Now, don’t worry – I am just broody. Ha ha. 🙂 Several of my friends, here and abroad, are working on their second or third offspring as we speak, and several more have young babes in arms that I’ve been admiring. I can’t help it – a girl can dream, can’t she? I love kids, and I’ve always wanted a good few. A happy home in my mind is one with many pairs of little shoes littering the floor, sticky fingerprints on the mirrors and stacks and stacks of colourful picture books dominating every free space. I can’t wait until Numero Dos comes along for us. But I guess I’m gonna just have to wait, because it’s not happening now. 🙂
However, that doesn’t mean I can’t help my friends think of names for their new additions… and Ireland has its fair share of traditional names, funnily enough, ones that are NOT what a romantic American ideal would have predicted. I have never met a Katie, Megan or Erin for instance, or anything like that. It’s more common to hear Christine, Margaret , Lorraine or Anne… and I also know a number of Siobhans, Niamhs and Orlas. Boys names are a bit more predictable, perhaps – there are a lot of Seans, Patricks and Conors, but also many Cillians, Oisins, and Fionns.
Here are a few of my favourites – and least favourites – in traditional Irish names:
Favs – Girls:
Aoife (pron. Ee-fa)
Ciara (pron. Kee-ra or, for my American niece, Sierra :))
Aine (pron. Awn-ya)
Caoimhe (pron. Kee-va or Kwee-va)
Least Favs – Girls:
Grainne (pron. Graw-nya)
Eimear (pron. Ee-mer)
Ailish (pron. A-lish)
Dearbhail (pron. Derv-lah)
Favs – Boys:
Seamus or Se (pron. Shay-mus or Shay)
Kieran (pron. Keer-in)
Tadhg (pron. Tye-g)
Darragh (pron. Da-ra)
Least Favs – Boys:
Fergal or Fergus
Cathal (pron. Ka-hal)
Niall (rhymes with “mile,” not to be confused with Noel, which is a Kelly name :))
Another whole sub-category is nicknames… and many, many, many people go by their nicknames here. Frank’s uncles, for instance, rarely use their given names, but instead go by Skinny, Polo, Captain and Audie. According to Frank, there are a lot of common nicknames that simply go with a person’s surname, such as calling a man with the last name Murphy simply “Spud.” There’s also “Muzz” for Murray and “Fitzy” for Fitzgerald or Fitzpatrick.
No wonder it can get confusing here. 🙂
Even though the names can be a bit tricky, though, I love them. I love that they’re unique to this country and that they carry on, even with the younger generations. A lot of them come from the Saints – and back in the day, you actually HAD to be christened with a Saint’s name, thus Francis Kelly, but like so many things, they now relate more to family and cultural history than church doctrine.
I hope they stick around for the long run, as there are definitely more outside baby names coming in all the time – last year’s top names were far from the Irish language standards I’ve shared here and went more generic UK/USA, in my opinion.
But would an Irish name be able to stick it out somewhere else? I love Aoife and Seamus, but would I want my child to continuously having to correct teachers and schoolmates in the USA? That is a question to be pondered indeed…
If you’re interested in more Irish names and their pronunciations, this site is quite helpful.