Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Paisley, a name fit for pasture or basilica?

Letters to the editor should be sent to: 124-144 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1EB. E-mail: writeback@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Brian MacLochlainn's letter (Write Back, October 25) on the presumed Gaelic derivations of personal names is most interesting. He quotes Prof W J Watson on the origin of the name Paisley, and here is the rub. For although Paisley is, as Brian says, Paislig in Gaelic, Watson is careful to say Paisley may be of British origin. For so it is.

Most sources suggest a derivation from the Old British word passgill, 'pasture' or more likely passeleg, 'basilica', (major church) itself derived from the Greek basilika.

Along with Glasgow and Govan, both also ultimately derived from Old British names, Paisley may have been a major religious centre of the Kingdom of Strathclyde, whose language was Old British (early 'Welsh') and not 'invader' Gaelic.

The Paisley family are proud of such British origins. But it is important to realise that Brian must also know of the real derivation of Paisley and we can only speculate about the reasons why he has chosen to ignore it.



CLLR DR Ian Adamson, City Hall, Belfast

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