Happy Irish week! Woot! If you’re into Irish names like I am, you might like to take a look at my past St. Patrick Day posts, as well as all the posts I’ve done that I’ve included the tag “Irish names” or otherwise mention Irish names in the post. There’s also the feast of St. Clement Mary Hofbauer (my parish’s Saint) on Tuesday and St. Joseph on Saturday — a great, heavy-hitting week! Let’s start it off with this fun consultation by Theresa Zoe Williams!
Mama Abby writes in,
“We need help naming our third baby. Baby girl is due April 25 and we are having trouble choosing her name.
Her older sister is Margaret Jane nickname Meg. Margaret wasn’t a name that was on either of our preferred name lists but was really the only name I would consider when I was pregnant with her. My husband was skeptical until the delivery room when he saw her and agreed that it was the correct name for her. We picked Jane because we liked how it sounded with Margaret (and slightly because of the association with Peter Pan). We almost switched it to Clare because she was born on the feast of St. Clare.
Baby’s older brother is Stephen Paul, we call him Paul. He is named after both of his grandfathers and his dad’s name is Stephen as well. We picked the name for our first son before we got married so this one was easy.
In terms of style we both like traditional names or traditional Catholic/saint names. I also want a name that either fits or has a nickname that fits well with Meg and Paul because those names go so well together.”
Names on their shortlist are:
- Therese (“her nickname would be Tess. I love St. Therese and feel like God told me in prayer that He would give me a daughter named Tess. So this will be on my list until we find her, just not sure it’s this baby. My husband likes this name but we are having trouble coming up with a middle name that we both like”)
- Caroline (“I think this is my husbands favorite girl name and I like it too. My main concern with this one is how it fits with our other two kids. I don’t like the nickname Carrie but would consider Cara. I’ve never really heard of that before but it makes some sense”)
- C/Katherine (“nickname Kate. Middle name would be either Isabelle or Mirabelle though I am open to more out of the box suggestions for middle name since both Katherine and our last name are fairly vanilla. It seems like a good place to add something super Catholic”)
- Elizabeth (“nickname would be Eliza. My husband isn’t as sold on this one and I worry about it becoming too reminiscent of the British royal family. Also doing some research on this I found that Tess has been used as a nickname for Elizabeth as well- so we would consider Elizabeth Therese nickname Tess but I’m worried it’s a little bit of a stretch”)
- Leah (“I think this is such a cute name, my husband isn’t as sold but he likes Leah Therese which I have mixed feelings about (we wouldn’t use a name as a first name that we had previously used as a middle)”)
Some other thoughts on names Abby had,
“I have a devotion to St Gianna (I’m also a pediatrician) but I don’t know if we would use it as a first name. We are considering Anne as a middle name for my mother. Our son has both grandfathers’ names and Margaret is actually my grandmother’s name and my husbands aunt’s name (she died as an infant) though that’s not why we chose her name. We plan to use Benedict Grey for our next son. Grey is my mother in law’s maiden name.”
Some names they cannot use include:
First, let me talk a bit about their shortlist.
Therese nn Tess- I love this and the nickname Tess. Tess goes so well with Meg and Paul, as does Therese with Margaret and Stephen. I think they’d be hard-pressed to pass on this name. I think any of the names on their shortlist would work as a great middle name with this, too. My favorites are Therese Caroline, Therese C/Katherine and Therese Elizabeth.
Caroline- Beautiful name with fun nickname options. I don’t think Carrie or Cara go as nicely with Meg and Paul, but they’re still cute.
C/Katherine nn Kate- If they’re going to go with Kate as the nickname, I’d go with Katherine. Another lovely name that fits right in with their other two. Another can’t miss name. Also, I love that they’d branch out of their established style a bit in the middle spot with this name with either Isabelle or Mirabelle.
Elizabeth nn Eliza or Elizabeth Therese nn Tess- I love this! Elizabeth is the ultimate classic name, literally never going out of style and with so many nickname options! I love either an Eliza or Tess with the older kids. Such a great name.
Leah- A little different from their other kids, especially since it doesn’t have a natural nickname. Leah Therese is beautiful and they could still call her Tess (kind of like how they call Stephen Paul, Paul). I think this is a little too different from their others, though, and that’s probably why it’s not feeling like the one.
On to new suggestions!
St. Joanna was a follower of Jesus and this name means “Yahweh is gracious.” I love this name for them as it’s a little less “vanilla” but still classic and beautiful. Nickname Jo goes so well with Meg and Paul and is reminiscent of Little Women. Neither name is very popular, making it fresh but not unusual. Bonus, Abby likes St. Gianna and this is just her name in another language!
Meaning “light,” this is a fun, happy, light name for a little girl and a strong, friendly name for a woman. I thought of this name as an alternative to Leah. Nickname Lu is spunky and bright and fits right alongside Meg and Paul. It is fairly popular at #49 (and probably more popular in most Catholic circles). If that bothers them, they might also like Lydia which sits at 96.
Another ultimate classic name that rarely goes out of style. It means “favor” or “grace” and is the name of the mother of Mary. They mentioned so much honoring tied up with the name Anne that I thought maybe they’d consider Anna to give this child a distinctive yet meaningful name. There’s no nickname potential here, though. If that bothers them, maybe they’d like Annalise (or one of its many spellings) nicknamed Anna better. The bonus with Annalise is that it’s a smoosh of Anna and Elizabeth, so they get all of those great meanings and nickname potentials tied up together!
This is the first name that came to mind for them. It’s clunky cool like Margaret and nickname Jo is fun and upbeat. Margaret, Stephen, and Josephine make a classic, sophisticated sibling set and Meg, Paul, and Jo make great playground playmates. I really love this name for them. I think this is another can’t-miss for them.
Leah made me think of this name, too, as it’s similar in style and feel and also doesn’t have an intuitive nickname. There are nicknames Jules and Juliette (it originated as a diminutive of Julia!) but they’re a little clunkier, especially next to fresh and upbeat Meg and Paul. But if the nickname bit doesn’t bother them too much, Meg, Paul, and Julia sound like perfect siblings to me.
There are several saints who bear this name and it’s clunky cool like Margaret. It’s not too popular at #137 but not out there at all. I think that’s their sweet spot. Nicknames are plentiful for this name from the popular and recognizable Alex to the spunky Allie to even Ana! If they want another name with good nickname potential, this one can’t miss.
Classic, sophisticated, friendly, fun, and not overly popular, this is a great, solid name. Margaret, Stephen, and Natalie are a beautiful sibling set and Meg, Paul, and Natalie (or Nat, Natty, or even Lee!) are fun and fresh. With names so classic on their other kids and shortlist, I would be remiss not to mention this beautiful name.
These are my thoughts. What do you think?
I’m back on hiatus from doing consultations (though check back from time to time, as I hope to open up a few spots here and there as I’m able), but Theresa Zoe Williams is available to help you! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)
For help with Marian names, my book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!