First published in the Scotsman on 17 September 2016
The name of this well-known suburb, Partick (perteyk in 1136), is of British, that is pre-Gaelic, origin. It likely meant ‘little copse’, coming from the same root as Perth (in Gaelic Peairt) deriving from British pert ‘copse’, with a diminutive suffix. In antiquity Gaelic lost the sound [p] so when it occurs in the language, it is nearly always as part of a loan word from another language.
Although the modern Gaelic for Partick is Partaig, as seen on the bilingual sign at the railway station and used locally, this is a modern form derived from the English name. In the nineteenth century, Gaels who lived in Glasgow referred it as Pearthaig or Pearraig. Indeed, this Gaelic form was so well-known it gave rise to a saying: when a young boy was restless it was said of him, cho lùthmhor ri Muileann Phearraig ‘as agile as Partick Mill’.
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