Ardmore – An Irish And American Town Name

Towns named Ardmore dot the American map, appearing in numerous states throughout this nation.  The original Ardmore is a village in County Waterford located beside a beautiful beach and magnificent cliffs.  Aird Mhór in Irish literally means” great height”.

I always laughed when I passed Ardmore Drive, a street in one Florida neighborhood, close to where I lived many years ago.  It was situated on the flattest land ever – no height involved whatsoever.

There are many places in America called after this beautiful seaside Irish village.  Ardmore, Pennsylvania is a western suberb of Philadelphia, and Ardmore, Oklahoma lies equidistant from Oklahoma City and Dallas, Texas.  I often wonder if either American location is on a “great height” as the name suggests.

In today’s post I thought we might take a quick look at the original Ardmore, which inspired so many Americans in naming their new towns.

The cliffs at Ardmore, Ireland rise high above the Atlantic swells, with lofty precipices jutting southwards into the waters.

A cliff path winds around the spectacular coastline.


Cliff walkers pass the ruins of an ancient church, an old coastguard station, and St. Declan’s Cell and Holy Well.  It is reported that St. Declan brought Christianity to this area of Waterford long before St. Patrick ever reached Ireland.

The ruins of a 13th century cathedral lie on a hill above the village.  The carvings on the cathedral wall  date back to a 9th century church. Credit

A magnificent 12th century round tower overlooks the village from its prominent elevated position.  It is a well-preserved example of these ancient bell towers, which were possibly also used as a place of refuge.

Ardmore Beach - © Copyright Paul Leonard and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons License

Image Credit

Ardmore Beach boasts sandy shores and beautiful views of Ireland’s southern Atlantic coastline.

Memories of this wild and beautiful landscape must surely have haunted immigrants to America who left their beloved Ardmore behind.  Perhaps a longing for an ancient, spiritual link to their homeland inspired them to name so many new hometowns after their childhood village.  I believe Ardmore’s skies, winds, cliffs, ocean and sandy shores  remained vividly seared in their minds’ eye.

Today the ancient ruins of Ardmore commemorate the sorrows and joys of her long lost children, those forced to depart to seek a better life. Ardmore’s mystical stones are invisibly etched with their memories.  These immigrants never forgot the place of their birth, and Ardmore remembers them forever.

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)



Irish American Mom


  1. Beautiful images as always Mairead, I especially like the huge strand, it is beaconing for a good game of ball, and then a quick dip. You’re right to how many places share like names, as I wake up today wasn’t sure if I was in Boston Ma., or Boston County Clare.

    • Brian – As I drive around Kentucky and other states in America it is amazing how many towns have Irish names. When we drove to New York from Kentucky a few years ago we even passed a place called Letterkenny, PA, named after my husband’s hometown. I think there is an army depot there. I might start taking photos of signposts with Irish place names.
      Hope you have a great weekend in Boston, MA.

  2. Mairead, what beautiful pictures! Even though I’m afraid of heights, I would be drawn to those cliffs. From the pictures, the look breath-taking! That 13th Century tower is amazing. How the heck did they manage to build it way back then without any technology? And it’s STILL standing in all its splendor!

    Have a super weekend!

    • oops “they” look breath-taking.

      And it’s a 12th Century tower. Makes it even more amazing.

    • Pamela – there are many round towers still standing all around Ireland. Some are missing roofs, but many are completely intact. I love how ancient buildings dot the Irish countryside. It is amazing how they have survived the elements all though the centuries, especially Ireland’s wet and windy climate. You are so right – builders from hundreds of years ago sure knew what they were doing.

      Have a wonderful weekend too!

  3. Oh, the picture of the tree clinging precariously to the cliff with the beautiful colors of the sky behind it….perfection!

  4. Mairead, we drive through Ardmore, OK anytime we drive from our home in SE KS to the Dallas or Houston area. As I recall, it’s not on a height of any kind.

    • Cheryl – I guessed Ardmore, OK might be pretty flat, especially after living in Dallas for 7 years, surrounded by flat, open grasslands. There aren’t too many mountains in that part of Oklahoma either. But whether on a height or even ground, Ardmore is still a lovely name for any town. Best wishes!

  5. Quite by chance, I came across your lovely site. I live and work as an artist in the beautiful Ardmore in Co. Waterford where I can’t help but be inspired by my surroundings. Recently I was in a little place called Hollywood in Co. Wicklow where the sheep happily graze around their “Hollywood ” sign set high on a hill! It is lovely to think of lots of Ardmores and other Irish place names dotted across America. X

    • Brigid – You are so lucky to live in such a beautiful spot as Ardmore, Co. Waterford. I fully understand how your magnificent surroundings inspire your artwork. I took a look at your website and love your paintings, especially your cow pictures. My family have a farm in Co. Cork and my mother named every cow and calf she ever raised. Each had their own personality which seemed to shine through their big, inquiring eyes, a look you capture poignantly in your artwork.
      Thanks so much for stopping by and for your lovely comment.
      Best wishes.

  6. My Hometown…

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