Ceann Tuaithe or Toehead is a townland of 94 hectares/ 232 acres and in the early part of the 20th century, 186 individual fields have been mapped in this townland.

It is in the Electoral Division of Castlehaven South, in Civil Parish of Castlehaven and the Roman Catholic Parish of Castlehaven and Myross.

 It is the most southerly inhabited townland in the parish and it is bordered by Gort an Chrosaigh (Gortacrossig) to the east and Leic Eoghain (Lickowen) to the north. 

Generally, Toe Head is the name given to the entire peninsula (made up of the four townlands of Toehead, Gortacrossig, Lickowen and Farranconnor) while Toehead is the name given to the townland.

OpenStreetmap contributors, with input from the Castlehaven & Myross History Society, have created a detailed townland map including all its minor placenames. Zoom in for more detail.



Ceann Tuaithe can be interpreted as the headland (of the) tuath / tribe or people. Bruno O'Donoghue wrote that it was also known as Tuath Mhuintir Doirc meaning the land of the Doirc tribe. It's said the Doirc tribe were an ancient Corca Laidhe sept and the family name can still be found found in Dirk Bay near Courtmacsherry - east of the Galley Head

Toehead is the anglicised version of the original placename with Head being a direct translation of Ceann and Toe being a crude attempt at anglicising the word Tuath. Ironically, locals call the most southerly point of the townland the Srón which is the nose, not the toe.  

Today, the Placenames Database of Ireland lists the original Ceann Tuaithe and the anglicised/translation Toehead as the statutory spellings. Either version can be used as a postal address or for legal and other documents.



Promontory Fort: Toehead has evidence of habitation dating back to at least the Iron Age. A promontory fort known as Dooneendermotmore was said to have been occupied more recently by a pirate (Diarmuid Mór Ó Drisceoil) who took advantage of the rocky coast which led to large numbers of shipwrecks.


Holy Well: There is a holy well known as Tobar Pártaláin (see below) which was a place of local pilgrimage up until the end of the 19th century and was later used as a well for cattle. 


Mass Rock:  A mass rock known as Cloch an tSagairt which can be interpreted as the priest's rock, overlooks the northern end of the townland.  Mass was said here during Penal times but there is some doubt as to whether the stones now in place are part of the original mass rock.

Mass Rock - Cloch an tSagairt

Clacháns: Until the mid 19th century,.the original nucleated settlement on this townland was made up of two clustered separated by a little more than 100 metres. The larger cluster was known as Íochtar Bhaile while the smaller one a little to the south was called Uachtar Bhaile. These names were still in use well into the 1960s but have fallen from use more recently as the settlement pattern has become more dispersed.


JFK: Governor John Connally of Texas who was in the motorcade when John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, and was himself wounded, is said to be a descendent of a Connolly family who lived in Toehead for a period in the mid 1800s.





As part of Griffiths Valuation in 1853, a survey of house quality was carried out to calculate what rates were due by each household. These were issued in 1850 in the form of house books (Pg 1Pg 2) and a guide on how to interpret these can be seen here. These show that 19 of the 20 houses in the townland at the time were class 3. This means that they were all thatched houses with stone walls with mud or puddle mortar. Within class 3 there are a number of different categories. All 19 of these class 1 houses are old (more than 25 years old) with five being in repair and fourteen described as out of repair. One house in Toe Head at this time is class 1 which means that it was slated and built with stone or brick and lime mortar - it is described as medium (not new), slightly decayed but in good repair.  All houses in the townland at this time are between 5 foot (!)  and 7 foot 6 inches tall which indicates that they are single storey at this time. 

By the 1901 census (Pg 1Pg 2), there are 19 occupied houses in this townland and all have walls of stone, brick or concrete. Seventeen still have thatched roofs while the other two have roofs of slate, iron or tiles. All houses, bar one, have two, three or four rooms while the other just has one room. Four houses just have one window in front while the other fifteen have two windows which indicate that they are probably all still single storey at this time. 

When we advance to the 1911 census there are now 17 occupied houses in this townland and, not surprisingly, all still have walls of stone, brick or concrete. . Three are still thatched while the other fourteen have roofs of slate, iron or tiles.  15 houses have two, three or four rooms while one just has one room - the other house has five or six rooms. One house is listed as having no windows at the front while another has one window and twelve more have two windows in front (probably all single-storey). Two more houses have four windows and the other house has five windows in front.



Places of Interest 

Scenic Walk: A circular walk of about 2.5 km may be taken around this townland starting and finishing at Trá na nDadhcha (Tranadough Strand). The walk may be extended by taking in the significant habitat in this townland called the Móin Rua which is the large area of heathland  at the southern end of the peninsula.  Care should be taken on this walk as the rough path comes very close to exposed cliffs at several places. About 3 km offshore are the imposing sea stacks known as Na Stacaí/The Stags. The remnants of a promontory fort known as Dooneendermotmore (Dúinín Diarmuida Mhóir) are still visible on an outcrop of land looking out towards the Stags on the western fringe of the Móin Rua. Diarmuid Mór is said to have been a notorious pirate who occupied the fort in about the 16th century. This promontory fort was excavated by a team of archaeologists led by Prof. Micahel O'Kelly of UCC in 1951. An 'Éire' sign (Éire 28) composed of lichen-covered rocks may be found on the southern side of the Móin Rua. It was constructed about 1941 to alert pilots of British and German aircraft to their location over neutral Ireland. Lóitheán na gCleas is a rocky sea-water pool on the southern fringe of the Móin Rua where youngsters would play games such as diving for a bowl during the summer months while Rónseach was a spot where seal hunting would take place. The Mass rock (Cloch an tSagairt) can be found at the highest point of this walk. Carraig a' Rince (just east of Cloch an tSagairt) is a spot with fine northerly views where locals would gather for crossroad dancing in the early to mid 1900s. The Stags Rocks were the scene of one of the most disastrous shipwrecks of recent times in Irish waters when the Kowloon Bridge carrying  a cargo of iron ore from Canada to Scotland went down in 1986. This resulted in a major oil spill that did significant damage to the local coastal and marine environment.

Lóitheán na gCleas - Rock Pool

Holy Well: A holy well dedicated to Naomh Parthalán can be found just above the shoreline about 150 metres west of the southern end of Trá na nDamhac (Tranadough Strand.) The name Partaláin is generally anglicised as Bartholomew which remains a popular name in the immediate locality. This Holy Well offered a cure for ailments of the eyes. The feast day associated with Partaláin is the 14th May. The well may be visited with the landowner's permission but care should be taken and due respect given to field boundaries, animals, crops and electric fences. 

Móin Ruadh: can be interpreted as the red bog. This is a 56-acre area of commonage heathland that crosses Toehead and Gortacrossig. It has mainly flat, poor land. Eight shares were allocated between six owners.

Móin Ruadh

Lios: This townland is possibly unique in having a lios which is may be the only square 'ring' fort in Cork! 

See OpenStreetMap for accurate locations for all of these places.

The Promontory Fort and Holy Well are both mentioned in the Historic Environment Viewer. In addition, a bawn is mentioned adjacent to the holy well. An enclosure is mentioned which is likely to be the square lios mentioned above and a hut-site at the western end of the townland is also mapped.


Interesting Placenames

Besides those mentioned above, there is an area called Meal Tighe Diomhaind ???

We have also mapped the following field names in this townland: Lisheen, Dabhcha (presumably related to name of strand immediately north (Trá na Dabhcha), Garraí Nua (new potato field), Gort a Tobair (field with the well), Garraí Fairsing (broad, expansive field), Garraí na gCloch (field of stones), Páirc Mhór (big field), Gort a' Choléir (gort = field, cúiléar or ciléar (a shallow tub for milk or butter???), Gort an Chláir (possibly meaning the flat field), Meal Tighe Diomhain (possibly the knoll of the unoccupied house), Cnoc Mhór (big hill), Garraí Chrochair (possibly Garraí Chrobhair (field of sheep droppings) or Garraí Chlochair (stoney field)), Mullach Beag (small peak/hill)), Páircín Bhán (untilled field), Mullach (peak/hill), Garraí Árd (high potato field), Sliongán (meaning unknown - maybe a variation of sliogán which is a shell), Garraí a' Phóna (pound garden/field), Clais Fada (long field), Bán Buí (yellow pasture - perhaps related to gorse colour?), Leaca East and Leaca West (Leaca is a sloping field), Garraí Thaidhg (Tadh's or Tim's garden), Sexton's Paircíns (Sexton's small fields), The Grafín (grubbed field), Páirc a' Phóna (pound field), Garraí Gorm (unknown), Bán Gearr (unknown).

The Móin Rua is dividedinto the folowing sections - Sliabh na Choirce (moor/bog of oats - farmers once tried to grow oats here), Sliabh Lár (middle heath/bog), Móin Rua Beag (small, red bog), Páirc Chuas na gCrothóg (field of the cove of the pollock).

Being a coastal townland where fishing was formerly of considerable importance, it is not surprising that there is a wealth of names for the many coves, cliffs and pools that mark the coastline. Among the most interesting are Cuasín a' Tobair  (the name given to the tiny inlet under Tobar Parthalán), Rónseach (a spot where you might see a seal or two), Cuas na Naoínra (for the kiddies), Trá Leathan, Cuas na Bacallach (a twisted cove), Cuas Mór Uanáin (a cuas where sea froth was much in evidence), Lochán na gCleas (a sea pool for fun and games) and Cuas a' Teorainn (marking the boundary with neighbouring Gort a Chrosaigh).

There is a road in this townland called Bothar an Phóna which translates to the pound road. It leads to a field called Páirc a' Phóna (the pound field). Pounds were used in the past to hold confiscated animals when tithes were not paid to the Chuch of Ireland

If you want to see the actual locations  of any of these, go to detailed townland map on Open Street Maps. If you know any other field names or placenames in this townland (or if you need to correct any or give further background information), please contact us at [email protected]



Holy Well: The pilgrimage to Tobar Pharthaláin continued to take place on the 14th May up until the late 1800s. It was believed that Naomh Parthalán had had his sight restored after bathing his eyes in the well. The rounds on the Saint's feast day involved making three rounds anti-clockwise around the well and saying a decade of the rosary each time. Rags of clothing (singirlín or siogairlín) were tied to the branches of a bush beside the well. A white stone would be used as a marker for each round. A litany would then be recited on completion.  Pilgrims seeking a cure for eye aliments wouldn't bathe their eyes but, instead, the water would be drunk and taken home. It was said that a fish lived in the well and on one occasion, a pilgrim filled a bucket with water and took home the fish. The water refused to boil so the bucket of water with the fish in it was returned to the well. Source: An Dúinín, The Schools' Collection (www.dúchas.ie)


Faoistin Diarmuida Mhóir:

‘A Mhathúin’, arsa Diarmuid, agus é ar leabaidh a bháis,

‘A Mhathúin’, éirigh ad’ iarraidh an t-sagairt chugham’.

Tháinig an sagart agus ar seisean,

‘A Dhiarmuid Mhóir, cuir síos do pheacaí dham’.

Thosnuigh sé ar an bhfaoisdin:

‘Admhaím d’Íosa is do Rí Gheal na Cruinne

Nárbh ionntaibh Dia hAoine mé i gcuibhreann na saille;

Admhaím don Tiarna ná féatainn bheith grámhar

Ar eagla go n-iarrfhadh accn’ orm iasacht nú áirithe;

Agus cúis a bhíodh agam mo gheataí bheith dúnta

Chun an t-é ‘bheadh dealbh a sheachaint óm chúlach;

Agus cúis a bhíodh agam mo gheataí bheith iata

Chun aisdear a bhaint as na cosaibh do thriallfadh.’


Tháinig fearg ar an sagart agus do léigh sé Salm na Mallacht:

‘Losca teine ort,

Báth’ uisce ort,

Agus bascadh féithe:

An prótócum agus an roscarum rabhrum

Bheith a’ do’ th’anama in Ifreann

Faid a bheith Dia ag caitheamh na Glóire’.


Ba mhaith an mhaise age Diarmuid é:                                                Diarmuid was equal to him


Tuigim th’absolóid, a shagairt,’ ar seisean,

‘Ach ní mian liom í ghlacadh,

Mar a bhfaighteá-sa só agus rósta i dti’ do chomhursan

Ba ró-mhaith thú chun a chaite!’

This version of Diarmuid Mór’s last confession as given by Seanchaí Conchúir Uí Shíocháin, Cnocán na mBáirne, Inis Cléire, to Mr Seán de Nais of Bantry was recorded in June 1932



Families and Notable Residents 

The 1657 Down survey lists the area as Twoh (probably a corruption of Tuaithe) and the Earl of Castlehaven is listed as the owner. This probably indicates that this was Uí Dhrisceoil territory that was forfeited after the Battle of Kinsale

The Tithe Applotment books of 1825 list the following family names: Cronin, Sheehan, Burke, Sweeney, Sexton, Keohane, Sullivan, Dryer (Dwyer?), Cathigans (Cadogan?), Cain (Keane?) West, Hourihane, Holland, Hurley.

Griffiths Valuation of 1853 lists the following family names: Sullivan, Connolly, Sexton, Sexton, Hurley, Keohane, Sheehan, Murphy, Hallahan, Sweeney, Cronin, Cronin, Kohane, Kohane, McCarthy. Cronin, Sheehan, Sheehan, Sullivan, Sulivan

The Census of Ireland of 1901 (where Toehead is erroneously called The Head') lists the following family names: Hallihane, Hallihane (with Hegarthy (3 x son and 2 x daughter)), Hallihane, Sweeney, Mahony, Barry (with Collins (grandson)), Barry (with Sexton (nephew)), Keohane, Daly (with Hurley (mother-in-law)), Sullivan, Sheehan, Sexton, Sexton, Leahy, Cronin, McCarthy 

The Census of Ireland of 1911 lists the following family names: Hallihane, Hallihane (with Hegarty (3 x son and 2 x daughter)), Hallihane, Sweeney, Mahoney (with McCarthy (daughter)), Barry (with Sexton (nephew)), Barry, Keohane, Daly, Hurley, Keohane, Sheehan, Sexton, Sexton, Cronin, McCarthy .

Note: the term 'with' refers to a person or persons of a different family name staying in the house. This may have been an in-law or other relative, a guest, or a farm labourer/housekeeper or domestic servant.


Demographics and Landholding

    *Occupiers Population Change Link to record
1825 Tithe Applotment 17 120 est.   1825
1841 Census of Ireland 22 133    
1851 Census of Ireland 19 125    
1853 Griffith's Valuation

22 (Incl. 2 unoccupied)

125 est.   1853
1861 Census of Ireland 19 105    
1871 Census of Ireland 19 95    
1881 Census of Ireland 22 113    
1891 Census of Ireland 22 122    
1901 Census of Ireland 20 95   1901
1911 Census of Ireland 17 81   1911

*Occupiers generally equate to households having a house and land but may also include households having houses but no land.

Between 1656 and 1658 the Down Survey mapped all areas of the country to track ownership of land after much had been granted to followers of Cromwell after the war of the 1650's. The most prominent proprietor (titulado) of this townland at that time was the Earle of Castlehaven. This townland was part of Twoh at that time.

The proprietor of this townland in 1841 was Lord Audley of London. It was first let by lease to Lord Riversdale and from him to Daniel Callaghan & Co., Cork,  and from these by lease to Messrs Shaw of London who sub-let it to Thomas Somerville of Drishane, Castletownshend and last of all sub-let to tenants without a lease. Toehead was notable for the practice of shared landholding (shared leases) which persisted into the years after the famine - sometime after the practice had ceased elsewhere in the parish.

In 1841 the soil was described as poor and coarse producing light crops of potatoes and wheat.



Lochán na gCleas - Rock Pool



Toehead 1950s


Sign at Toe Head


Local Businesses and Services




This local tour company organise a clifftop hike at Toe Head, an area not known to many but spectacularly beautiful. This hike covers hidden rock pools and amazing vistas and wildlife.


Tel: +353 (0)83 015 3545

Email: [email protected]




Further Reading

  • Parish Histories and Placenames of West Cork - Bruno O'Donoghue  

  • Placenames Database of Ireland Logainm.ie entry for statutory version in Irish and English

  • A Collection Of Placenames From Cork County, Barony Of West Carbery (East Div.),Volume 2 - Dr Éamon Lankford
  • Castlehaven & Myross History Society Journal Vol. 1 - 2020  Memories of Summers In Toe Head - Tricia Gibson
  • Castlehaven & Myross History Society Journal Vol. 1 - 2020  Childhood Memories of the Toe Head in the 1950's and 60's - Jane Carey
  • Castlehaven & Myross History Society Journal Vol. 2 - 2021  The Evolution of Settlement and Landholding in South Castlehaven in the 19th Century by Michael Sexton
  • Castlehaven & Myross History Society Journal Vol. 2 - 2021  A Trip to Toe Head by Martin O'Halloran
  • Castlehaven & Myross History Society Journal Vol. 3 - 2022 Tobar Phartaláin Naomhtha, Ceann Tuaithe by Michael Sexton
  • Castlehaven & Myross History Society Journal Vol. 3 - 2022 Toehead Wreckers by Brian Limrick
  • Parish Histories and Place Names of West Cork - Bruno O'Donoghue
  • A Castlehaven Episode in the Nine Years War, Ser. 2, Vol. 77, No. 225 (1972), Pg 40-44 by J. Coombes
  • Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy: Archaeology, Culture, History, Literature Vol 55 (1952/53) Three Promontory Forts in Co. Cork, Michael J. O'Kelly,John T. Collins, P. O'Connor, A.W. Stelfox, G. Roche and G.A. Hayes Mc-Coy (Appendix IV)
  • See townlands.ie for information on this townland 




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