Baby name consultation: Five-syllable, not-“harsh” name needed for boy no. 5

Two years ago I had the privilege of doing a consultation for Amanda and her husband, and then announcing the birth of her baby boy, and today I’m thrilled to post this new consultation for her new baby-on-the-way, another boy! This little guy joins lots of big brothers and one big sister:

Oliver Lawrence
Elizabeth Joan
Theodore William
Henry John Vincent
Adrian Leo

I’ve always loved their style, and also the precision with which Amanda and her husband have named their kiddos — each one has a five-syllable first+middle combo! This is something Amanda would love to continue if possible. She writes,

Vince really likes Conrad … I like Rodrick (or Roderick, but does that spelling make it three syllables?), Walter and Gregor. Trying to keep with the 5 syllables with middle name, and I realized after the last one that ALL of the boys have an “R”in their first name, which happens to be my maiden name initial, and I love that, so I’d like to continue it. And he needs his own first letter… O, E, T, H and A are out.

Conrad has still not grown on me. I’m ok with it for a middle name, but it is just too harsh sounding compared to the rest of our names (they all start with a vowel or very soft consonant).

Vince nixed Roderick, and he isn’t crazy about Walter or Gregor. However, he does like Gregory, and then I could always call him Gregor, or Rory. 😉

Sylvester has come back in… If you remember, my grandpa’s name was Sylvester Leo, and we named the last one Adrian Leo after him. Well, he passed away last year (about 8 months after Adrian was born). I asked Vince the other day, if I had no say, what he would name this baby. His answer was Sylvester Conrad. Lol! … He would want to call him Sly… My grandpa went by Slivy… And would want to call him Sully … I love it!

We both like Finnian, which is awesome because it’s so Irish, but it sounds a lot like Adrian to me….. What do you think? Finnian Conrad?

I kind of think there’s still something out there that I haven’t seen or thought of yet. And maybe it won’t come to me until I see his face. We’ll see, I guess!

 

I think they’ve done such a great job of finding fairly uncommon names that are still familiar! I love Rory for Gregory—Amanda and her hubs have some Irish interest in their names, and using this classic Irish name as a nickname for a heavy duty Catholic name is great. Finnian is a great name too—I’m a huge fan of the Finn names, and Finn as a nickname—and I do love Finnian Conrad—so handsome! But it does have the same ending as Adrian, and it doesn’t have an R in it, which Amanda had said was important to her. I wonder what they would think of Finbar instead? Finbar Sylvester works. Another idea I had is Francis with the nickname Finn—I suggested it quite a bit on the here for a while, I just love it—Francis has that same classic, saintly, old-man feel as so many of the names Amanda and her husband like, and it has an R, and Finn as a nickname for it makes it a bit easier to handle on a day-to-day basis.

And of course I came up with a few more ideas for them that I thought might be useful conversation starters for Amanda and her hubby! I started from scratch—I looked up all the names they’ve used and Amanda has mentioned liking (in recent emails and two years ago) in the Baby Name Wizard without looking at the names I suggested last time until after I’d formulated my list of ideas (when I checked I saw I don’t have any overlap between last time’s ideas and this time, interesting!). I then crossed off any names that didn’t have R’s in them (Simon, Sebastian, Bennett), or that sound weird with their last name (Jasper, Victor), or that I’d forgotten they considered previously (Raphael, which I still love for them—perhaps they’d reconsider?), and was left with these:

(1) Brennan
Last time I suggested Brendan and Brannock, but this time Brennan is inspired by Sullivan, which I looked up because of Sully, just to see if there might be any inspiration there. I like Brennan! It’s softer than Brendan, and it has an R in it.

(2) Roman
Roman’s a match for some of the names they considered last time (Ivan, Raphael, and Dominic), it’s got an R in it, and I love it with Sylvester.

(3) Frederick
Frederick’s a match for Conrad and Theodore; it’s long like Theodore, Sylvester, and Elizabeth; it’s got the same ending as Dominic and Aidric from their previous list and it has the cutest nickname options: Fred, Freddy, Fritz, Erick. Frederick Conrad could work, as could Frederick Gregor, Frederick Walter, and Frederick Ivan.

What do you all think? What other name(s) can you suggest for the little brother of Oliver, Elizabeth, Theodore, Henry, and Adrian?

Birth announcement: Brendan Gruene!

I did a private consultation for Anna and her husband two years ago, and received such a great email from her just recently letting me know the handsome name they gave their little guy … Brendan Gruene!

Anna writes,

Hello! I just came across this email while searching for another email and realized I never updated you on our name decision. So I thought, since we are coming upon his second birthday, maybe I should.

We were considering Conor Ignatius, and you had some great suggestions, and then we did a 180 and named him Brendan Gruene (pronounced Green).

I guess not a total 180 since Brendan is another Irish saint, but it was nothing like anything we had been talking about.

Gruene is for the town in Texas where my husband proposed.

My husband suggested Brendan while I was lying on the couch 41 weeks pregnant … the history of Saint Brendan and how he’s the patron saint of explorers and adventurers [got me on board] … I call him B a lot, and Beeg, and my sisters have nicked named him Bean (smashing Brendan and Gruene together and also Green (Gruene) Bean.”

How great is that! I love when an important location for a couple works as a name for their child — Gruene in the middle spot here is just perfect! And Brendan is such a great, strong saintly name.

Congratulations to Anna and her husband and big sister Eleanor Therese, and happy (second) birthday to not-so-Baby Brendan!!

Brendan Gruene with big sister Eleanor Therese when he was born, and more recently 💕

Baby name consultation: Lots of rules for baby no. 7 (fifth girl)!

Anastatia and her husband are expecting their seventh baby — fifth girl! This little one joins big sibs:

Arthur James (“for Mike’s paternal grandfather and my paternal grandfather“)

Conall Henry (“for my maternal grandfather, surname O’Connell, and my paternal grandfather’s middle name“)

Aine Rose Brigid (“for me/my great-grandmother/Mike’s maternal grandmother, Mike loved Rose, and St. Brigid of Kildare, my Confirmation saint“)

Gianna Cara Maria (“called Gigi, twin to Jojo … for St. Gianna, Cara means friend in Irish and dear in Italian, so it flowed, my maternal grandmother’s middle name was Maria“)

Johanna Mary Clare (“called Jojo, twin to Gigi … for my paternal grandmother Joanne, baptized Johanna, our Holy Mother, County Clare/St. Clare — we found out that she didn’t have Edward’s Syndrome on St. Clare’s feast day“)

Abigail Faith Theresa (“with Jesus … Abigail means father’s joy, and Mike really liked the name. When we found out that we were probably losing her, I chose Faith [an Irish trait, at least] and Theresa for St. Therese, for whom I have a devotion, and St. Teresa of Calcutta who was canonized two months before our due date“)

I love these names!! I love all the family connections, and each combination is so attractive, even twins Gianna and Johanna — an amazing pair, with such significance for Anastatia and her hubs!

Anastatia writes,

I have developed a lot of rules about naming, just because I’m a rule person.

1. Not too common- I prefer not in the top 1000s, but certainly not very high
2. A real name, nothing made up.
3. A deceased family member must be honored
4. A saint must be honored
5. At least one name must be Irish/Celtic
6. Girls have two middle names (because we couldn’t agree with the first girl’s middle name)
7. No repeat names — in our family or cousins, etc.

For a boy, we had decided on Bran Michael. Branwen is too out there for Mike. The other feminine of Bran is Branna. It would still honor St. Bran (there is one), and suggest the story of Bran the Blessed, who may have been the Fisher King in Arthurian legend. Branna also continues the -anna name theme for our girls on Earth. I was named for my great-grandmother Anastatia, Aine is often though of as the Irish Anne (it’s not, but the name suggests it, and we have Gianna and Johanna for St. Gianna and my grandmother Joanne, who was baptized Johanna). I’m not sure if Branna is trying to hard. At 38, I am not worried about saving the name for another child.”

Some names that Anastatia has suggested that her husband doesn’t care for include:

Niamh
Rhiannon
Madbh (“last week, Mike said that he might think about this. The Maeve spelling is too common. I prefer Irish spellings, but there may be more than one“)
Zara
Chiara
Beatrice

Names her husband has said that he doesn’t hate include:

Tara (“at 1,002 on the SSA list — this is uncommon enough for me“)
Clara (“at 97, I think it’s common. Our oldest daughter is pushing for this because she likes Clara Oswald from Doctor Who. I am fine with that connection“)
Maisie (“I don’t think this is ‘serious’ enough for a first name“)
Teagan (“a bit common, hard to find a nickname — we both like Tara more“)

The family member they’d like to honor is Anastatia’s maternal grandmother, Eugenia:

We are thinking of Jean as a middle name. She didn’t like Eugenia, and named her kids John, Anne, Mary and Dan so they wouldn’t get picked on.”

And names they can’t use due to family members with the names:

Kateri
Briella
Ryan
Arielle
Devon
Sydney
Sarah
Alicia
Killeen
Brianna
Kim
Jennifer
Emily
Isabella
Sophia
Tenley
Tiffany
Karin
Teresa
Victoria
Christina
Shannon

Saint’s name to be used:

Margaret for St. Margaret of Antioch, patroness of childbirth and St. Margaret of Scotland, patroness against the death of children. Mike does not want to use Margaret as a first name, but may be convinced of a Margaret variant as a first name, otherwise we will use a Margaret name as a middle.”

And a last few considerations:

My family has all Irish heritage (with maybe a bit of Welsh). Mike’s family is originally Basque and Norwegian. He has never shown any interest in using those types of names. Basque names seem hard for non-Spanish speakers like us.

Tara Jean Margaret? I like it, but it’s not love.

Mike is on board with Tara, but is pushing for Clara. I just think Clara is too common, then I would have to use an Irish version of Margaret. Clara Jean Mairead? I don’t know. Any suggestions? Good Margaret variants? Marita is a Norwegian one.

Mike finally will consider Molly, now I think it may be too common. Molly Jean Margaret is Irish, Marian and honors my grandmother and Sts. Margaret, but I’m not sure if Molly can be a ‘serious’ name. Is Molly a doctor, senator, President, etc.?

Gianna is 92 on the social security list and was 95 the year she was born, so I guess Clara being 97 isn’t that bad, but I just don’t love it right now, but I don’t love Tara either. Maeve isn’t too common either, in the 400s at that spelling.

Mike is leaning towards Clara. He also likes Arya, but the character on GOT is not so nice any more.

Arthur has moved from the 300s to the 200s.
Conall is not in the top 1,000.
Aine is not in the top 1,000.
Gianna is 92.
Johanna is in the 500s.
Abigail is 8, but Mike real loved the name Abby.

I guess we are all over the place with name popularity. I never meant to pick popular names, but I am glad that St. Gianna is getting recognized.

The twins each have a Marian middle name, and St. Brigid is called the Mary of the Gael, but I don’t think that we necessarily need another Marian name. He shot down Rosemary and Stella Maris.

Our last name is Ellis. So nothing that ends in ‘L.’ We have multiple ‘A’ names, so probably not another.

Mike was one of several Michaels in every class, so we don’t want that. I have an uncommon spelling, and it made me stick up for myself. Aine does it beautifully.”

Whew! Okay, so first First off, I want to talk about ways to honor Grandma Eugenia. I’m so sorry she didn’t like her name! I had a few thoughts and thought of a few ways they could honor her:

  • Jean would work for Eugenia, but I wonder if they really want another “John” name for one of their daughters?
  • If they don’t mind another John name, another that they might be interested in considering is Siobhan, which would get the Irish in there nicely.
  • Eugene is used as the anglicization of the Irish name Eoghan/Owen, so even though some make the connection between them and John, I think the connection is un-obvious enough that the Owen route might be an interesting way to go. I discovered in my research that Owena is a Welsh feminine form of Owen, which immediately interested me since Anastatia had mentioned Arya from Game of Thrones and Owena reminded me of Olenna. I assumed they rhymed, but when I listened to the pronunciation on Forvo it sounded more like Owen with an A on the end — stress on the first syllable. Anyway, that’s a possibility.
  • The -wen part of Owen reminded me of Wynne, which was actually a style match for my stand-in-for-Bran in my research (Brannock), and the “guin” part of Guinevere, which was a style match for Rhiannon, and which is the same as the “gwen” in the Gwen names — it means “fair, white, blessed” in Welsh. I’ve recently been loving the Welsh name Gwenfair, which means “fair/blessed Mary,” and the Welsh name Mairwen, which is exactly the same as Gwenfair with the elements reversed. How pretty! The fair/Mair part rhymes with “tire” in Welsh, but I think they could rhyme them with “care” if they’d like.
  • Funny enough, Teagan on their list made me think of Taryn, so I looked it up, and it’s the most amazing thing — Behind the Name says it was likely invented as a feminine form of Tyrone, and Tyrone is of course the county in Northern Ireland and also — Tyrone means “land of Eoghan”!!! WOW!!! So Taryn can be for Grandma Eugenia, and it’s similarly in sound to Tara is a bonus! Since it was an invented name, it might not pass Anastatia’s “no invented names” rule, but if it helps there are actually quite a lot of established names that were originally invented (Vanessa, Miranda, Evangeline, Pamela, Wendy … and actually, if you want to be nitpicky, all names were originally invented at one point or another. Not trying to talk Anastatia out of her rules! Just trying to give her options she and her hubs might like). Taryn’s at no. 855 and dropping.

Okay, on to my thoughts on the names on their list:

  • Tara surprised me! I think a lot of people think of it as somewhat dated at this point, but looking at it from its original Irish perspective definitely gives it a fresher feel. Tara Jean Margaret hits all the honors they want, but it feels a bit utilitarian, which I wonder might be the reason Anastatia likes it but don’t love it. Maybe switching up the variants? Tara Margaret Siobhan, for example. Tara Jean Mairead. I wonder if they’d consider a double name? Jane feels a bit fresher, and like Jean is a John variant — what about something like Tara-Jane as a first name? Tara-Jane Mairead is pretty. Tara-Jane Margaret doesn’t flow quite as well to my ear, but still doable of course. Using the Taryn idea above, they wouldn’t have to use Jean, as Taryn would be the honor name for Anastatia’s grandmother, so they could add in another name they like. Taryn Margaret Chiara, Taryn Margaret Madbh (love that), Taryn Margaret Niamh.
  • Clara’s beautiful — clearly they like the -ara names, as they have Tara, Clara, Zara, and Chiara, and even Arya sort of fits into that! I personally would stay away from Clara because they already have Clare in Johanna’s middle name (same with Chiara), but of course it’s not the end of the world if they go with it. Perhaps changing the spelling to Klara could help with popularity? I know it sounds like the same name, but that spelling has never been in the top 1000.
  • Maisie I love, such a sweet name! I too think it works better as a nickname — Margaret nicknamed Maisie seems perfect — I wonder if Anastatia can talk her husband around? Or perhaps Mairead as a first name with the nickname Maisie? Funny enough, since Anastatia said her husband is Norwegian, my mother-in-law was 100% Norwegian, and her mother and her aunt (sisters) were Margaret and Jean (daughters of Norwegian immigrants).
  • Teagan is a cute name, and I could see Tee being a natural nickname, I like it! I wonder, if Teagan isn’t quite right, maybe something like Tierney would feel like a better fit? I know sisters named Tierney and Bryn, and Bryn could work too, being so similar to their Bran/Branna idea.
  • Zara and Beatrice are great
  • I love love love the name Molly! I have a sister and a sister-in-law named Molly, both successful adult women, so in my experience it can definitely work for a doctor/senator/President, but at the same time I do know what Anastatia means when she wonders if it’s serious enough. So my favorite way to deal with this is to use it as it was originally used — as a nickname for Mary, which also has the added benefit of making it much more unusual. My sister and SIL are both given-name Molly, but I know a little Molly whose given name is Maura, and Molly’s her nickname, so that’s a possibility too. A few other possibilities re: Molly are that “Unsinkable Molly Brown”’s given name was actually Margaret. In fact, she wasn’t called Molly during her life, but after her death she became immortalized as Molly after a Broadway musical and movie were made of her life and called her that. So I’ve seen people use Molly as a nickname for Margaret. I’ve also thought it could easily be a nickname for Magdalene and Madeline/Madeleine.

Okay, moving on to Margaret variants: I love Mairead and Greta and even Gretel — it strikes me as really sweet and affectionate, though I know the fairy tale has probably irrevocably tainted it. Margaret means Pearl, so that’s an option; it’s also the word used for the daisy plant in French and Italian (marguerite and margharita, respectively, which are variants I also love for names), which leads to the traditional nickname Daisy for Margaret (like Maisie), and even Daisy’s use as a given name on its own. I saw recently a little one named Martha Daisy and I thought that combo was stunning — the serious of Martha combined with the lightness of Daisy — I love it! Meg and Megan are Margaret variants as well; I also love Margo and Rita; Marit, Mette, and Meta are other Norwegian ones, which are cool. Lots of possibilities!

Alrighty, now for new ideas. I found myself getting hung up on coming up with Irish possibilities, and kept having to remind myself that the first name doesn’t have to be Irish! This is all based mostly on my research in the Baby Name Wizard, which, as you all know, lists names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity for each entry:

(1) Moira, Maura, Mara
I know Anastatia said they don’t necessarily have to have another Marian name for this little girl, but I love them, and these three struck me as good possibilities. I mentioned Maura already; Moira’s also lovely; Mara isn’t Irish but is similar to the Tara/Clara/Zara/Chiara/Arya family of names they have going on. I think each of these could take Molly as a nickname if they wanted it to. Moira hasn’t been in the top 1000 since 1968; Maura hasn’t been since 2006; Mara’s at no. 686 (I’m sure Anastatia would love this birth announcement for a little Niamh, sister of Mara!).

(2) Mila
Mila’s a style match for both Arya and Zara, which I thought was pretty interesting, and it reminded me of a name spotlight I did a while ago on the name Ludmila, because St. Ludmila’s story was so inspiring. I thought that Mila was probably the easiest way to name a baby after St. Ludmila these days, and I even suggested Mila could be an interesting way to honor a grandmother, because of its connection to Ludmila, since St. Ludmila was an amazing and holy grandmother. Mila’s at no. 48, not great, not terrible.

(3) Sosanna or Mariana
These were 100% inspired by the fact that all Anastatia’s daughters on earth either have a connection to Anne/Anna in their names or have “anna” actually in their names. I was trying to think of other names that have a similar connection without being too close to what they’ve already done, and Sosanna was the one that came to mind first — it’s an Irish version that I’ve never seen used and always been intrigued by. Actor Kevin Bacon’s daughter is Sosie Ruth, which is the closest I’ve seen, though she was named after a woman with a non-Irish last name and I can’t find any info on her heritage. But there is an Irish name Sósaidh, which I think would probably be said like Sosie. They could also just do Susanna as well — like Gianna and Johanna, the -anna part isn’t actually related to the name Anne, but of course gives it the appearance of being so. Sosanna’s never been in the top 1000; Susanna’s at 980; Sosie’s never been in the top 1000.

Mariana was another I liked for this family, mostly because it combined Mary with Anne and using the “ana” spelling makes it different from the ending of the twins’ names. I also liked that Marion was listed as a style match for Arthur! I think they could also legitimately use Molly as a nickname for it. Mariana’s at no. 291, very respectable!

(4) Zoe
Zoe was a style match for Zara, and it just struck me as a name they might like, and one that’s easy to work with their rules and their middle name ideas. I think it’s sweet and spunky like Molly and Maisie, and its saintly connection comes from the fact that it was St. Catherine Laboure’s birth name, and there’s also a St. Zoe who was an early martyr. It also means “life” and as a result has been used as a variant of Eve. It’s in the mid-30s, which I know is more popular than Anastatia likes, but after seeing how her other kids’ names rank, I thought it wasn’t terrible (and honestly I was shocked to see it that high — I’ve never known anyone named Zoe in real life!).

(5) Ciara (or Keira)
Finally, Ciara, which is so similar to Clara and Chiara and the Tara/Zara names and it’s Irish — I think it could be great for this family! If they’re worried about pronunciation, Keira’s a fine alternative. Ciara’s at no. 882 and Keira at no. 313.

And those are all my ideas for Anastatia and her hubs! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Arthur, Conall, Aine, Gianna, Johanna, and Abigail?

Names of note on British Baby Names

Happy Monday y’all!! It’s eclipse day! Are your kids as excited as mine?? Since we haven’t been able to snag any of the sold-out eclipse glasses, we’ll probably watch most of it on NASA’s site, but we’re also going to make these eclipse viewers (just waiting for my coffee to brew).

In similarly earth-shaking news, for the first time in a verrrry long time I’m all caught up on consultations and don’t have any scheduled to post! What! So if you’ve been wanting one, now’s a great time!

In lieu of our normal Monday consultation fun, I want to talk about the British Baby Names blog. Are you as hooked on it as I am?? I’ve been keeping it up on my computer all summer and browsing through the birth announcements when I have a few minutes here and there, and there have been so many amazing names that I’ve been keeping a running list to share with you all! Like these amazingly Catholicky Catholic sib sets:

Clemency Jane Frances “Clemmie,” baby sister of Edward Blaise “Ned,” Beatrice Mary “Bea,” Christopher Ambrose Richard “Kit,” Josephine Alice “Posy,” & Mary Assumpta (from this post)

Sebastian Francis Bertram (from this post)

Matilda Agnes, baby sister of Hubert James Raphael, Beatrice Elizabeth, Emilia, Leo John Bartholomew & Helena Adelaide (from this post)

Rufus Benedict, baby brother of Theodora Verity & Harriet Cecily (from this post)

Theresa Eleanor “Tess,” baby sister of Robert John “Bobby” & Francis William “Frankie” (from this post)

I’m fascinated by these Irish and Welsh and names!

Liusaidh Hannah Lesley, baby sister of Ruairidh Joseph Henry & Eilidh Margaret Catriona (from this post)

Gwenlli Fflur, baby sister of Ynyr Alun & Gwern Rhisiart (from this post)

Beca Grug, baby sister of Aron Huw, Erin Gwen & Math Owen (the woman behind the blog, Eleanor, noted that Grug = GREEG “heather”) (from this post)

Nedw Lleu, baby brother of Liwsi Glwys (from this post)

Guto Lloyd & Elen Mair, twin sibs of Awen Mair (from this post)

I liked seeing Evelyn as a boy’s middle (a la Evelyn Waugh): Humphrey Evelyn (from this post).

These were just amazing, for one reason or another:

Henrietta Zillah Iris, baby sister of Xanthippe Phyllis Elizabeth (from this post)

Primrose Ophelia “Posy,” baby sister of Theodora Kate “Teddy” (from this post)

Zinnia Indigo, baby sister of Azalea Primrose (from this post)

Zsa Zsa Hermione Christobel, baby sister of Cressida Lucy Florence, Rocco & Aubrey (twins) (from this post)

Molly Jessica & Pippa Josephine, twin sisters — I love how their first and middles have the same number of syllables, and I love Molly and Pippa together! (from this post)

Tatiana Mary Alexandra, baby sister of Maximillian Randal James, Jemima Honey Frances & Willa Charlotte Moore (from this post)

And speaking of Jemima, beloved of every name lover, I also spotted Jemimas in these posts: here, here.

I really liked the nickname here: John Patrick Carnegy “Jock” (from this post), and was so surprised to see both a Jack and a Johnny in this family: Jack Oliver, baby brother of Johnny Robert, Harry Anthony & Joseph James (from this post). I was also surprised at the number of Montys (two of them here and here) and Jontys (as is, as both a first and middle, here, here, here) — Jonty’s a traditional nickname for Jonathan, and you might remember that I suggested it to Rosie and Tim in this consultation.

I’m barely scratching the surface with all the amazing names listed in the birth announcement posts, and there are also consultation posts too. Such a fun site!

Spotlight on: Kelly

One of you readers emailed me asking about the name Kelly! I haven’t heard anyone consider the name Kelly in a long time, it’s definitely in hibernation until its spring comes again (which it will, as it does for most names).

You know I love doing name research! So off to the dusty shelves I went and did indeed find a saint whose name is sometimes anglicized to Kelly: St. Cellach of Armagh. How cool! Behind the Name concurs that Kelly is a form of, as it spells it, Ceallach, whose meaning is uncertain but could include “bright-headed,” or from Old Irish ceallach “war, strife” or ceall “church.” I love the “church” meaning!

And in fact, that ties into another very cool thing about the name Cellach: there was a Cellach, the Abbott of the monastery at Iona (not the St. Cellach mentioned above), who fled raiding Vikings with his brethren and went to the Abbey of Kells (though “kells” here not having any connection to Cellach), which had been founded by St. Columba a couple hundred years earlier. Kells strikes me as a really easy way to update the name Kelly while retaining its Irishness and adding a shot of faith, no? Kells gave its name to the Book of Kells, the illuminated manuscript by those monks from Iona of the four gospels that has been described as one of Europe’s greatest treasures, and my favorite tidbit about it is that it “presents the earliest Madonna and Child image in any western manuscript” (source).

So I could see a Kelly taking St. Cellach of Armagh as patron, and loving the gospel/Marian/St. Columba connection of the similar-sounding and similarly spelled Kells. This could work for both a boy and girl, and in fact Kelly started as a male name, from the Irish surname. These days Kelly is nearly 100% girl (no. 514 for girls in 2016 as opposed to not at all in the top 1000 for boys), but thinking about St. Cellach and the Abbott Cellach definitely shows Kelly’s initial masculinity. I can also see parents loving Kells as a given name, and that might work better for boys these days.

For girls, names like Callie, Kayley/Keeley/Kiley, Ellie, and Zelie seem to have filled the Kelly spot for current parents, do you agree? But Kelly’s still familiar and fits in easily with those names I think.

What do you all think of Kelly? Do you know any little Kellys? Would you name your daughter Kelly, or have you? What about for a boy? Can you see Kelly working, or do you think Kells is a better option? Or neither?

 

Birth announcement: Niamh Émilie!

Do you remember the spotlight I did recently on Niamh and Naomh? The mama who asked for the spotlight has let me know her little girl has arrived, and has been given the gorgeous combo … Niamh Émilie!

She writes,

Our daughter was born just before midnight on her due date, July 1st (Canada Day, and Canada’s 150th, which was fun as we are Canadian), and we did name her Niamh Émilie as planned. My husband and I both loved the connection you drew between the meaning of Niamh (radiance, brightness) and the feast of the Transfiguration, so we’ve made that (which is today!) her sort of name day. Maybe next year we’ll even get around to celebrating it, but this year we’re still adjusting to the noisy chaos that is three kids under four and didn’t manage anything beyond Sunday Mass as usual.

Several comments on the Niamh post mentioned concerns over the difficult traditional spelling of Niamh, and I agree that will be somewhat annoying for her as she grows, but I have an unusual name myself and it was never that big a deal; plus we just love the name so much, and dislike its phonetic spellings, so Niamh it is. Also, it turns out that Niamh is her uncle and Godfather’s favourite girl name, and what he would have liked to name a daughter of his own. Her whole name written out looks beautiful, as well; we feel it is something she can wear proudly throughout her life. Just at the moment though, she’s going by Niamhlet (pronounced Neavlet) or, as her big brother likes to call her, “Niamh the Beev”.”

Niamh the Beev!! Niamhlet!! SO CUTE!! I’m so thrilled that they went with Niamh after all, and I’m so happy that the Feast of the Transfiguration is her feast day — so cool! Her mama also let me know that Émilie is in honor of Servant of God Fr. Emil Kapaun. Such a beautiful, meaningful pair of names!

Niamh joins big sibs:

George Benedict
Mara Lucie

What wonderful taste!! Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Niamh!!

Niamh Émilie and big sibs George and Mara

Baby name consultation: Help pick the right combo for baby no. 5/boy no. 3!

(I forgot to let you all know that I was going to be away on vacation last week! So sorry for the quietness of the blog! If you follow me on Instagram, you’d have seen that I got to meet and spend a few hours with Colleen from Martin Family Moments — it was so fun! She was so great! We talked and talked about all sorts of things, just like you do with your dear friends, and her hubby and kids hung out with my hubby and kids, and I got to meet two of her sisters, it was all just really familiar and family-like. It’s hard to make that happen when meeting someone for the first time — it’s a rare gift! Thanks again Colleen! 💕😘)

Christie and her husband are expecting their fifth baby — third boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Kolbe David (“After Maximillian Kolbe and David of Wales“)
Isaac Austin (“after a more obscure saint named Isaac of Cordoba with a super cool and relevant story and Augustine of Canterbury“)
Eva Therese (“after Mary the New Eve and Therese of Lisieux“)
Alexis Chiara (“after OL of Perpetual Help – Alexis means help in Greek – and Bl. Chiara Badano“)

Great names, right? I really love all the significance in each one, I love how they’ve incorporated Marian names in unexpected ways, and I love that I’m posting this on the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, one of my very very favorites — happy feast day to Christie’s oldest!!

They have, as Christie put it, “a pretty specific naming schema” for their kiddos, and in fact “already have a list of names to consider, and just need help finding the winning combo” — I’m happy to participate in baby name conversations in any way that might be helpful! And I really love what Christie and her hubs have done so far, and the names on their list. As she explained,

Our kids’ names are like super-infused with meaning, Catholic dork style (and proud of it).”

(Yasssss!!! 👊👏😍)

Our boys are named after a saint we admire and want them to look up to, and another saint who was a first evangelizer of the British Isles that honors their paternal heritage all over that region. Our girls are named after a saint we admire and want them to look up to, and some sort of homage to Mary. We don’t care which name comes first of the two saints, just whatever sounds good.

A few other name preferences:
– We hate nicknames beyond infancy, and don’t want to give our kids names that they will never go by (just ask us: we’re a Christopher and a Christina). Obviously our kids do get nicknamed, but it’s things that won’t stick for forever.
– our last name is Collins, so no Phil, Tom, or other celebrity drinks/people ending in Collins!!! And my husband also threw out Nicholaus because that’s the origin of the last name Collins (I mean… ok, fine, hubs)
– I’m Italian/Cajun/Irish in heritage and we lived in Rome for two years and still study the Italian language and culture as a family. If only Marcellino Collins was, like, even okay-sounding LOL!
– not too obscure of a saint (minimum: must be able to find a holy card or book or something about the guy)

Finally, we want there to be some sort of pilgrimage that makes sense for their saint because our dream is that a high school or college graduation present will be a pilgrimage with just one parent and that child to “their” spot. For Kolbe, that will be Auschwitz, for Isaac it’ll be Cordoba (very southern Spain), for Eva it’ll be Lisieux, and for Alexis, Rome. So far that’s a pretty trans-European experience too.”

I loved reading all of this!! I laughed out loud in several spots, and I also think the pilgrimage idea is so cool.

Continuing,

For the heritage name: we’ve scoured all the early evangelizer saints and let’s be honest…we’re not naming a kid Cunegard or anything without vowels (or entirely composed of them), so it’s a bit restrictive. Here are the remotely good ones.

Aaron
Patrick
Aidan
Finnian
Andrew
Brendan
Kieran
Declan

For the saints-we-look-up-to name, there are lots. Some were tossed out because they were too out there for my husband (Ephrem, Cyril, Cyprian, Fulton). I’ve researched other ways to name a kid after each of them and I’ll include that info.

Augustine (Augustine, but we already used Austin…)
John the Apostle (John)
Gregory the Great (Gregory, Magnus)
Peter Damien (Peter, Damien)
John Paul (born Karol Jozef, Karol means Carl and Charles: John, Paul, Karol, Carl, Charles, Jozef, Joseph)
Ambrose (Gio and Giotto are Italian diminutives/derivatives: Ambrose, Gio, Giotto)
Benedict (established monastery at Monte Cassino: Benedict, Bennett, Monte)
Leo the Great (Leo, Magnus)
Bonaventure (born Giovanni, and he’s the Seraphic Doctor, if there’s anything there, Bonaventure)
Phillip Neri (darn you, Phil Collins, for being famous!: Neri?)
John Bosco (born Melchiorre, Forrest for a play on words – bosco = woods/forest, Bosco, John)
Thomas More (Thomas)
John Chrysostom (John)
Dominic (middle name was Felix after his father: Dominic, Felix)
Francis of Assisi (Francis)
Damien of Molokai (born Jozef: Damien, Jozef))
Francis de Sales (born Francis Bonaventura: Francis)
Peter Julian Eymard (Peter, Julian mayybbeeeee)
Louis Martin (we don’t like Louis, but maybe Martin)
Nathaniel (Nathaniel, Nathan)

Other names we like okay that are also saints:
Blaise
Basil
Luke/Lucas
Jude
Sebastian
Pio
Owen (St. Nicholas Owen)
Oliver

I love how Christie’s mind works! I loved reading all her ideas for naming after saints without using the exact name (who knew Gio and Giotto were Italian variants of Ambrose? So cool!).

I admit that at first I wasn’t sure what I could contribute, since Christie and her hubs have all their names pretty much figured out. But I did have some thoughts, both about the names they already have on their list, and even some new ideas that I think fit in well enough that they won’t hate them.

First off, I totally wouldn’t cross Italian names off their list just because they don’t have an Italian last name! Christie has Italian heritage, and as she said they lived in Rome and still study the language and culture as a family — to me, it would be kind of weird to not include Italian names in their considerations! Christie’s concern about it clashing with their last name reminded me of this post from Swistle, which discussed what her reader called the “Juan Pablo Jones problem,” and which I thought was spot-on. I especially like this bit:

I think it’s unnecessary for [your husband] to bring cultural appropriation into it when what you’re discussing is using names FROM YOUR OWN CULTURES. It sounds as if his concern is that other people will THINK it’s cultural appropriation: that is, if someone didn’t realize your cultural background, they might think you shouldn’t have used the name. I am generally on the side of worrying what other people think and of taking into account the society we live in (I don’t want to give a child a name that will make people think badly of her or of us), but this doesn’t seem like an issue here. First/last-name incompatibility could happen any time the parents didn’t come from the same cultural background, or any time a surname gets married out of usage. It seems like even (or especially) people hyper-aware of cultural appropriation issues would also be aware that the current particular surname doesn’t tell the story of the family background.”

So I’d say, use Marcellino with joy!

Secondly, working with the names they already have on their list, I felt like Finnian and Kieran from their British Isles list seemed like they’d fit well as first names with the other kids. I was also really struck by how many holy Johns they love, and if it were me, I would definitely take that as a sign that John is a slam dunk as a first name. I’ve also always loved that John goes in front of most any name for boys in a similar way as Mary for girls — I think a John ___ could easily go by John or a nickname of John, or the fn+mn as a double name (like John Paul), or the middle name, just like those girls with Mary ___ as a given name have traditionally found Mary, fn+mn, or just the middle name as options available to them that generally don’t raise eyebrows. I know I’ve said this a million times, but most of my dad’s first cousins who are women, as well as one of his sisters and his mom, are all Mary ___, and most of them go by their middle names in real life (signing their names as just their middles, or sometimes M. Middle), or by both Mary and the middle. And John is just the same in my opinion. Perhaps it doesn’t have the long history of use in that regard like Mary does, so maybe others might raise their eyebrows at a John ___ that goes by a double name or his middle name or whatever, but to me it’s an awesome option. I posted a huge John+ consultation post here, which might have some helpful info.

So I love the idea of John Aaron, John Patrick, John Aidan, John Finnian, John Andrew, John Brendan, John Kieran, and John Declan. I think they all sound just amazingly handsome and masculine but not overly macho or anything, just really nice combos. If it were me, I’d be tempted to call them by the double names because I’m so enamored of the John+ doubles! But even if he just went by John, I think they’d be pleased because John is an easy name to use and enforce that no nicknames are to be used. It’s great and solid for a man and increasingly unexpected on a little boy.

I also love the idea of going by the middle names, which I think might be more their style anyway, based on the names they’ve already used for their older kids — Kolbe, Isaac, Eva, and Alexis don’t have the feel that a family that would choose John for a son would traditionally have, I think. So doing something unexpected with a little John’s name would be more expected in a family that uses a saint’s last name as a first, for example.

But even though I think John makes so much sense, because it honors all the Sts. John they love (and even St. Bonaventure, with Giovanni as his birth name), it does make choosing the patron saint and pilgrimage place difficult — which John would they focus on? Of course they could solve that by using the middle name as the patron and place, which is probably what I would recommend, especially since they don’t have any British Isles pilgrimage places represented yet among their kiddos.

So after swooning over all the John+ possibilities, my attention shifted to Leo, because when I did my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard (which lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity), I was really struck by what a good fit Leo is for this family based on the names Christie and her hubs have already chosen and those they like/are considering: In general, there wasn’t any real overlap among the names that were listed as similar to the names they’ve chosen, BUT Leo was listed as a style match for Eva as well as Oliver, Julian, Jude, Sebastian, and Felix — I thought that was pretty significant! I loved the combos Leo Patrick, Leo Finnian, Leo Brendan, Leo Kieran, and Leo Declan, and I didn’t know if they’d be interested in going full Irish, but if so I also love Leo Padraig (a combo I had on my list for a while). They could of course use the middle name to choose the pilgrimage spot, but I looked up St. Leo the Great and his Wiki entry said he was born in Tuscany, which is an amazing place to visit, but not sure *where* in Tuscany they’d go? He’s buried in Rome, but they already have Rome on the list for Alexis … A cool tidbit is that he played an important role in the Council of Chalcedon, and Chalcedon is in Turkey today, so that would be a good option I think.

Looking more through the list of saints they love, I was struck by these things/had these thoughts that might be helpful:

  • I agree about not using Augustine since they already used Austin (which you all probably know is a variant of Augustine)
  • I love that Gio and Giotto are Italian variants of Ambrose, how cool!
  • Love Monte as a nod to St. Benedict!
  • Seraphim is used as a masculine name, which could make a cool middle name as a nod to St. Bonaventure
  • We considered the full Philip Neri as a fn+mn and I really wanted to use Finn as the nickname! If Christie and her hubs didn’t hate nicknames, this could get around the Phil Collins issue, but as it is, I agree with them—no Philip! Neri would be interesting … I also wonder if they would consider Finnian to be a double nod to St. Finnian and St. Philip Neri because of the Finn thing I just mentioned? Or maybe they’re hating my idea of trying to double up saints in one name!! Haha! No worries if so, I never get offended about differences of opinion in naming! And I’m certainly under no illusion that I have all the right answers
  • I love Melchiorre/Melchior for St. John Bosco! I love the idea of naming for the Three Wise Men anyway, and knowing that it also is part of St. Bosco’s name is so cool! It also reminded me of Malachy—I don’t know if St. Malachy fits the criteria they’re using to define “early British Isles evangelizer,” but he was the first native-born Irishman to be canonized, which is pretty cool
  • I wonder if they would be interested in Morey for Thomas More? This family named their son Thomas More and call him Morey, which is also a nod to Great Grandpa Maury (genius!), but I think Morey is a great name on its own and fine as a nod to Thomas More
  • I’ve never seen Felix considered for St. Dominic, very cool!
  • St. Francis of Assisi and St. Francis de Sales, being both on their list, would make me want to use Francis as a nod to them both …
  • St. Francis de Sales has such great connections for this family—not only was Bonaventura his middle name, which could also nod to St. Bonaventure, but St. John Bosco was of course a devotee of St. Francis de Sales … again, I’m a fan of trying to tie together connections and honor lots of different people with one name, so I would find this all very inspiring—a way of checking several saints off their list of favorites with one child’s name. I’m not sure what name I would recommend though?
  • I thought of Christie on St. Peter Julian Eymard’s recent feast day; I discussed Julian a bit in my last consultation, which might be helpful?
  • I like Martin a lot, I always wonder why more people aren’t using it!
  • Love Nathaniel
  • I love Pio as a middle name! Ana at Time Flies When You’re Having Babies has a Joseph Pio, which I’ve always thought was an amazing combo
  • I would love to see them move Owen and Oliver from their “so-so” list to their “favorites” list! Oliver’s a style match for Eva, Leo, Julian, Jude, Sebastian, and Felix, and I know an Isaac who has a brother Oliver! I love St. Oliver Plunket. I also know an Isaac with a brother Owen (and a sister Olivia!), and St. Nicholas Owen is amazing!

One final thought I had was regarding an honor name for John Paul — I’ve seen Lolek considered a time or two as a first name, and we even discussed it as a possible “nickname” for Luke! So maybe Christie and her hubs would like to consider it as well? They seem to like the hard K sound (Kolbe, Isaac, Alexis, Chiara, and per their list Patrick, Kieran, Declan, Carl/Karol, Dominic, Felix, Luke/Lucas), and Lolek really does feel like an unexpected Luke.

And those are all my thoughts and ideas for Christie’s littlest guy! What do you all think? Based on all this, what name(s) and/or combo(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Kolbe, Isaac, Eva, and Alexis?