Name Calling

My Baby and Me

I’m broody.

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.


5 thoughts on “Name Calling

  1. i have grandkids named Declan and Delaney. I never thought about little
    Declan having to correct people to pronouce his name correctly. Delaney is nicknamed Laney. Other grandkids Brendan and Brittany, but I don’t think Brittany is an Irish name (darn)

  2. Would it notbe the case that if these Irish names became more widely used in the US, that kids having to correct teachers would only be for the short. As these names become used more and more the less correction required.
    How about Pascal as an Irish name? Don’t think you would here it anywhere else.

  3. My American parents named me “Eavan,” which I imagine an Irish person would recognize but, to date, only one American ever has. It creates bucketloads of confusion and misspellings, but I haven’t minded correcting teachers and classmates. It seems a fair exchange for a pretty name that stands out in a crowd. Your kids’ mileage may vary!

  4. All very interesting. I think Declan and Delaney are easier names for the American pronunciation palate, but you never know.

    Is Pascal an Irish name originally? The only Pascal I knew before moving here was French.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen the spelling Eavan, but I can see how it would be confusing. Still a good name though. Well done to your parents.

    And Mike – Knute??? Really??? Wow, that is original. 🙂

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