Township: Ruaig,Ruaig

Map Reference: Ruaig 50

Name Type: shore

Meaning: See Mallachdag for the Gaelic folk etymology of this contrasting pair of skerry names. After St Columba had cursed Mallachdag for not securing his boat, he sailed to Ruaig where his boat was anchored safely (MacKinnon 1997, 9; Duncan Grant, Ruaig, 12/2013, oral source). In this version, Naomhaig is derived from ScG naomh 'blessed' with the ScG locational suffix -ag.
Despite this compelling story, a Norse name in ON vík 'bay' is more plausible. The specific may be ON n?s (genitive nasar) or nef (genitive sing. nefs, genitive plural nefja) 'nose; beak' (CV, 450): 'Niv is a long jutting out headland. In Icelandic nöf and nöp signify nose' (Jakobsen 1897, 92). 'Növ in the Faeroes means 'promontory'' (Jakobsen 1936, 86). The Norse name Nefvík may have been re-semanticised as ScG Naomhag 'holy place' and woven into the landscape with its contrasting pair Mallachdag 'the accursed place' by a later cult of St Columba.
There is a Dùn Naomhaig on Islay (Macniven 2015, 83 and 168) and an Ardnave and a Kilnave on Islay derived from nef (Macniven 2015, 288 and 332); a Nevag Bay on South Uist; Nev is a common element in Orkney; there is a Nervadale in Unst, Shetland (SP); there is a Nøvik in Levanger, and Nervik(a) is common in Norway (NG).

Other Forms: Sgeir Naomhaig - ONB p135, "Spiritual rock."

Related Places: Mallachdaig, Gott.


Local Form:

Languages : Norse, Gaelic

Informants: multiple

Informant 2: OS