A World of Funny Place Names
We almost didn’t bother with the little town of Muff in County Donegal, Ireland. We found it fairly amusing, but it didn’t seem to be up there with the big boys at first. Then we discovered that they have a Muff Festival every year, which sounds better and possibly worth a nose. What really tipped the balance was the town’s very own watersports society (aquatic, not Trump), Muff Diving Club! Yes, the town of Muff has a Muff Diving Club. Even if it was nowhere near the sea you would simply have to set up a Muff Diving Club, it’s just too irresistible.
Booger Hole, West Virginia
In folklore, the name Booger Hole comes from about a dozen murders committed there in the early 1900’s and blamed on the boogyman. The problem with the story is that it was already called Booger Hole by the time of the murders. It was actually given to us by Mark Twain when he wrote about a nameless hamlet where residents “always had a grimey digit in their booger hole“, the residents were unable to pick anything else so the name stuck. Other examples of American nasal communities are Nose Pick (New Mexico), Bogey (Iowa), Snot (also Iowa), Nose Dribble (North Dakota) and Frozen Snot (Alaska),
Toad Suck, Arkansas
When it comes to funny place names, America has one of the best collections and Toad Suck, Arkansas is amongst our favourites. Toad Suck isn’t so much a town as a bend in the Arkansas River where a ferry used to cross and steamboats would tie up. There was a tavern there and people would hang around and “suck on the bottle ’til they swell up like toads” hence the name Toad Suck! A Toad Suck Daze festival takes place every year to raise money for college scholarships and even includes a Tour de Toad bicycle race.
With a population of less than 300, Humptulips in the state of Washington is a surprisingly well known little town. The author Terry Pratchett said it was his favourite place on the planet and it appears in one form or other in a couple of his novels. In the novel Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins it is mentioned as home to the Vatican’s secret order of Catholic assassin monks.
Let’s finish our tour of funny place names with the ancient market town of Cockermouth in Cumbria, England. Cockermouth was so named as nothing more than cynical a marketing ploy thought up by the townspeople during the great depression of the 1960’s. Until this time it was called Hadcock, standing as it does on the exit of the River Cocker into the River Derwent. It is not, as some people think, named simply to cause sniggering amongst schoolchildren and immature adults. Every few years there is a campaign to have the name Cockermouth changed to something less… well, graphic. Members of these campaigns seem to come from places with names such as Humourless and Twatt and they are to be resisted and ridiculed at every opportunity.