Tulsk - Tuilsce
Languages evolve over time, and the Irish language is no exception. When the meaning of a word changes, or that word is no longer in common use, it can be difficult to find an accurate meaning for the original, Gaelic version, before it was translated/corrupted into the English language. We may also have a good idea of the meaning of one part of the place name, but not of all of it.
‘Tulsk’ comes to mind here.
Its Gaelic version is ‘Tuilsce’, we know ‘uisce’, meaning ‘water’ is involved at the end of the word. The beginning throws up two possibilities: ‘tulach’, meaning ‘hill’ (plural, tulaigh), or ‘tuile’, meaning ‘flood’.
So, ‘Tulsk’ comes from the joining together of either ‘tulach uisce’, meaning the ‘wet hill’ (literally ‘the hill of water’), or ‘tuile uisce’, meaning the ‘flooded place’ (literally the ‘flood of water’). Take your pick!
Of course, Tulsk has strong connections with water, especially ‘holy’ water. The well or shrine at Ogulla (just outside the village) is a renowned pilgrimage site. It was said that St Patrick baptised the two daughters of High King Laoghaire there, while on his conversion crusade around Ireland in the 5th century, and if you’ve ever wondered why the names Eithne and Fidelma were so popular in the region, it so happens that Laoghaire’s daughters were called by those names.
Tulsk parish church also takes its name from the Princesses Eithne (the fair) and Fidelma (the auburn haired). This piece of information also solved the mystery for the writer as to why two of his aunts were called Eithne and Fidelma.
Other ‘holy’ wells in the area include ‘Barry’s Well’ in Kilcooley, ‘Tobereilbhe’, Tobarín Dubh (‘tobar’ is a well) in Carrowkeel/Castleruby, St Patrick’s wells in Corracreigh and Clooneybeirne, and St Colmcille’s well in Carrowbawn, to name but a handful.
We cannot leave Tulsk without mentioning the historic and archaeologically enriched region known as Rathcroghan or Cruachan Aí. There are well over a hundred monuments here and a visit to the sites and/or the Cruachan Aí Centre in the village, is a must for any person interested in local history and our past. Daithí’s Mound, or Stone, is the reputed burial place of the last pagan High King of Ireland, Daithí or Nathí. Rathcroghan Mound was burned in a ceremonial ritual of huge archaeological significance, and Oweynagat (cave of the cats) is the reputed entrance to the ‘Otherworld’.
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