Le Sars, continued (but not concluded)

Last month I posted about the name of the house where I grew up. A little research in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland yesterday produced some interesting data on the block now known as 209-231 Upper Lisburn Road, Belfast 10, from the successive Belfast street directories which simply list who lived at each house in the city.

The houses were, as I thought, built in 1936. But they were not numbered as part of the Upper Lisburn Road (which starts at Balmoral crossroads a mile to the northeast) until 1962; until then, the sequence of houses on the block is given as part of the Lisburn Road past the Belfast city boundary (at Finaghy crossroads) as follows:

  • unnamed house [Mrs England, chemist – she was still there when I was a child, and died only in the late 1970s]
  • second unnamed house [Mr England, dentist – presumably husband or brother-in-law]
  • LE-SARS [sic]
  • THE BUNGALOWS (1 & 2)

The chemist’s and dentist’s are adjoining buildings; all the others are semi-detached two-storey, three-bedroom houses – Garthowen/Le-sars, Marada/Collon, Culmore/Stevlin, and Clanrye/Glenburn – and the bungalows are also semi-detached, but obviously only one storey.

Garthowen, as well as being a large town in Australia, is a small town in Wales and a Welsh hymn tune.
Le Sars, as previously reported, was a battlefield near the Somme in 1914.
Marada was the name given to a set of Christian warrior statelets in what is now the Lebanon in the middle ages (also one of the militias in the more recent civil war). It is also a town in Libya which was a battleground in the second world war (so too late to be relevant here). It was also a rare but not unknown woman’s name in the late 19th century, I guess derived from some Spanish or Portuguese adjective. Most intriguingly, I find it used in connection with tribal facemasks made on one of the islands off Papua New Guinea – intriguing, because the island in question is called New Ireland.
Collon is a town in County Meath, and probably we need look no further.
Culmore is a suburb of Derry, and again that is probably all the explanation we need.
Stevlin is a townland in Donegal, though not particularly near Derry.
Clanrye is the river that flows through Newry in County Down.
Glenburn is striking rather close to home, in that there was (and still is) a Glenburn House in Dunmurry, the next village to the southwest.

So, five of the eight house names in the block are identifiably Irish, indeed counting “Garthowen” six are Celtic. Le Sars sticks out like a sore thumb as the only French name of the lot. (I do wonder about “Marada” – could just as easily be a contraction for Martin, Raymond and David as the architects.) Next time I have a chance to do research on this, I’ll have to take it a step further and go through the property (ie real estate) advertisements in the Belfast newspapers for 1936, to find out if the names of the houses were chosen by the property developer who built them, or if it’s possible that the first owner of the house, a Mr William Stevenson, overseer, may have had some input. But “William Stevenson” is such a common name that I don’t think he will take me any further.

One thought on “Le Sars, continued (but not concluded)

  1. Submit issue here too.

    And I was just feeling pleased with myself because I read 81 books this year. Now I feel inadequate all over again.

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