Sometimes location names tell their own story. And Jamaica’s towns, districts, rivers and streets have some really interesting ones – some are misleading, some are derived from family names, and some don’t mean what you think they mean!
Often the names denotes a geographic feature or landmark (Above Rocks, Red Ground, Blue Mountains, Corner Shop), or were named after the original landowner or were named for the homelands of immigrants who settled there (Dublin Castle, Irish Town, Egypt). Some have Arawak names (Jamaica, Liguanea), or Spanish (Oracabessa, Ocho Rios, Rio Grande), or British (Somerset, High Gate).
But many of the names are purely Jamaican! Jamaicans enjoy naming things and they call it as they see it, so these locatin names might describe an incidient that happened there or a particular feeling or sentiment they wanted to convey (Rest-and-Be-Thankful, Me-No-Call-You-No-Call, Bad Times, Broke My Neck Gully, Half Way Tree, Putogether Corner, Dump, Shambles, Rat Trap, Poor Mans Corner, Sally’s Delight, Betty’s Hope, Thankful Hill, Boldness, Good Design, Excellent Town, Happy Retreat, Heart Ease, Friendship and Welcome). Yes those are all the names of places in Jamaica!
- Accompong – (a Maroon settlement) is in Saint Elizabeth. This name is said to be derived from the Ashanti word, Nyamekopon, which means “the lone one, the warrior”. This name was also given to one of the brothers of Captain Cudjoe, the second Maroon leader. Accompong was established in 1739.
- Alligator Pond – in Saint Elizabeth: The name is said by locals to derive from the shape of the mountain range, which when sen from the beach, has bumps which look like an alligator’s back.
- Blackness – in Trelawny, refers to the rich color of the soil found in this area. The color is said to indicate the richness of the soil as is the case of the red earth in other parts of the island.
- Bloody Bay – in Saint James is said to derive from the killing of whales there.
- Catherine’s Peak – in Portland, is named for Catherine Long, the wife of famed pirate-turned-governor, Sir Henry Morgan. She is believed to have been the first woman to scale the 5,050-foot high peak.
- Duppy Gate – is in Saint Andrew. (Duppy is a Jamaican ghost). Legend has it that the gate is haunted by the ghost of an officer from the days when the West India Regiments occupied the base. Soldiers have reported visits from a mysterious officer dressed in period uniform with a sword slapping against his leg, who would suddenly vanish as they were ready to report.
- Shoe Myself Gate – in Saint Elizabeth, derives from the fact tha when someone in town who was not accustomed to wearing shoes got a new pair, they would carry the shoes over their shoulders until they reached their destination. At the gate, they would “shoe themselves”.
- Try See – in Saint Ann, is a post-emancipation name inspired by the idea of having former slaves who received land “try and see” what they could do with it.
- Wait A Bit – in Trelawny, derives its name form the Wait-a-bit thorn, believed to have been brought to Jamaica by African slaves.
- White Shop – in Clarendon, just across the Manchester border, may have been so named because the shop that dominates the village square had once been painted white.
These are just a few of the unquire and unusual names of locations in Jamaica. There are plenty more that I will share at later day.