The Naming of the Two Baltimores

By James Doherty

Photo by James Doherty 
"Downtown" Baltimore, West Cork.

The word Baltimore comes from the Gaelic Baile an Tí Mhóir, which means "town of the big house." Although called Dún na Séad or "Fort of the Jewels" in the Irish language, the English name for the West Cork village was Baltimore.

Baltimore in Cork lent its name to the (then) new colony in Maryland, but not in the way people may think. Cecil Calvert was an Irish Lord Baltimore with a 2,300-acre estate in Longford, with no connection to West Cork. It was his father, George Calvert, a successful English politician, who first assumed the title, and the Longford estate, when he left office. (It is believed he chose "Baltimore" simply because he liked the sound of it.) Cecil, the second Lord Baltimore, would go on to form the colony of Maryland, naming it after King Charles I's wife, Henrietta Maria, and become its first governor.

Wikipedia Commons
The Pride of Baltimore

The town of Baltimore, Maryland, was founded July 30th, 1729, and was named after Cecil. After burning Washington, D.C., during the War of 1812, British forces attacked Baltimore. It was there during the siege of Fort McHenry, in Baltimore Harbor, that Francis Scott Key wrote a poem titled, "The Star Spangled Banner," which was adopted as the American national anthem in 1931.

The connection between the two locales continues to this day, as the schooner Pride of Baltimore, promoting the heritage of its home port as it plies the oceans, often visits its namesake in Ireland. WGT


James Doherty is a Waterford-based writer who focuses on the preservation of the history of the Irish worldwide.

This feature was edited by Gerry Regan and produced by Joe Gannon.

Copyright © 2011 by James Doherty and GAR Media LLC. This article may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed without prior permission from the author. Direct questions about permissions to

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Tags: Baltimore, Cork, History, Ireland


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