Dún Bleisce is Officially Re-Instated as the Proper Name for Doon
Below is the address given by Fr. Tony Ryan P.P.
Mr. Chairman, Mr Eamon O'Cuiv, Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. Elected Representatives / Distinguished Guests agus Muintir Dún Bleisce.
Tá Fáilte Róimh go Léir.
I Iontach an lá é seo.
Lá Stairúil áthasach
Agus cuireann sé áthas orm Fáilte a chur roimh gach duine anseo inniu.
Is pribhléid mór dom labhairt ar son muintir Dún Bleisce.
We are greatly honoured to have you Minister Eamon O'Cuiv amongst us today to officially announce the "Placenames Order of 2007", and restore Dún Bleisce as the Gaelic name for Doon.
I feel it is only appropriate and fitting that on this historic occasion that I should give a brief outline of the process that has led to this definitive moment.
Away back in the mists of time- 500 B.C. and before perhaps, when only the Gaelic tongue was spoken in this country — Doon was known as Dún Bleisce. Many years later when writing was introduced, we have clear historical evidence for this with the 1st written reference to Dún Bleisce in the Annals of Innisfallen in 774 and again in the Book of Ballymote 1390.
What is its meaning? Dún Bleisce - well as we translate - Dun obviously refers to Fort: Now there are thousands of Duns or Forts all over Ireland—all associated with or named after either people , historical occasions or land features— Dun Laoghaire, Dun Gourney, Dunloy, Dunmore, Dunamaggin, Dunshoughlin — nearer home and down the road Donohill, Dunaskeigh, Dundrum. I could go on, but this district, parish, village is Dun Bleisce.
So who or what is Bleisce?
Is this the name of a powerful woman who ruled the area or is it a word which translates - harlot or woman of ill repute? or is it as scholarship and research would indicate and as no less an authority than Padraic O'Dineen's acclaimed Dictionary would clarify and let us not forget that his work is recognised as "THE" authority on the Irish language - states that Bleisc, when used as the name of a place simply means -a place which changes its leader often - the analogy is obvious - Doon/Dún Bleisce changed their rulers - leaders on a regular basis and hence the name. Be that as it may - the ancient name Dún Bleisce was the Gaelic name for our lovely village for centuries going back to pre Christian times.
However, from the late 17 Century until the beginning of the 20th Century - it underwent a process of Anglicisation as most place-names did due to wars and subsequent plantations. Irish was lost as the vernacular. Dún Bleisce became anglicised as Doon. However, in 1926 - Dún Bleisce was revived once more as the Gaelic name for Doon as it had always been the Irish name for Doon.
Then in 1975 - the First Place Names Order replaced it with "An Dun". Nobody was aware of this. Dún Bleisce continued to be used by all.
A second - Place Names Order which came into operation on 30th October, 2003 sealed the first. "An Dún" appeared on the road signs erected by the council. Dun Bleisce was actually gone for 33 years from 1975 - 2008.
The people of Dún Bleisce wanted to retain the ancient name of their village and they took umbrage with the Placenames Commission. There was anger, frustration, disbelief. Bearing in mind the abundance of forts or duns in our country. But what could be done?
Now all good causes require a visionary, a co-ordinator, a leader, a person informed, totally committed with courage and foresight, idealistic and confident with the ability to motivate and Dún Bleisce was fortunate to have that person in Br. Dan Fitzgerald. Br. Dan put the facts before the people and Dún Bleisce responded. 1200 people signed a petition. We want Dun Bleisce restored - this is the overwhelming wish of the entire parish.
Contact was made with Office of Place-names in Dublin. It was explained to them that Dún Bleisce was the ancient name and the name we all preferred. It was never called "An Dún" - but did the Office listen Oh no!
They knew better and so they turned down the request in June 2006.
Limerick County Council was contacted and asked to help. At their June meeting in 2006 they unanimously supported a motion proposed by Mary Jackman for the restoration of Dún Bleisce. This was forwarded to the Place Names Office in Dublin. It was not accepted. The members were asked to debate it again, in the light of further information from the Place Names Office. The members of Limerick County Council again unanimously supported the return of Dún Bleisce.
Minister Eamon O'Cuiv, because of its attested historical basis, published a draft Place Names Order in April 2007, which came into effect in April 2008. Dún Bleisce was finally restored. Thanks to Limerick County Council. Without their support it would not have been done. Sincere thanks to Minister Eamon O'Cuiv who disregarded the Place Names Office in this instance and granted our request.
Nar laga Dia A lámh go deo. Fáilte, Minister O Cuiv arís agus ar son muintir Dún Bleisce míle Buíochas.
Go raibh míle maith agaibh goléir.
Press Release - Order to be made by Minister Éamon Ó Cuív T.D. to change An Dún
(Doon), Co. Limerick to Dún Bleisce