A couple Irishy things

I was just reading through some old posts and came upon this one from two years ago — I thought you all might be interested in seeing it again, I love learning things like this! ☘

Sancta Nomina

I watched this video the other day and just died: Americans Try to Pronounce Traditional Irish Names. So true, so funny.

And I meant to post this on St. Paddy’s Day and forgot: Selected entries from “Some Common Words Derived From Christian Names” (in Withycombe):

Biddy: nickname for an Irish-woman, from the prevalence of the name Brigid in Ireland; hence old biddy, an old woman. Also used for calling chickens.

mick(e)y: temper, possibly, like Paddy, from the supposed short temper of the Irish, with whom this is a common name.

Paddy: nickname for Irishman (cf. Biddy).

paddy(whack): a rage, fit of temper. (From the supposed irascibility of the Irish.)

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!! ☘☘☘ And Irish place names

Haaaaaappy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!! This is one of my very favorite days of the year!! 😁☘😁☘

Before I get into today’s post, a couple fun things to mention:

First, my mom (whose dad was born in Ireland and who is herself an Irish citizen) has written a book for families about a wee little God-loving leprechaun named Finney, which I can’t recommend enough — my boys love hearing me read it to them out loud (it’s all in rhyme, which makes for fun reading and fun listening). Additionally, Mom’s daily Instagram posts with Finney are sweet and wholesome, and she has a year’s worth of posts about Finney and Irish-y info on her web site. Be sure to check them out! Also, Finney has a little house of his very own on my parents’ front yard, which all the local children looooove (especially my boys!).

Secondly, I had the great privilege of having been named to the forty “Best Baby Name Blogs on the planet“! All my favorite name sites are on the list, so I’m feeling pretty cool that I was included! 😎

Thirdly, my post for today! I was looking at a map of Ireland yesterday and it got me to thinking about how many place names in Ireland would make (or do make, if they’re already in use) smashing first names for an Irish-loving family. Some of these I’ve never seen used — let me know if you’ve seen them! Or any of the others on this list, or any that you love that I didn’t include!

Girls

Adare: Adare, Co. Limerick is “renowned as one of Ireland’s prettiest towns.” The existing given name Adair is a traditional boy name, a variant of Edgar, but I think these days its sound and rhythm fit more into girl-name territory. (Do you agree?)

Clare and Clara: There’s Co. Clare and the town of Clara in Co. Offaly. Pretty cool to have the name of a saint AND the name of an Irish locale all tied up together!

Glin: Another Co. Limerick town, Glin sounds just like the name Glynn and is similar to Glenn and has a whiff of Gwen as well.

Laragh, Nenagh: Laragh is a town in Co. Wicklow, said just like Lara, but that silent Irishy Irish “gh” on the end gives it a nice green sheen. Similarly, Nenagh — a town in Co. Tipperary — has a familiar pronunciation (just like Nina) and an Irish spelling.

Livia: Though not a place name in that form, Livia, which has a separate life as an old Roman name (the name of the wife of the Roman emperor Augustus), has also been used in art and literature as the personification of the River Liffey in Dublin (especially in the combo Anna Livia, which was high on my list of names for girls early in my motherhood — isn’t it gorgeous??).

Shannon: Perhaps the most well-known Irish place name, Shannon is, of course, after the River Shannon.

Tralee: Tralee is a town in Co. Kerry where the hugely popular Rose of Tralee festival is held every year. I could see it being a great given name, but this is one that I’m the iffiest on — what do you think? If not, but you wanted to name your child after Tralee, there’s Rose for the girls and Denny Street and the Brandon Hotel for the boys.

Tulla: This Co. Clare town is said TULL-ah, I think. Or maybe TOO-la? Like Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral? Does anyone know? (TOO-la is like Toula on My Big Fat Greek Wedding.)

Boys

Callan, Collon: Callan is a Co. Kilkenny town and Collon is a town in Co. Louth, and both very similar (or, in Callan’s case, exactly like) existing names.

Cashel: I’ve mentioned Cashel as a name idea before, and it’s one of the only names on these lists that has a faith connection — the Rock of Cashel was “the traditional seat of the kings of Munster for several hundred years prior to the Norman invasion” and it’s “reputed to be the site of the conversion of the King of Munster by St. Patrick in the 5th century.” So great! And that nickname Cash!

Cavan: Cavan is the name of a county in Ireland, and it’s also an existing given name.

Clane: Clane, Co. Kildare sounds like a mash-up of existing names Clay and Kane. Could be cool?

Ennis: Though Ennis is a town in Co. Clare, I wonder if it’s even more well known as the name of Bill Cosby’s son, who was killed in a failed robbery attempt?

Knock: This is another explicitly faith-y name, for Our Lady’s apparition at Knock, Co. Mayo (known in Irish as Cnoc Mhuire, “Hill of (the Virgin) Mary”), but I’m not totally sure it works as a given name– what do you think? Maybe better as a middle? Reader Amy, from Our Family Fiat, had this awesome idea, which she posted in a comment on one of my IG pics: “a friend loved the name “knox” but wanted a patron so I suggested “our Lady of Knock”” — how cool is that?

Ross: There are a few inspirations for including Ross on this list — there’s New Ross and Rosslare (Strand), both towns in Co. Wexford, and Rosses Point, Co. Sligo.

Slane: Similar in sound to Clane (above) and Shane, Slane is a town in Co. Meath, and Slane Castle is an amazing venue for weddings and concerts for some pretty big names (U2, Madonna, nbd), which gives it a rock-and-roll edge (if you like that kind of thing).

Unisex

Ardee: Ardee, Co. Louth makes me think “boy” because of its similarity to “Artie,” but “girl” because of the “ee” ending.

Athenry: This might be *too* place-namey? But I love the soft sound, which strikes me as feminine, while Athan is an existing boy’s name (and so similar to Ethan as well).

Carrick: Carrick-on-Shannon is a town in Co. Leitrim — I could see it working well for either a boy or a girl.

Kells: Though Kells is a town in Co. Meath, I think the Book of Kells would be the first thing people would think of, which gives it a nice faithy significance.

Quin: Certainly Quinn is a common enough given name for both boys and girls, but Quin (that spelling) is also a town in Co. Clare.

What do you think of these names? Are there any that you love, or any that you think are totally awful as given-name ideas? Are there any you would add to the list?

I hope you all have a wonderful wonderful St. Patrick’s Day! And for a laugh, don’t forget to check out the video in this post from last year. 🤣☘🤣☘🤣☘

New Nameberry post up!

A piece I wrote for Nameberry posted earlier this week, with a new angle on the topic of name regret: Baby Name Remorse: Helping Your Children Love Their Names (Avoiding name regret, junior version).

I’m sure many (most?) of us would be upset if any of our children decided they didn’t like the names so lovingly and carefully chosen for them, so I wanted to come up with some strategies that might help avoid that. I’d love to know what you think of my ideas! If any of you have experiences with this — not liking the name your parents gave you, or if your kids have let you know they don’t like their names — I’d love to hear that too!

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March CatholicMom article up today! ☘

Last year on the Eve of St. Patrick (tomorrow) I gave a talk at a dinner for a local Irish Catholic women’s group called the Daughters of St. Patrick on the topic of the history of the name of Mary in Ireland, which I drew from for my March column at CatholicMom, which posted today! Check it out: Our Lady, Queen of Ireland.

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That image is from the Book of Kells and is the earliest existing example of a Madonna and Child image in a Western manuscript — the Irish have long loved Our Lady!

As I say at the end of the article, I’d love to hear any stories you have of the use of the name Mary (girl or boy) in your families if you’re of Irish descent—and even if you’re not! So many of you have shared such stories in the past, and I love them all!

Spotlight on: Klaus

A reader is considering the name Klaus for her baby-on-the-way and asked me if I’d get your feedback on it. What an unexpected name!

Klaus is a German short form of Nicholas (and so can take any of the Sts. Nicholas as patron) and is said “klows,” which can be problematic for anyone who doesn’t know that — it might be annoying to have to correct people on a regular basis (though not a deal breaker imo), and said “klaws” would bring Santa to mind right away. But is that really a big deal? It strikes me as such a distinguished name and in fact, one of the comments on the entry for the name at Behind the Name said, “it has a sophisticated brevity.” I love that! Another commenter mentioned the Austrian actor Klaus Maria Brandauer — you guys! Klaus Maria!!! 😍😍😍 So I had to dig a little deeper and I’m fascinated by this: Klaus Maria Brandauer was born Klaus Georg Steng but replaced his middle and last names with his mom’s first and maiden names — Maria Brandauer — to create his professional name. I love that so much!! What a guy!! And not really any different from a man taking a Mary name as his own (religious name, Confirmation name), no?

Klaus is such a short name that it doesn’t really need a nickname (though I did see in its entry on Namipedia the nickname Klausie, which could be cute), but it’s also got some baggage (pronunciation, Santa) that could be managed with an easier nickname. I think Nick/Nicky/Niko/Nico could work, as a nod to its Nicholas connection. Or perhaps KC, if the middle was a C name, like Klaus Christopher (I had a friend in college named Keith Christopher who went by KC). Or Kip if the middle had a P in it (Klaus Patrick), or Kit if the middle had a T (like GoT actor Kit Harington, whose given name is Christopher — Kit is a traditional nickname for Christopher, which makes an extra nice argument for Klaus Christopher nicknamed Kit). Or Kam, for something like Klaus Abraham/Amadeus or Klaus Matthew/Matthias — Kam fits in easily with the Cameron/Cam crowd.

What do you all think of Klaus? Do you know anyone named Klaus? Does he like his name? Does he go by a nickname?

 

Baby name consultation: Boy no. 3/baby no. 4 needs great first name with friendly nickname

Kim and her husband are expecting their fourth baby and third boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Charles Patrick (Charlie)
Peter Augustine (Pete)
Magdalene Lucy (Maggie)

What a great set! I absolutely love how sophisticated each full first name is, and how friendly all the nicknames are!

Kim writes,

I love Henry and the cheerful ring of it, but that name is out for my husband. The following names have already been used in our family: Francis, James, John, Andrew, Thomas, Joseph, Dominic, Stephen, Matthew, Patrick, Nicholas, Anthony, Samuel … [also] we have the Baby Name Wizard and don’t like any of the sibling suggestions for the kids’ names.”

So you all had to know how excited I got to see that Kim and her hubs had already looked through the Baby Name Wizard — my go-to when starting a consultation, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity — and didn’t like any of the ideas! The more challenging the name challenge, the more fun I have with it!

I also want to say that I really love the combo Magdalene Lucy … Lucy’s so unexpected to me in the middle spot, and it just flows really really well with Magdalene. Lovely! (Their boys’ names are great too! Magdalene Lucy just particularly struck me.)

So I took a couple of different routes when coming up with ideas for this baby boy. I actually did start with the BNW, as usual, in order to see what names Kim and her hubs don’t care for, and also to do some extended research, by which I mean I started looking up names that I thought felt like their style, and then looking up their style matches, etc. I also used Nymbler and the Name Matchmaker on the babynamewizard site, plugging in both their kiddos’ full names and nicknames, as well as looking at matches for just the boys’ names and for the sib set as a whole. There were definitely a few names that kept popping up over and over again, in all the different sites/sources I used, two of which were also listed as style matches for their kids’ names in the BNW (i.e., names Kim and her hubs don’t like), but I included them below anyway—sometimes a discussion about a name can sway parents one way or another. It’s worth a try!

I also gave good weight to names with “friendly” nicknames — when Kim said she loves the “cheerful” feel of Henry, I think it’s similar to the vibe I get from the nicknames of her kids. I definitely think of Charlie, Pete, and Maggie as having a real friendliness to them, and I thought it revealed the kinds of names Kim and her hubs would gravitate toward.

Okay, without further ado, here are my ideas:

(1) Long and heavy hitting, like Augustine and Magdalene
I had so many ideas that I decided to group them into categories! I was struck by Peter’s middle name Augustine and Maggie’s full name Magdalene—I often see those names pop up in lists by families who love longer, heavy-hitting names (“heavy hitting”=catacombs + incense kinds of names), and I wondered if that might be a category Kim and her hubs would like to consider for their next baby. In particular, I thought of:

  • Sebastian—Sebastian’s actually a style match for Dominic, which is on Kim’s list of names they can’t use. But Dominic also goes along with the heavy-hitting feel of Augustine and Magdalene, so I was interested in its style matches, and Sebastian struck me as a good possibility. There are some really cute nickname possibilities: Seb and Sebbie are pretty traditional, and Bash is one I only heard of a few years ago (Grace Patton has a Sebastian nn Bash) and fell in love with. I’ve also heard Bas/Baz and even Ian!
  • Theodore—Theodore’s one of those names that kept showing up over and over in my research. According to the BNW it’s a style match for August (since the BNW doesn’t have an entry for Augustine, I’ve had pretty good luck with substituting August in the past), and the Name Matchmaker offered it as a match for all Kim’s kids’ names. The nicknames Ted/Teddy and Theo struck me as really great matches for Charlie, Pete, and Maggie.
  • Nathaniel—Nathaniel has that really biblical feel of Magdalene, and it’s also the name of one of the Twelve Apostles, so it’s really saintly as well. But what really sold me is the nickname: Nate is a great, friendly nickname, similar in my mind to Charlie, Pete, and Maggie.
  • Benedict—Ben is also a nickname that I think this family might like, based on the feel of Charlie, Pete, and Maggie, as well as Lucy and Henry. Benedict is a great way to get to it if they wanted to channel the “long and heavy hitting” vibe of Augustine and Magdalene.

(2) Long and normal-ish
Augustine and Magdalene definitely have a different feel to me than Charles, Peter, Lucy, and Henry, though of course they do all go together by virtue of their saintliness, which is one of the things I love about Catholic naming. If this family didn’t want to go 100% the Augustine/Magdalene route for this little boy, a sort of compromise option might be a name that’s longer, like A and M, but not as weighty, if that makes any sense. In that vein, I thought of:

  • Alexander—Sebastian had a few style matches that I thought were swirling around the right area, like Nathaniel (suggested above) and also Alexander. Charles, Peter, and Alexander have a really royal feel to them, as brothers, and Alexander has loads of fun nickname options, like Xander/Zander/Xan/Zan, Sandy, Sander, and of course Alex. Given that their other kids go by Charlie, Pete, and Maggie, I’m guessing Alex is probably mostly their speed, though I think Sandy would fit in really well—a friend of mine named her son Sandy, which surprised me so much at first, but the more I’ve thought about it over the years, the more it’s grown up me. Certainly it used to be used a lot more for boys and I’d love to see it come back again.
  • Benjamin—I listed Benedict above, as it has that monastery feel of Dominic and Augustine, but Benjamin comes across as a bit friendlier I’d say. And again, I’d say Ben is a great fit for this family, and I also love Benny and Benji.
  • William—William is absolutely a name I would have thought was spot-on for this little boy! When I saw it listed as a style match for Charles I thought Nooooo! I’m so worried that means Kim and her hubs don’t like it! But I’m just going ahead and listing it here anyway! I think William is such a great match as a brother to Charles and Peter, and the nickname Will seems perfect as a brother to Charlie, Peter, and Maggie, and a great match for the feel of Henry as well.

(3) Middling
Despite the fact that Augustine and Magdalene are so long, two-thirds of Kim’s kids’ first names as well as her favorite name for this little boy (Henry) are actually much shorter, so it would be silly to not include some names like that. A few rose to the top for me, including:

  • Oliver—I’m guessing they hate Oliver, since they surely saw it listed in the BNW as a match for Lucy and Henry, but in the off chance that they might come around, I had to include it! Oliver is such a great name, and St. Oliver Plunkett such a great saint. I also love the nickname Ollie—it has that same friendly feel to me as Charlie, Pete, and Maggie.
  • Bennett—Each of my categories here has contained a formal name for the nickname Ben! I really do love Ben for this family, and Bennet(t) is yet another name that they might like. It’s a medieval variant of Benedict, which gives it great saintliness, and it has long use as a last name (a la the Bennet sisters in Pride & Prejudice).
  • Martin—Martin was strongly recommended by the Name Matchmaker as a good match for all their kids’ names as a set. I love Martin as a brother to Charles and Peter, and I love Marty as a brother to Charlie, Pete, and Maggie.
  • Nathan—I suggested Nathaniel in the first category, and I want to include Nathan here — they’re both driven by the nickname Nate, which I love with the other kids, and Nathan’s biblical too.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for Charlie, Pete, and Maggie’s little brother, remembering that they have Augustine and Magdalene in the mix as well?

Birth announcement: Milo Thomas!

I posted a consultation for Carrie and her husband back in January, and Carrie’s let me know her little guy has arrived and been given the swoony name … Milo Thomas!

She writes,

Hello Kate! You did a consult for us in January for baby boy #3, and he was born yesterday!  We actually ended up waiting until he was born to make the final name decision. Up until birth we were fairly sure we were going with Hugo Thomas, and had a couple other names we also liked just in case. Well, when we met him, we decided he just wasn’t a Hugo, and went with Milo Thomas instead! I am a little sad to not have used Hugo because it’s a great name that I love, but this baby is a Milo for sure 🙂

Thank you (and all who commented on my consult!) for all your help!!

I LOVE the name Milo!! I absolutely think it fulfills Carrie’s hope for an “artistic and worldly” name, and as for saintly connections — you all know how I go on and on about Miles’ Marian connection, and Milo shares it too! Congrats to worriedshoe who suggested Milo in the comments!

This little guy joins his handsomely named big brothers:

Owen Joseph
Julian Elias

A simply fantastic trio of brothers!

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Milo!!

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Milo Thomas