Township: Hynish

Map Reference: Hynish 32

Name Type: shore

Meaning: A steep, exposed shingle beach, which ‘growls’ in a swell. This is still used as a weather sign.

Traigh Balbhaig only ‘growls’ in late August. It is called after the word for a dumb person, balbhan because it’s quiet most of the time. David McClounnan, Balphuil, 8/2005

A folk etymology is that the name arose from ScG balbhan ‘a dumb person’ because the beach is quiet most of the time (David McClounnan, Balephuil, pers. comm.). There are at least two reconstructions:
• OI bali (genitive bala) ‘soft grassy bank, especially if sloping down to the shore’ (CV, 51). There is a Balabhair in Carloway (Cox 2002b, 171); there is a Balevika in Balestrand, Norway (NG); Balestrand derives from bali (NS); Bali is a common farm name in Iceland, and Balaskarð is a farm name there (SAM)
• ON pallr ‘ledge’ could refer to the raised beach (but see Generics and Earbal for a discussion of this element). There is a Palevika in Bømlo, Norway (NG). Voiced (as in /b/), and unvoiced (as in /p/), consonants often alternate (Sandnes 2010a, 71)
The generic is ON vík ‘bay’



See the paper An Island in 180 Names: the Norse Place-Names of Tiree on this website

Other Forms: Tràigh Bhalbhaig - WL

Tràigh Balbhaig - OS

Tràigh Balbhaig - ONB p245, described as a "sandy beach," meaning given "beach of the pebbles".

Related Places:

Information:A "dead quiet beach " - David McClounnan, Balephuil, 9/1995.

Used to be sandy when he was young. An Cìobair Beag (Ailig MacArthur's grandfather) used to bring his horses down to this beach to break them in. You could dig in the plough they were pulling to slow them down - WL.

Local Form:

Languages : Norse, Gaelic

Informants: multiple

Informant 2: Willie Lamont, Mannal, 9/1995

Informant 3: OS