The word Pill is historically associated with small rivers, particularly on the Three Sister Rivers in the south east of Ireland – the Barrow, Nore & Suir and the word can be found in the counties of Waterford, Wexford, Kilkenny and Tipperary. Initial research suggests it is an imported word, possibly of Norman origin, to describe a tidal, winding river inlet. Whilst many are incorporated into the local placename such as Piltown in Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford and Campile in Wexford, others are less obvious. Many of these have slipped out of regular use, but may enjoy some local use and retention by river users.
In 2023 I commenced an initiative to access funding for a project to reclaim and preserve the word for future generations. I wrote up a proposal and brought it to various agencies. Waterford City & County Council agreed to fund an initial piece of research into St John’s River in the city, which to generations was simply called The Pill. This work is ongoing and it needs a champion/sponsor if you are so minded.
The work will focus on six key elements of each river-
· River network
· Built heritage
· Maritime Trade
· Fishery, and the
· Social history incl folklore and personal memories
The Pills so far identified are below