Toss Henry at one of the entrance signs to Clonmellon.

'Ráistín is not the Irish for Clonmellon'

A Clonmellon man is reviving his campaign to have the direct Irish translation of the name of his home village restored to its entrance signs.

Since the 1970s, the Irish name of Clonmellon used on official signs has been Ráistín, which according to the place name database of Ireland was “the traditional Irish name of Clonmellon used by native speakers of Irish in the Westmeath/Meath area in the nineteenth century”.

However, local community activist Toss Henry believes that the official Irish name should be Cluain Miolain, which was used on signs up until the 1970s and a version of which is still used on the front of the village's primary school.

Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner, Toss said that the name Cluain Miolain was the only one used when he was growing up and that it was changed in the 1970s without any consultation with the residents of the village.

He carried out a “plebiscite” a number of years ago of the families that would have been living in Clonmellon when the Irish name was changed and says that over 400 people were in favour of Cluain Miolain being restored as the official Irish name of the village located on the Meath border.

He says that he brought the findings of the survey to the council and to the relevant government department but was unsuccessful in his efforts.

Toss says that he recently decided to revive his campaign to get Cluain Miolain restored on the entrance signs, signs that were recently replaced as part of the ongoing enhancement scheme in the village.

“I was born in 1949 and in the 50s and 60s the signs had Cluain Miolain on them. Ráistín is definitely not the Irish for the village that we live in now. It might have been two or three hundred years ago. How can Clonmellon be Ráistín, while Clonmel is Cluain Meala?”

A member of Clonmellon Tidy Towns Committee, Toss says that he wants to “start a debate” about what the Irish name of the village should be on official signs.

“I don't care what the name for Clonmellon is on satellites, or Google, or anything else, I just want the four road signs put back up with Cluain Miolain on them,” he said.

When contacted by the Westmeath Examiner, Westmeath County Council sent a link to the place name database of Ireland.