Place name of the week: Inverness - Inbhir Nis

Inverness or Inbhir Nis, the confluence of the river Ness. Picture: Neil Hanna
Inverness or Inbhir Nis, the confluence of the river Ness. Picture: Neil Hanna
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Inverness (Inuernis in 1187) is of course established in Gaelic as Inbhir Nis ‘the confluence of the river Ness’ but its fame in the Gaelic-speaking world has meant that the pronunciation of the name has been subject to several dialectal peculiarities.

In Lewis and Sutherland it was pronounced Eara Nis; on Skye and in parts of Perthshire it was pronounced Eanar Nis, whilst on Uist and Harris it is Eilear Nis; in parts of Easter Ross, round Inverness itself and elsewhere it was Eornais.

Inverness in Nova Scotia – which until recently had a thriving Gaelic speaking population – was transferred as a name from the Scottish Inverness, but was always called simply ‘Inverness’ in both Gaelic and English.

Inverness is sometimes affectionately referred to as Inversnecky, from the name of a dance hall song by Harry Gordon; how it came to be attached to Inverness is not known.

For more information visit Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba