A few weeks ago I posted an article entitled ‘Interesting Jamaican Place Names.’ So many funny Jamaican place names didn’t make the cut, so I had to write a sequel. Jamaican place names are influenced by its previous Spanish and British colonizers, as well as other groups of people who have inhabited the island at various points in history. Therefore, it’s not odd that Jamaica has its own Madras and Bengal, having received indentured servants from India after slavery was abolished in 1838. Other places are inspired by the land such as Cedar Valley due to the cedar trees, Annotto Bay because annatto trees were planted there, and Bath in St. Thomas because it has a mineral bath. However, we aren’t here to discuss those basic place names. Today we discuss ten more funny and interesting Jamaican place names which I’m sure you won’t hear anywhere else across the world.
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1. Tan An See
Tan an’ See is a Jamaican Creole phrase which means ‘stand and see.’ Well, this piece of land in Trelawny sits on top of a hill and commands a beautiful view of open land. If you’re ever in this interesting Jamaican place, stand up and see (admire) the view.
2. Martha Brae
The Tainos are an indigenous Amerindian group of people who inhabited Jamaica before Columbus’ arrival. Legend has it that Martha Brae was an indigenous Taino woman who was tortured by Spanish invaders until she confessed where gold was hidden along the river. After telling them, she changed the course of the river, killed the settlers and blocked up the cave where gold is still hidden to this day. There may be zero truth to this story, however what’s true is that the Martha Brae community and river by the same name is a beautiful place for bamboo rafting in Jamaica.
3. Joe Hut
Joe Hut is named after its first settler, Joe. Joe came to Trelawny in the 1700s, acquired a plot of land and built a hut on it. He lived alone for a number of years. This deeply rural district is now home to dozens of persons, making Joe Hut a funny and interesting Jamaican place name.
4. Guanaboa Vale
Guanaboa is a corruption of the Taino word ‘guanabana’ for soursop. This St. Catherine district was once inhabited by the Tainos and subsequently used as a cattle ranch under Spanish rule. Present-day Guanaboa Vale is a sleepy rural village but occasionally receives traffic from visitors to the nearby Mountain River Cave and waterfall. Find a free full list of Jamaica’s waterfalls here.
5. Far Enough
The district of Far Enough in Clarendon consists of lands taken up by George McKenzie, a member of the failed Scotch Darien expedition of 1698. This interesting Jamaican place name was taken from the Scotch phrase “far enough from courts and kings.”
6. Fat Hog Quarter
Fat Hog Quarter in Hanover is so-called due to the abundance of hogs that were reared in the area during the 1700s. This was done to facilitate the export of lard to Cartagena.
7. Grateful Hill
Grateful Hill in St. Catherine is so-called because Baptist missionaries were grateful for having been granted land by an English squire to establish a church. You can’t go wrong with this interesting Jamaican place name.
8. Bull Head Mountain
The Bull Head Mountains is a 545-acre mountain range located in north Clarendon. The mountain is named for its shape of a bull head when seen out from sea. This interesting Jamaican place contains the island’s geographical centre, and has been my favourite hike of 2022.
9. Poor Man’s Corner
The residents of Poor Man’s Corner in St. Thomas don’t seem too pleased about their community’s name. They proudly proclaimed to the Jamaica Star newspaper in 2021 that there is no poverty in Poor Man’s Corner. Instead, the area is now a small but bustling commercial centre. This interesting Jamaican place name comes from an almshouse that was once located in the community.
Jamaica liked this funny place name so much that they duplicated it. There’s a Heartease in Manchester and another in St. Thomas. I didn’t find an explanation for these community names but I will assume that the meaning is straightforward. Something about these communities may put your heart at ease.
I learnt a lot of Jamaican history over the course of writing these two articles. If you missed part one, catch up on it here. Which Jamaican place name was the funniest? I uncovered many more funny Jamaican place names in my search so comment below if you’d be interested in reading a part three or four. Subscribe for new articles weekly!
‘Til next time.