What’s in a name…?

Indigo-Rose, Olimpia, Triniti, Honey, Vanilla, Tea, Ocean, Serenity, Autumn-Lyn, Kinga, Pepper, Yo-yo and Gypsy; Nolan, Rocklyn, Heaven, Maximus, Phoenix (also spelled Phoenixx), A-jay or Diesel – just some of the (ahem) ‘interesting’ names that parents in Northern Ireland have given their daughters and sons over the last year. Good luck with the teasing, kids.

  • Pete Baker
  • Modernist
  • Modernist
  • Glencoppagagh

    Noticeable that none of the top 10 girls names could be considered Irish while only a couple of the boys’ names (Conor, Ryan) are tenuously Irish having become generally popular noises.
    Is this evidence of post-nationalism?
    Certainly the popularity of monosyllabic names suggests dumbing down all round.

  • Modernist

    Dunno Glencoppagagh do you know of any sureveys carried out recently on how parents name their children varies according to political ideology. I know I personally have a distictively English first name but I am a nationalist, work that one out

  • Modernist

    Missspelt surveys

  • Mack


    That actually represents an increase – see the 1975 list below. Bear in mind the long tail – there are lots of Celtic names to choose from and people in from Celtic countries are more likely to choose from down the tail (won’t all standardise on one or two popular Celtic names). There are alternatives on the same theme (Callum or Colm) and different spellings (Meadhbh, Medb, Meabh or Maeve) which would each reduce the perceived popularity of each name individually.

    Presumably Katie could be a contraction of Catherine, Kathleen or Katrina and so maybe used in an Irish or Celtic context by parents in NI.

    Most popular boy’s and girl’s names, 1975

    David Joanne
    Paul Karen
    John Catherine
    Mark Julie
    Stephen Sharon
    Michael Mary
    William Claire
    James Lisa
    Jonathan Michelle
    Robert Nicola

  • Pancho’s Horse

    I was always under the impression that names like Jack and Mollie and Katie were ‘baby’ names for John,Mary and Katherine.Were the parents not aware of this? I notice the name Charlie too. Next we’ll have Jimmy and Micky and Cissie.

  • dunreavynomore

    Do sth Armagh people call their children Laundered Diesel or even Washed?

  • Dave

    You should put a right on children’s names into the proposed NI Bill of Rights that prohibits parents from inflicting cruel and usual names on their offspring. I bet that most of the parents who are giving their kids asinine names are in their early twenties. I fully intended to name by first child Tyrone if it was a boy. Luckily it was a girl and I didn’t have any silly plans for a girl’s name. I’d feel incredibly guilty now.

  • Tir Eoghain Gael

    In New York the name Tyrone is very popular with the African American community.

  • Glencoppagagh

    It’s just that I come across names like Niamh, Aine, Orla, Ciaran, Eoghan etc all the time (I’ve heard Newry dubbed Orlaville) but they just don’t feature on the top names list now or ever, it seems. Maybe Irish names have just gone out of fashion.
    By the way, I don’t think Callum is in any way used as a substitute for Colm. It jsut happens to be a fashionable noise.

    Until fairly recently, the ever benevolent French state controlled the names that children could be given.

  • Belfast Greyhound

    I was told by a Headteacher in Alloa that when he was registering a new pupil he asked the mother what the child’s name was and was told to his amazement, Chlamydia.
    A bit (totally) surprised he remarked that it seemed an unusual name and did she know what it meant.
    No, she said, but she just liked the sound of it.
    In a world of change this has got to be a problem in the future for some poor girl in the future if she did not have a middle name.
    Try getting, let alone keeping a boyfriend, or girlfriend, with a name like that.
    Some Mothers really must hate their kids to start them off in life with a burden like that.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    [Keep it civil – edited moderator]

  • Belfast Gonzo

    It was civil. Nor was it in breach of any commenting policy. I’d like an explanation, and to know who was responsible for this editing.

  • Harry Flashman

    “Until fairly recently, the ever benevolent French state controlled the names that children could be given.”

    And in Northern Ireland too, which to my surprise was pointed out to me a few years ago on Slugger itself.

    You see my late Grandmother, God rest her, always explained that whilst all her children had Irish language names (Blathnaid, Domhnal etc) their birth certificates had the “English” versions because they weren’t allowed to use Irish language names on birth registration back then.

    I simply disbelieved this and assumed it to be a bit of a Nationalist myth or perhaps the actions of some old bigotted regsitrar at the Londonderry Registrar’s Department. Amazingly someone here confirmed that my dear old granny was indeed correct and the relevant law was not repealed until 1967.

    You can learn a lot here.

  • Mick

    Yes. None of my mothers family were known by their real names. Although only my uncle Seamus went by the Irish version. These days I’m considered old fashioned because I ‘believe’ in real names and that diminutives should come after.

  • The Spectator


    We of course had the fun in my grandmothers house of two boys (out of over a dozen) called Eoin and Séan – which both translated to John (one through the latin, one through the english I’m told – Eoin tracks, if memory serves to Johannus, while Séan tracked to John, or Jean.

    Of course are local registrar insisted on trying to call both of them John – Hilarity ensues!

  • Mack

    Glencoppagh – The Irish names are still on the list, they just don’t make it into the top ten (and rarely ever did, Conor & Ryan in this years top ten is unusual) & there are more of them. I don’t think they’re any less popular now than before.

    Callum is the Scots Gaelic version of the Irish Colm.

  • Glencoppagagh

    I suppose one of the problems arising from such incontinent procreation is dreaming up names so its litle wonder that two were given the same name. It would be interesting to know whether your grandparents actually realised this.

    But it’s popularity is not due to its Gaelic roots. It’s because it makes an agreeable noise and has been used by celebs (perhaps George Best’s son being named Callum has had some influence in NI).

  • Greenflag

    Callum has great potential as a name . With a little imagination it can be ‘upgraded ‘ to Calumny which could be the male version of the infamous Calamity of American western lore (Calamity Jane ) . Then again it would fit very well with the common surname Campbell ( means twisted mouth in the Irish i.e Caim Beal )

    You could even get to elect politicians with names like Calumny instead of the boring Gregory Campbell . A sort of titular double dose of ‘lying ‘ nomenclature . How apt for NI 😉

    Irish i.e Gaelic Irish names are all very well for the rich and famous or for those who have some knowledge of the Irish or Scots Gaelic languages but for the broader anglosphere the name Siobhan ( Shivawn ) although to my ears a nice sounding name is often pronounced by the great unwashed as Seebhan which to my ears anyway sounds as if this person may have Pakistani or Chinese connections 😉

    Pete’s reference to the New Jersey family above calling their son Adolf Hitler and giving the rest of their children names associated with genocide is further proof if ever it was needed that sterilisation may not be such a bad policy after all 🙁

    Adolf btw was a popular name in Germany before the former art student turned dictator destroyed it’s ‘acceptability ‘ by his penchant for world conquest and sundry other visions of grandeur

  • Greenflag

    Addendum to above .

    The name Attila is still very popular in Hungary. But then Hungarians are ‘different ‘:) Perhaps it has something to do with the loss of one third of their territory and 5 million Hungarians to neighbouring countries post 1918 Trianon treachery that has kept ‘Attila ‘ to the forefront of Hungarian imaginations ? Having played second fiddle in the long standing Austro Hungarian Empire it must have been a bit of a comedown to have to play in the fourth division of european countries ?

  • Dave

    Glencoppagagh, my quip about the Bill of Rights was flippant. I don’t think it is the business of the state. The ‘afflicted’ kids can legally change their names when they become adults (and I wonder if any of them actually do?) Some of the conventional names are equally embarrassing, e.g. Sebastian, Rupert.

    A nine-year-old girl named Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii didn’t see the funny side, and petitioned a New Zealand court to change it.

    [i]The lawyer claimed the girl fully understood the absurdity of her name, unlike her parents who had not considered the implications when they named her.

    Justice Robert Murfitt said the name clearly presented a social hurdle for the child.

    “It makes a fool of the child and sets her up with a social disability and handicap,” he said.[/i]

  • Belfast Gonzo

    On the subject of diminutives and translations, I wonder if the Irish name ‘Orlaith’ or its variations – which I’m told means ‘golden-haired child’ – has not suffered from its shortening to ‘Orla’.

    The latter translates as ‘vomit’ or ‘retch’…!

  • Celina

    One French couple once wanted to call their daughter Clitoris and were quite upset when they were refused permission.