Hibernia is the
Classical Latin name for the island of Ireland. The
Hibernia was taken from Greek geographical accounts. During his
exploration of northwest Europe (c. 320 BC),
Pytheas of Massilia
called the island Iérnē (written Ἰέρνη). In his book
Geographia (c. 150 AD), Claudius Ptolemaeus ("Ptolemy") called the
island Iouerníā (written Ἰουερνία, where "ου"/ou stands
for w). The Roman historian Tacitus, in his book Agricola (c. 98 AD),
uses the name Hibernia.
Ἰουερνία Iouerníā was a Greek rendering of the Q-Celtic
name *Īweriū, from which eventually arose the Irish names
Éire. The name was altered in
Latin (influenced by the word hibernus)
as though it meant "land of winter".
The High King
Brian Boru (c. 941–1014) based his title on being
emperor of the Scots people, which was in
Latin Imperator Scottorum,
as distinct from claiming to be Emperor of the island of Ireland. From
1172 Lordship of
Ireland gave the King of
England the additional title
Dominus Hibernie (sic, for Hiberniae; also Dominus Hybernie), 'Lord of
Ireland'. The Kingdom of
Ireland created the title Rex Hiberniae, King
of Ireland, for use in
Latin texts. Gerard Mercator called Ireland
"Hybernia" on his world map of 1541. In 1642 the motto of the Irish
Confederates, a Catholic-landlord administration that ruled much of
Ireland until 1650 was Pro Deo, Rege et Patria,
(English: 'For God, King and Fatherland,
Ireland is United').
However, unlike many Roman geographical names, the
not become the basis for the name for
Ireland in any modern languages,
with even Italian using Irlanda. Apart from the
Celtic languages all
modern languages use a local variant of the English "Ireland". This is
presumably because direct medieval contacts between
continental Europe were at too low a level to embed use of the
Hibernian root, or the original Irish Éire, in local vernaculars.
By the classicising 18th century the use of
Hibernia had revived in
some contexts, just as had the use of Caledonia, one of the Latin
terms for Scotland, and
Britannia for Britain. "Hibernia" was used on
Irish coins and companies such as the
Hibernian Insurance Company
Hibernian Insurance Company were
established (later renamed the Hibernian Group). The name took on
popularity with the success of the Irish Patriot Party. At a time when
Palladian classical architecture and design were being adopted in
Hibernia was a useful word to describe
overtones of classical style and civility, including by the prosperous
Anglo-Irish Ascendancy who were taught
Latin at school. "Hibernian"
was used as a term for people, and a general adjective. The Royal
Exchange in Dublin was built in 1769–79 with the carved inscription
"SPQH" for Senatus PopulusQue Hibernicus 'the senate and people of
Royal Hibernian Academy dates from 1823.
The 18th Century Spanish Regiment composed of Irish exiles was known
as the Regiment of Hibernia.
Hibernia is a word that is rarely used today with regard to Ireland,
except in long-established names. It is occasionally used for names
of organisations and various other things; for instance: Hibernia
National Bank, Hibernian Insurance Group, Ancient Order of Hibernians,
The Hibernian magazine,
Hibernia College, Hibernian Football Club,
HMS Hibernia, and modern derivatives, from
Latin like Respublica
Hibernica (Irish Republic) and Universitas Hiberniae Nationalis
(National University of Ireland). In Canada,
Hibernia lends its name
Hibernia oil field
Hibernia oil field off Newfoundland, and to a large sea oil
platform there, the Hibernia.
Another occurrence is in familial Hibernian fever or TRAPS (tumor
necrosis factor receptor-associated periodic syndrome), a periodic
fever first described in 1982 in a family of Irish and Scottish
descent, but found in all ethnic groups.
The compound form 'Hiberno-' remains more common, as 'Hiberno-Norse',
'Hiberno-English', 'Hiberno-Scottish', 'Hibernophile', etc.
Edinburgh football club
Hibernian FC has adopted the name.
^ Mercator's world map of 1541
^ McPartland E. The Royal Exchange Competition JRSAI vol.102, p.63.
See the original SPQR.
^ Although it is found in the first line of the Aeolus section (part
2, episode 7) of James Joyce's novel Ulysses: IN THE HEART OF THE
HIBERNIAN METROPOLIS (a fictional newspaper headline referring to
^ Laxer, Ronald M.; David D. Sherry (June 2012). "Pediatric
Rheumatology, An Issue of Pediatric Clinics". The Clinics: Internal
Medicine. Elsevier Health Sciences. 59 (2). The
TNF-receptor-associated periodic syndrome. ISBN 9781455744251.
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