Enniscrone or Inishcrone? Campaign intensifies to end confusion over name

Appeal for legislative amendment to allow plebiscite on both Irish, English spellings

An old road sign in Enniscrone. The controversy is complicated further by a disagreement over Irish spellings of the Sligo town’s name between Inis Eiscir Abhainn and Inis Crabhann

A 15-year campaign to allow locals determine the spelling of their seaside town is intensifying in the hope a new government will be formed and finally amend legislation to allow a plebiscite.

Most residents and visitors know the Co Sligo town as Enniscrone, but official Ireland calls it Inishcrone, the name on the post office, the Garda station, the local authority offices and all official signage and signposts.

The school however uses Enniscrone as do virtually all businesses in the area.

Logainm.ie, the official placenames database of Ireland, under the remit of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht gives a “no results found” response to Enniscrone, but offers Inishcrone or Inniscrone as alternative spellings.


The controversy is complicated further by a disagreement over Irish spellings of the town’s name between Inis Eiscir Abhainn the name favoured by the local community group, and Inis Crabhann, the official spelling.

Austin Tuffy of the local community council says “we want to take out the element of confusion”.

The local community “is not trying to impose our view but to end the confusion” through a plebiscite.

Historically both names have been used. Parish records dating back to 1825 always use Enniscrone to identify residence while the 1838 Ordnance Survey Office survey of Ireland refers to Inishcrone.

“State recording of birth, marriage and death started around 1865. All these records use Enniscrone to identify place of residence,” Mr Tuffy adds.

He points that the then village “had its first church dedicated in 1891 as reported in an article in the Sligo Champion at the time titled The Dedication of Enniscrone New Church”.

Signposting used to refer to Enniscrone until around the late 1970s when the official Irish name took hold. Irritation became anger with the arrival of satellite navigation which only recognised the official name.

Google Maps and other systems now recognise Enniscrone, but road signs still add to confusion.

Sligo-Leitrim Fine Gael TD Frankie Feighan has raised the issue a number of times in the Dáil. “I’ve always said it’s like a turf war between two departments - heritage and local government.”

They were close to a resolution and an agreement on the Enniscrone/Inishcrone row “but there was a bit of a difficulty with the Irish spelling as well. They could have gone with one plebiscite on the English spelling but they wanted to get the two of them together.”

That requires review of the legislation allowing locals to vote and Minister of State for Local Government John Paul Phelan said he was awaiting a response from the Department of the Gaeltacht on a review of the legislation to allow the plebiscite to be put to the people.

But a decision is not expected until a new government is in place.

Mr Tuffy points out that it is a problem for many place names and in Co Sligo alone “Easkey, Ballysadare and Tobercurry, all have multiple spellings both on signposts and on addresses”.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times