I’ve been thinking about the first name Gabriel with a last name beginning with B ever since Emily’s consultation — though so many of you liked the idea of Gabriel for her, for Simon’s little brother, there was the strong opinion that the possibility of Gabe B__ — and the resulting sound of Gay B__ — rendered Gabriel unusable (here, here, here).
I hadn’t thought of that possibility when I suggested Gabriel, and I do agree that it’s something to be seriously considered. And it also made me think of two famous men who are Gabriel B., and how one of them is a perfect example of how times change.
First off: the actor Gabriel Byrne. He is so great, I just love him, especially in Little Women. And he’s Irish. (You know me and Irish!) (And, btw, he has a son named Jack Daniel! How funny! And a daughter named Romy Marion, which is striking me as really cool and faith-y all at once.) (Also, he received an honorary degree from the National University of Ireland, Galway, which is where I studied abroad. 🙂 ) At least professionally, he’s circumvented the Gay B__ possibility by going by the full Gabriel.
Second, less well known to Americans but a BIG DEAL in Ireland is TV personality Gay Byrne whose given name is … wait for it …
Gabriel Mary Byrne.
Ohmygoodness I could die of happiness over that combo. Gabriel and Mary in one boy’s name? Love love love!
And I love that he too is Irish — because of these two men, Gabriel has always struck me as an Irish name (“Irish” meaning “used with some frequency in Ireland”).
Anyway, he hosted The Late Late Show from 1962 to 1999 (“the world’s longest-running chat show”) and he was “the first person to introduce The Beatles on screen,” among other things. Like I said, a BIG DEAL.
And he’s always gone by Gay. Or, affectionately, Uncle Gay, Gaybo, and Uncle Gaybo. I know this all started in a time when Gay wasn’t fraught with its current meaning, but it’s sort of hilarious how over-the-top his nicknames are, like he just decided to heck with it.
Mr. Byrne is still around — I had the privilege of chatting with him when I represented New York in the Rose of Tralee Festival and he was a judge — and still goes by Gay. It’d be so interesting to hear his thoughts on his name! Especially as times have changed.
Do any of you know a Gabriel B.? How old is he, and has Gabe B__ been a problem?