Township: Balinoe

Map Reference: Balinoe 77

Name Type: sub-township

Meaning: Folk etymology has explained the name from its proximity to Soroby, the past location of one of the island’s parish churches and possibly the site of an early Christian monastery. 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 recently used its blessed name and location as “the reason we didn’t have a power cut today!”
This is an enigmatic name. It could be a Norse post-positional name in ON kví ‘a pen’, which is very common in Orkney as Quoy-x, for example Quoyhorsetter on South Ronaldsay (see kwi/quoy, Marwick 1929, 107). Sandnes has discussed these names in kví where the normal ON place-name order is turned round with the generic first and specific second (Sandnes 2010a, 331; Sandnes, in Gammeltoft et al., 2005, 178). The stress falls on the second element, as in Quoy Bano (Sandnes 2010a, 235). The second element in Co’ Dhèis is opaque; it may contain the ON male personal name Gilli with the genitive morpheme (see Cox 2007, 23; a jarl Gilli of Coll is mentioned in Njáls saga chapter 85). There is a Quoyelsh in Stromness, and a Quoygrew in Westray, Orkney (SP). ‘On Barra Cuier comes from ON ‘an enclosure’’ (Stahl 1999, 109), as in Dun Cuier (Armit 2003, colour plate 3).
It is as likely, however, to be a Gaelic name. The first element (the generic) may be:
• ScG cuithe ‘pen for sheep or cattle’ (MacBain), itself a loan word from
ON kví ‘pen’. There is a Port na Cuithe in South Uist (SP)
• ScG cùil ‘corner, cranny, recess’ or cùl ‘back of something’: names in Cul-/Cuil-x are very common in Argyll, as in Cul Dorlin in Ardnamurchan, or Cuil Ghlas north of Tyndrum (SP)
Following the earliest source form Ownsglesch, the second element (the specific) may be ScG glas, which means ‘grey’ in modern Scots Gaelic, but which is used of the colour of fresh green grass on Tiree, following the meaning of EG glass (MacBain).

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