This is Ireland (Shetland)

This is Ireland (Shetland)

The sun highlighting the village of Ireland in the south mainland of the Shetland Islands.

I've always thought Ireland to be an unusual name in Shetland. However, like most of Shetland's placenames, Ireland has it's roots in the Old Norse language. 'Ayre' in Shetland means a beach (usually a shingle beach), and in this case Ireland just means ayre-land.

There's lots of placename elements derived from Old Norse which I just take for granted as describing the features of the land in Shetland. For example: 'wick' (bay), 'ness' (headland), 'scord' (valley crossing), 'stack' (rock), 'geo' (ravine), 'holm' (small islet). There's lots more info available from the Shetland Place Names Project on the Shetland Amenity Trust website.

One element I hadn't thought much about are all the islands in Shetland ending in -a, -ay, and -ey, which derive from the Old Norse 'øy' for isle. There's two examples of this in the photo above, with the islands of Havra and the south end of Burra shaded in the background by the dark clouds.

Posted: February 16th, 2014
Image #599