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. 🤣☘🤣☘🤣☘

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?

 

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!!

image1 (17)

Milo Thomas

Birth announcement: Jacob Miles!

Do you remember Kelli’s consultation from last week? She sent me all the birth+naming details! Her little man’s been given the amazing and meaningful name … Jacob Miles!

Kelli writes,

Just wanted to drop you an email and introduce our newest little guy, and to thank you for the name consultation and wonderful comments and ideas! It gave us a lot to think about and really helped us narrow things down.

By the time we got to the hospital we were fairly certain about Jacob, but still not sure about a middle name. What was supposed to be a fast and easy labor, turned into the most difficult one I have ever had. By the time Jacob was born, we had friends, family, church family, priests, and nuns praying the Divine Mercy chaplet for him. He entered the world to my husband praying the chaplet over us in the delivery room. After learning about the name Miles, which you had suggested, and its connections to Mary and the Slavonic root word for Merciful, we knew we had to honor all those prayers by giving him this name.

He gave us a bit of a scare in the hospital. He had dangerously low blood sugar and ended up in the NICU, but thanks to a wonderful doctor and a fantastic nurse we were able to come home earlier today with a happy and healthy new one.

The entire family is thrilled and I am so glad we did the consult and discovered more about this name. It seems meant to be!

What an amazing story!! I didn’t know of the connection between Miles and mercy when I suggested it, but how amazing that it ended up being just the name for this little boy and his particular circumstances! I also love that they ended up going with Jacob for a first name, which, if you remember, was the name their son Will was “desperate” to use — Jacob Miles is just the perfect name all around! It’s such a nice feeling to know the name chosen feels “meant to be.”

Congratulations to Kelli and her husband and big sibs Abby, Will, Aaron, and Jessa, and happy birthday Baby Jacob!!

Jacob Miles

Baby name consultation: Artistic, worldly, saintly names a plus for the third of three brothers

Carrie and her husband are expecting their third baby — a third boy! This little guy joins big brothers:

Owen Joseph
Julian Elias

I.Love.Those.Names! So sophisticated and handsome!

Carrie writes,

I love thinking and talking about baby names while my husband absolutely does not, and I desperately need some input! Hubby has actually said that he doesn’t think choosing baby names is that big of a deal, and that names in general aren’t that important (what!!!).”

What!!! 😲

We named our first son, Owen, after I made a list of my 5 favorite names, gave it to him, and he pointed to one and said “this one.” Our second son was basically named solely by me – Julian was my favorite name by far, and after a while I told my husband that I was going to just start considering the baby to be Julian unless he provided another suggestion. He never did, so Julian it was! The only real name suggestion my husband has given has been along the lines of “what about something like Bob?” Meaning – he thinks most of the names I like are too unusual for him.”

Um. He and my husband sound like brothers separated at birth.

So like I said, we currently have Owen Joseph and Julian Elias. Owen was actually born on the feast day of a St. Owen, which I did not realize until earlier this year. Owen is also a family name on my husband’s side. His middle name, Joseph, is after my dad and we consider St. Joseph to be his patron saint. I liked the name Julian for several reasons – I like the softer sound of it, and I think it sounds artistic and worldly. We do call him Jules a lot at home. We went back and forth about a family middle name for Julian but in the end nothing sounded right and we went with Elias (in part to give him cool initials [their last name begins with a T] – don’t judge! We were that desperate!) Julian’s birthday is in February which is also the month that St. Julian’s feast day is in. So I kind of like that both boys so far have birthdays in the same month as their saint’s feast day. (But not a requirement!)

… boy names are very challenging, since aside from Julian I had a hard time coming up with names I liked and could actually see us using the last time around. I am not sure how we will be able to name a third boy! When I try to think about boy names I like that are viable options, I come up with blanks. Nothing seems usable for us! I have even tried the Baby Name Wizard trick where I look at our current names or names I like and see if any of the brother names are possibilities, but so far that hasn’t helped me much. So as you can see, I feel that I need some fresh eyes on our boy naming situation.”

Honest to goodness, sometimes fresh eyes are all that are needed! It can be so helpful to just bounce ideas off of someone else.

Names they’ve considered that Carrie likes but aren’t sold on, or have been vetoed by her husband include:

Ames
Ansel
August
Arthur
Conrad
Dominic
Ezra
Felix
Frederick
Harry/Harris
Miles
Solomon

I have always like the name Blaise and feel connected to St. Blaise as my grandmother’s birthday was on St. Blaise day and I always loved the story behind the blessing of the throats, but not sure if its too “out there” for us. I also have always liked Silas but my husband has said it sounds evil (I think because the villain in the book the Da Vinci code was named Silas).

Middle name possibilities so far are Thomas (my husband’s confirmation name, he just converted to Catholicism at Easter), Henry after my grandfather (but could not use as a first because I have a cousin with that name already), or perhaps Blaise in the middle spot.”

Names that Carrie likes but they can’t use include:

Leo
Theo/Theodore
James
Asher
Leland
most names ending in T (Elliot) as our last name is very T heavy
Francis/Frank
Samuel
Ben
Jude (“it can be a nickname for Julian and its also just too close“)
Xavier

Girl names they like, for inspiration:

Isla
Beatrice
Vivian
Ada
Willa

Finally,

Aside from no names that end with T’s, and including a saint’s name in either first or middle spot, the only other rules I have is no top 20 names and no strong Irish names (I know Irish names are currently very popular) as my family has very strong German roots and it would just feel weird to me. I don’t mind repeating initials, and although I prefer 3 syllables or less I am open to a longer name.”

So first off, I think it’s amazing that Carrie’s successfully named two little boys with little help from her hubby—that would be some moms’ dream come true! But I totally get why it’s frustrating.

Second, I was really interested in trying to fit with the connection with Owen and Julian’s feast days both falling in the month they were born—I kept that in mind as I looked for ideas for this baby (due in early March, so I looked quickly through the feast days on CatholicSaints.info for both February and March).

Carrie and her hubs have a great list of names I think! I think Blaise is an awesome option—Feb feast day, great name, great saint, and Carrie has a connection to him as well! I personally don’t think it’s too out there for them, but of course they need to be comfortable with the name they choose.

As for Silas, if her husband can’t shake the negative association, I wonder what they’d think of Cyrus? It has a totally different feel to me; they could still use the sound-alike nickname Cy; and it’s a saint’s name. Or Cyril? There are several, with feast days Feb. 14 and March 18, 20, and 28.

Even though she said she’s already looked through the Baby Name Wizard, I did so as well, looking up the names she and her husband have used and those they like, as you know it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Based on that, and some ideas of my own, these are my ideas:

(1) Gabriel
I love when I see what seems to be a preference by parents for a certain sound—like, in this case, vowel couplets (Julian, Elias, Blaise, Leo, Theo/Theodore, Xavier). Gabriel barely makes the cut for Carrie’s preference for no top 20 names, being No. 22 in 2015, but otherwise it seems such a good match for them in my opinion. It’s kind of sophisticated and gentlemanly, which I get from Owen and Julian, and it totally fits Carrie’s description of why she likes Julian: “I like the softer sound of it, and I think it sounds artistic and worldly.” One of my favorite name books, Puffy, Xena, Quentin, Uma by Joal Ryan, described Gabriel as “acceptably musical for a boy,” which always stuck with me! Gabe and Gil are both possible nicknames, I like them both! Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows’ feast day is Feb. 27; Gabriel Lalemant is March 17; the Annunciation (not St. Gabriel the Archangel’s feast day but associated with him) is March 25.

(2) Matthias, Tobias, Gideon
Here are some more vowel-couplet names that I thought were slam dunks until I realized that Matthias and Tobias rhyme with Elias, and Gideon has the same ending sound as Julian. I don’t think any of the potential negatives are necessarily deal-breakers though—with Elias being a middle name, I don’t think it’s a huge deal to use a rhyming name for another child’s first name. And Owen and Julian also have the same ending sound, so adding in a third boy with the same ending sound in Gideon could actually be really cool. I knew three brothers growing up named Cam3ron, J0nathan, and G!deon, and I always loved those names together. Tobias Francisco Borras Roman’s feast is Feb. 11.

(3) Pierce, Simon, Henry
Pierce has been on my mind ever since one of you readers left a comment saying she knows someone who named her son Pierce after Mary’s Heart being pierced with a sword. Wow! It’s a form of Peter and I would definitely put it in the “sophisticated and gentlemanly” category, as I would also do with Simon. Kind of bookish and smart, just like Owen and Julian. Ditto for Henry, and St. Henry Morse’s feast day is Feb. 1! There are a bunch of holy Peters with feasts in Feb and March: Peter Cambiano is Feb. 2, Peter Igneus is Feb. 8, Pierre Fremond is Feb. 10, Peter Damian is Feb. 21, the feast of the Chair of St. Peter is Feb. 22. Additionally Simon of Saint Bertin is Feb. 24 and Henry of Austria is March 7.

(4) Beau
I did a consultation for my brother and sister-in-law a year ago, and they were so on my mind when I was working on this for Carrie and her hubs, as they have two boys named Leo and Owen and several of the other names Carrie likes are ones my SIL and I discussed. Beau is one of my SIL’s favorite names for a boy, and I think it has that “soft, artistic” feel Carrie likes (I think so much of Beau Wilkes in Gone With the Wind). So I was delighted to see it’s a style match for Blaise and Xavier!

(5) Hugo, Oscar
Carrie and her hubs have kind of a Germanic contingent on their list—Frederick, Conrad, Felix—all of which made me think of Hugo, which is a name we considered for our youngest. Can’t you just picture a toddler Hugo? Ohmygoodness! So cute! There is the literary connection to be aware of in regards to Julian’s name—Jules Verne and Victor Hugo—but I also think that could be really cool. Hugh of Fosse’s feast is Feb. 10, Hugh dei Lippi-Uguccioni is Feb. 17.

I normally wouldn’t suggest another O name for a family that’s already used an O name, since O is a somewhat distinctive and rarely used letter, but since Carrie specifically said she didn’t mind repeating initials and since I thought Oscar would be awesome, I decided to go for it. I spotlighted it here.

(6) Isaac, Micah
Isaac and Micah kind of remind me of each other—both have a long I and a hard C; they’re short-to-medium in length; they’re both Old Testament. Isaac falls right in that “sophisticated, gentlemanly, bookish” category that I think really fits Carrie’s taste, and is saintly as well (St. Isaac Jogues). Micah is more in the “soft, artistic” category I think, maybe even too much so, as it’s in the top 1000 for girls (#108 for boys, #834 for girls), but it’s a name I love and I’d be thrilled for it to see even more use among boys. Isaac the Patriarch’s feast is March 25.

(7) Kolbe
Finally, I was thinking how Carrie said her family has strong German roots, and I always always think of St. Nicholas Owen when I see the name Owen, so I had in mind German-ish surnames and Kolbe immediately came to mind. Owen, Julian, and Kolbe strike me as quite a cool set of brothers!

And those are my idea for this family! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Owen and Julian’s little brother?

New articles up at CatholicMom and Nameberry

My recent post about the alleged lack of naming after women and moms inspired me to write two different articles on different aspects of the conversation — one for Catholic Mom and one for Nameberry. Both are now up! Check out Gender inequality in naming? at Catholic Mom and Why So Few Girl Juniors? at Nameberry. I’d love to hear your thoughts on both articles!

 

 

 

Naming after women

I spent a few minutes in the Baby Name Wizard discussion forums this morning as I ate my breakfast, and saw a comment containing a sentiment that I see with some regularity over there and that kind of irks me every time I see it:

I think it’s totally lovely to honor a mother with a name for a change (I know lots of men who name their sons after themselves, either as juniors outright or using variant forms or middle names, but very few women who do so).”

I don’t even disagree with the comment! I know it’s more common for a dad to have a son named after himself than for a mom to have a daughter named after herself. And the commenter herself is one I highly respect, as her thoughts are *always* well balanced and fair. But I feel testy and defensive when I see things like “honor a mother with a name for a change” and “lots of men who name their sons after themselves” — probably because I feel like it’s a tentacle of a whole “down with the patriarchy!” thought process that usually includes the “old men in white hats in Rome.” Blah.

Anyway, my contrarian Rome-loving self immediately thought of lots of examples, old and new, of people (babies and olders) being named after women. My mom, for one example, was half named for her mom (I saw “half” because her mom’s name was Anne, and my grandfather wanted to name my mom Anne — imagine that! A man! Wanting to name his baby girl after his beloved wife! But my grandmother wanted to name her one of the names-of-the-day: Susan. So they compromised with Susanne). My sister has my mom’s name as one of her middle names. My paternal grandfather was given his mom’s maiden name as a first name. Before I had so many boys, I’d always planned to work one or more elements of my name into one or more of my daughters’ names.

Moving farther afield from moms naming daughters after themselves, my youngest son’s first name is for my mother-in-law and his middle name for my mom. Julianamama shared that she knows a dad with a great devotion to St. Margaret who named his son Garrett after her! (I died when I read that! Brilliant!)

I’ve done two posts (On my bookshelf: A Dictionary of English Surnames and Girl names turned surnames) highlighting how various surnames are originally metronymics (identifying a person by his or her mother), or diminutives of female first names that became surnames, or perhaps arising from religious devotion to a female saint — like Marriot (from Mary), Ebbetts (from Isabel), Scollas (from Scholastica, specifically for St. Scholastica, according to Reaney & Wilson), and Emmett (from Emma). All of these would be fine and interesting for a child to be named, and they’re all feminine in origin (even if the parents don’t realize it or it wasn’t their intent). And I did a couple posts on current men religious who took their Mother Mary’s name as part of their new religious names: Eleven new Dominican priests and Men Who Love Mary: MFVA (a whole Order of men who take Mary as part of their new name! And one had Therese as well!), never mind all the male saints with Mary in their names: St. Clement Mary/Maria Hofbauer (depending on what you’re reading), St. Maximilian Mary/Maria Kolbe, St. Anthony Mary Claret, St. Jean Marie Vianney, St. Josemaria Escriva … who else?

I’d love to know what stories you all have of moms naming their daughters or sons after themselves or similar family stories, and whether you know any Brothers or Priests with female saints’ names, or boys who have taken a female saint’s name for a Confirmation name. It’s not all oppression, people. (I’m done ranting now. 🙂 )