Irish-language nomenclature for two indigenous plant species

Nicholas Williams


This article provides a description of the various Irish-languages names for ‘goosegrass’ (Galium aparine) and the name athabha (Oenanthe crocata) is also discussed. ‘Goosegrass’ grows abundantly in Ireland and it has a number of Irish-language names. These names refer to the roughness of the plant and the way in which both the plant and its seeds attach to animal skin, and people’s clothes. The most interesting name is a reference to the use of G. aparine to filter milk, a use that dates back to the time of the Ancient Greeks. O. crocata is one of the most poisonous indigenous plants in Ireland. Even though it appears that the name athabha and its derivatives dathabha agus tathabha were used for other plants, it seems that the name was used to describe only plants that were particularly poisonous. For that reason, the name athabha, is recommended, for its notation as to how poisonous a plant would be, and therefore, its etymology is considered in this article.

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COMHARTaighde is an open access, peer-reviewed scholarly journal in the field of Irish language and literature studies. The full text of the article described on this page is available in the Irish language only. English-language translations of article titles, abstracts and certain metadata are provided in order to enable international scholars to discover research published in COMHARTaighde and to facilitate the indexing of articles in certain academic databases.

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© COMHAR, 2019.
ISSN: 2009-8626