Extract from ‘The History of the Celtic Place-Names of Scotland’ by William J. Watson
Transcription of an extract from ‘The History of the Celtic Place-Names of Scotland’ by William J. Watson.
Courtesy of Birlinn Ltd
The origin of the name Tiree is still a mystery. It is commonly said to come from the Gaelic ‘Tir iodh’, the land of corn, because of the island’s fertility. Another derivation is ‘Tir-Idhe’, the granary of Iona; a monastery established by St Columba on Tiree supplied grain to his headquarters on Iona.
Both of these explanations are probably wrong. William Watson, Professor of Celtic at Edinburgh University for over twenty years, wrote the book ‘The Celtic Place Names of Scotland’, which is still regarded as the most reliable source on the subject.
He believed the name came from ‘Tir’, Gaelic for land, and ‘Heth’ from an earlier language. In 1878 the official spelling was changed by the Post Office from Tyree to Tiree to avoid confusion with Tyrie in Aberdeenshire.