Township: Balinoe

Map Reference: Balinoe 77

Name Type: sub-township

Meaning: Balinoe | This is a sub-township separated from Soroby graveyard by the substantial stream Abhainn Cho’ Dhèis. This settlement is likely to have been a subdivision of the secondary bær farm at Soroby. A larger area was re-named ScG Am Baile Nodha 'the new town' during late Gaelic settlement from the fourteenth century. A turf and stone enclosure at NL984418 is today called ScG Fang a’ Mhachaire or Fang a’ Bhaile Nodha 'the fank of the machair or the new township'.

Folk etymology linked this name to its location beside the graveyard, medieval parish church site and possibly that of the Early Christian monastery Mag Luinge. Cameron wrote: 'The scattered village of Cu’ Dhéis, as it is now pronounced. This is undoubtedly Cuil Dhé, which might be translated 'the Treasury of God'.' (MacDougall 1937, 114) An alias was ScG Baile Dhè 'the town of God' (Alasdair Sinclair, Balinoe, 11/2005: oral source). One inhabitant told me once that its blessed name and location was ‘the reason we didn't have a power cut today!’
This is an enigmatic name. It may be Gaelic, with its first element either:
• ScG cuithe 'pen for sheep or cattle' (MacBain), a loan word from ON kví 'pen'. There is an A' Chuithe on Raasay (MacKay 2013, 18), and a Loch na Cuithe Mòire in South Uist (SP)
• ScG cùil 'corner, cranny, recess' or cùl 'back of something': names in Cùl-/Cùil-x are very common in Argyll, as in Na Cùiltean, West Hynish; Cul Dorlin in Ardnamurchan; or Cuil Ghlas north of Tyndrum (SP)
In this case, the specific might be ScG glas 'green' or EG glas 'stream' (eDIL).
With the stress on the second element, however, it is also possible that this is a Norse name in ON kví ‘milking enclosure’: 'Quoy [from kví] is the most frequent name element of all in Orkney.' (Sandnes 2010a, 271) These are usually early subdivisions of primary farms (Fenton 1978, 29).
Names in kví are usually inverted with the form Quoy-X, with the generic first and specific second (Marwick 1995 (1929), 107; Sandnes 2010a, 331; Sandnes, in Gammeltoft et al. 2005, 178; see also Cox 2007c, 17): for example, Quoyhorsetter on South Ronaldsay. The stress then falls, as it does here, on the second element: for example, Quoy Bano (Sandnes 2010a, 235). The specific can be a personal name, sometimes with the genitive morpheme, as in the 1492 Orcadian place-name Quybernardis 'Bernard's sheep pen' (Cox 2007c, 23). The specific in this case might be ON gil (genitive gils) ' a deep narrow glen with a stream at the bottom' (CV, 199), which might reference the fairly deep cutting made by the stream here.
This is a common element in Norway, as in Gilsetsætra (NG); it is found in the Faroe Islands, as in Gilstón (KO); and seven times in Iceland, as in Gilsbakki (SAM). Another possibility is the common male ON personal name Egil. Cuier is a place-name on Barra (OS1/18/2/98), and 'comes from ON 'an enclosure'' (Stahl 1999, 109); *Cuidhshader in Carloway derives from kví-sætr (Cox 2002, 362); there is a Quoyelsh in Stromness, and a Quoygrew in Westray, Orkney (SP).
Despite all this, it is probably best to leave this name open at the moment due to the divergent source forms.

Other Forms: Ownsglesch, 1509 ER xiii, 216
Cowelche, 1541 ER xvii, 647
Cowelche, 1542 ER xvii, 527
Cowelche, 1638 RMS ix, 828
Quicheish, 1716 MacLean-Bristol 1998
Quyeish, 1794 Tiree Rental, Cregeen 1964, 38
Quyeish, 1768 Turnbull
Quinish, 1832 Thomson's Atlas of Scotland
Cuigeas, 1878 OS 6inch 1st edition

Related Places:

Information:"Balinoe was called Baile Dhè by the old folks. “That’s why we didn’t have a power cut today!” Alasdair Sinclair, Balinoe. 11/2005.
Part of Balinoe, from Henderson's house down to the shore.

Local Form:

Languages : Gaelic

Informants: Bobby Tester, Balinoe, 1/1994

Informant 2: OS