Township: Gott

Map Reference: Gott 35

Name Type: sub-township

Meaning: There are at least four plausible specifics:
• ON einir (genitive einis) ‘juniper’ (CV, 121). Einerberget is a name in Norway (NG); Einifell is an Icelandic farm name (SAM). Common juniper (Juniperus communis) is currently found on Coll, but not on Tiree (Pearman and Preston 2000, 98), but it may have grown here during the Medieval Climatic Optimum
• ON ein ‘ compounds ein-búi a single dweller’ (CV, 120), ‘a single or solitary feature’ (Berit Sandnes, pers. comm.). Einhallow is on Rousay, Orkney, and Ein has entered the Shetland dialect, as in Ayne of Breiwaich (SP); Ein is a common specific in Norway with eleven examples of Einholmen and three of Einberget (NG); and Ein- occurs nines times as a specific in Icelandic farm names, as in Einholt (SAM)
• The common male ON personal name Einarr. There is an Eina Stack in Northmavine, Shetland (SP); Einarhola and Einarholene in Norway (NG); it is a common specific amongst Norwegian farm names, as in Einarvold (OR); and Einar- occurs twelve times among Icelandic farm names, all with the medial genitive morpheme /s/, as in Einarsnes (SAM)
• ON ?rn (genitive arnar, plural ernir) ‘eagle’ (CV, 767). Arnarhóll occurs eight times as a farm name in Iceland, whereas there are no examples of Ernirhóll (SAM), presumably because eagles are often solitary predators away from nesting sites. There are five examples of Arnes and two examples of Ernes on NG and one on OR
• Cameron derived Èirneal from a common name in the rentals Herne (see Hyring below): ‘Earnal: a likely etymology is to be found in Blaeu’s map in The Hyring or Herne castle, which it shows as standing on an island in Loch Kirkapol’ (MacDougall 1937, 80).
The east end of nearby Beinn Bhaile Phèadrais is marked on the 1878 OS 6 inch first edition as ScG Beinn Iolaireach ‘the hill abounding with eagles’, and it is possible that the name Èirneal has transferred from this feature. This raises the possibility that this was originally a Norse name and then translated into Gaelic in a later bilingual context: Arnarhóll > Beinn Iolaireach (see also Coirceal). However, this rounded hill with an absence of cliff sites is a very unlikely nesting ground for sea eagles and the island does not provide (and probably has never provided) the predation opportunities for golden eagles (John Bowler, pers. comm.).
It is possible that two similar names for the two features Beinn Bhaile Phèadrais and Cnoc Èirneal – Arnarhóll and Einarhóll – have been conflated, giving rise to the two forms of the name that survive today (see Groideagal/gear and Fòirneagal/ Fòirnigeir). It is also possible that the OS choice of Earnal has influenced local pronunciation.

Other Forms: Earnal - “A likely etymology is to be found in Blaeu’s map in The “Hyring or “Herne” castle which it shows as standing on an island in Loch Kirkapol. Handbook to the Islands of Coll and Tiree, Hector MacDougall and Rev. Hector Cameron, Archibald Sinclair, p80.

Earnal - ONB p125, "three small crofts," with Aineol crossed out.

Related Places:

Information:The Gaelic Otherworld, ed Ronald Black, p245-6:
Some thirty years ago [ie around 1844] a man in Tiree nicknamed the Poult (am Bigein) was haunted for several months by the spectre of the person with whom he was at that time at service. The phantom came regularly every evening for him, and if its call wasdisregarded it gave him next evening a severe thrashing, According to the man's own account, the spectre sometimes spoke, and when he understood what it said, gave good advice. Its speech was generally indistinct and unintelligible. The person whose spectre it was, on being spoken to on the subject, got very angry, but the visits of the spectre ceased.
See also p 646.
There were three houses here in her day - Mary Ann MacDonald, Heanish, 3/1994.

It is pronounced Eirneal (eyr-nyal) - Mary MacKinnon, Parkhouse,12/2007.

Local Form:

Languages : Norse

Informants: multiple

Informant 2: OS