However, Misery Hill actually happens to be in one of the city’s most thriving and inviting areas, Grand Canal Square, home to the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, the Marker Hotel, Google headquarters, and lots of delicious cafés and restaurants.
The name dates back to the 1200s, when there was a hospital to treat leprosy patients not far from today’s Misery Hill. However, when the hospital was full, this meant many sufferers had to find somewhere else to go, far away from people, so as not to spread the contagious disease. It just so happened that this place was Misery Hill.
Address: Misery Hill, Dublin Docklands, Dublin, Ireland
4. Muckish Mountain, Co. Donegal – actually a spot for amazing views
Muckish Mountain in County Donegal is the third highest peak in the Derryveagh mountains and is distinctive due to its flat top. It’s not very often a mountain in Ireland won’t be mucky due to the high levels of rainfall the country receives, so Muckish Mountain seems a highly appropriate name. However, tourists say that the views at the top are worth the climb.
The name Muckish actually derives from the mountain’s distinctive flat-topped shape as it comes from the Irish word ‘Mhucais’, meaning the pig’s back. So it turns out the mountain’s unfortunate name has nothing to do with Ireland’s damp weather conditions.
Address: Muckish, Gortnaleck, Co. Donegal, Ireland
3. Kill, Co. Kildare – actually a pleasant Irish village
The County Kildare village of Kill doesn’t exactly sound like the kind of place you’d like to spend a leisurely afternoon, but rather, somewhere you would avoid at all costs.
However, this unfortunate place name doesn’t actually mean that the village is a place you’re likely to get murdered. In fact, the name ‘kill’ indicates that there must have been a church here dating from the earliest Christian period. This is because the name ‘kill’ derives from Gaelic ‘cill’ meaning church.
So there is no need to turn the other way when you see the road sign for Kill.
Address: Kill, Kill East, Co. Kildare, Ireland
2. Murder Hole Beach, Co. Donegal – actually one of Ireland’s most stunning beaches
Of all the places on this list, Murder Hole Beach has to be the one with the most misleading name. Hearing the name immediately conjures up gory images of murderers hiding in a cave waiting for their next victim.
You’ll be glad to hear this is not the case, but rather, Murder Hole Beach happens to be one of the most stunning beaches on the island of Ireland. So much so that it was actually crowned Ireland’s top hidden beach by the Irish Independent in 2017.
It is actually unknown where the name Murder Hole Beach comes from, but some legends state that a woman fell—or was pushed—to her death from the cliffs above. However, it is more likely that the name refers to the strong tides that whip around the beaches shores, thus endangering the lives of those in the beach’s hidden caves.
Address: Murder Hole Beach (Boyeeghter Bay), Sheephaven Bay, Co. Donegal, Ireland
1. The Devil’s Bit, Co. Tipperary – actually a unique rock formation in beautiful countryside
It doesn’t get much more sinister than naming a place after the devil, but whoever named this mountain in Tipperary must have thought that was a good idea.
The Devil’s Bit is a gap between a plateau and an outcrop of rocks in the middle of the Tipperary countryside. The name derives from this unusual rock formation as the story goes that the devil took a bite out of the mountaintop, broke his tooth during the bite, and spat it out, forming the Rock of Cashel outcrop about 20 miles south.
Address: Devil’s Bit, Curraheen, Co. Tipperary, Ireland