Granny was called Norah, she did not like her name, but she never changed it. She was one of eight siblings, six girls and two boys, all born between 1880 and 1896. I was fascinated that FOUR of granny’s five sisters also disliked their names and informally changed them.

  • Julia became Lily
  • Hannah switched to Daisy
  • Catherine was known as Maud
  • Margaret adopted Peggy

Old Irish traditions of selecting children’s names may actually prove a good tool for anyone trying to research Irish family history. Children within a family were traditionally named according to the following pattern:

First son after father’s father
Second son after mother’s father
Third son after father
Fourth son after father’s oldest brother
Fifth son after mother’s oldest brother
First daughter after mother’s mother (or father’s mother)
Second daughter after father’s mother (or mother’s mother)
Third daughter after mother
Fourth daughter after mother’s oldest sister
Fifth daughter after father’s oldest sister

It was also common to use:

  • the mother’s maiden name as a second name;
  • the surname of close friends as a second name;
  • give another child exactly the same name as a previous child who had died; or
  • give a child the name of a relative or friend who had recently died.
  • Sometimes the Middle name was used. Examples would be Michael Joseph. The child maybe named Joseph.

Nowadays parents choose children’s names without regard for an unwritten rule, they might call a child after a favourite sports personality or celebrity. One poor child was called for all the members of his father’s favourite football team.

It is important to make sure the first and last names stand well together. You have to think ahead, a name that sounds good today, may be a horse of a different burger colour in ten or fifteen years down the line.
Some difficult combinations include:

Charman Toilette
Chastity Beltz
Wrigley Fields
Justin Credible
Michele Lynn  – chosen for a girl whose father was an auto mechanic but somehow didn’t realize he was effectively giving her the name of a tire.

You need to carefully consider your surname before naming a boy Harry if your last name is Richards.You don’t want him called a hairy dick when he goes to school.

I know of one young man who was called William Pius – William for his father and Pius for a pope his father had great admiration for. Can you imagine the horror of the school yard taunts and the nick name of ‘Willie Pee’!

Then there was a Boy named…..

Now I wonder what names the regular members of our LBC are calling me this week since the choice of Names as a topic was mine. Why not drift on round and check them out to see how they handle the handles! 😉 Delirious, Maxi, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox, Padmum, Ramana, Shackman speaks, The Old Fossil, Will Knott.

24 thoughts on “Names

  1. mayo

    GM, good one on names.
    So far being involved with the this blogging family. I have been pinned with the names–Gail, Milward, Maynard, Mil, Mayo, and Ass-H–.
    Now would the real “whatever his or her name is” reveal himself or herself?

    NO- it’s saver this way!

  2. Rummuser

    I lost a bet to myself that you would write about how you came to be called Grannymar while you were still a wee girl. But, this post on the naming traditions is revealing and the need to change names given by the family is a universal phenomenon with India not far behind as I have indicated in my post/

  3. Grannymar Post author

    Mayo – You have more names than I have had hot dinners!

    Delores – We know someone else who keeps a large file of unusual names.

  4. Grannymar Post author

    Ramana – I have told the ‘Grannymar’ story many times, I am sure everyone can repeat it in their sleep.

  5. gigi-hawaii

    Well, I have used the gigi-hawaii nickname since 1997 when I joined a chat room online. Now I have a blog by that name. I sometimes prefer gigi to Glenda, my real name.

  6. Grannymar Post author

    gigi – How easily we slip into these names. If Elly & I are in a public place and she needs to catch my attention, she will call “Grannymar!” As she says, there may be many women who would turn to acknowledge the word Mum, while there is only one Grannymar.

  7. wisewebwoman

    My grandmother was Norah too, GM, but always called “Sissie” and she named my aunt Johanna who was always called Daisy and on down the line.

    I am so glad that today that children are given their own unique names, I think that named after a forbear has its own baggage.


  8. Warren Lieberman

    Years ago I knew of the “Mohl” family who named a daughter Anna.

    I can only imagine the grief Anna Mohl faced in middle school.

    Think of the whole name before instilling a first or middle name.

  9. Grannymar Post author

    WWW – I had picked names before Elly was born. One for a son (name not the number. 😛 ) and a choice of two for a girl. I decided that if the baby was a girl, I would wait until I saw her and then decide. I think I made the right decision.

    Warren – 😆 All it needs is a change of accent, and that sounds very funny!

  10. shackman

    Well heck – I got #2 s name and I was #1, maybe having been stateside for so long they just made a mistake.

  11. Grannymar Post author

    shackman – Chastity Beltz? Oh wait now, you meant you were given your mother’s father name. Maybe your mother thought you looked like him!

  12. Nick

    Fortunately my name doesn’t lend itself to offensive or embarrassing variations, so it was never a liability when I was at school – or at work for that matter. I’m just glad I’m not Willy or Dicky or Teddy.

  13. Grannymar Post author

    Nick – You were very fortunate. Thinking back, most of the teasing and name changing when I was growing up, was within our own home. Maybe it prepared us for life outside.

  14. The Laughing Housewife

    True story: I had a friend called Colin Healing and a friend called Faith Willis who were dating. He proposed and she turned him down because she refused to become Mrs Faith Healing. 🙂

    I also know an Alison Ellison!

  15. The Old Fossil

    Speaking of graceful combinations that would last, you don’t know how hard it was to come up with Lafawnda Fossil. A rather euphonious appelation, don’t you think?

  16. Cathy in NZ

    Before, I get to my comment…I can’t post on Delirious posts, nothing seems to work 🙁

    In my family, some kids had name changes due to the fact they were the same name as parent. Elder sister is known as Molly – her real name is Mary (same as Mum)

    But my brother was tagged with Dads’ name until Granny Miller said “he looks like a Bill” and Bill carried on regardless. I remember as he got older and belonged to organisations – he would be a meeting where people were asked to say something about themselves that others wouldn’t know…

    He would say “well, I’m not really Bill and nor I William…I’m Ingleby” and he would add, “I stopped the tradition when my son was born he has Ingleby as a second name only!! “

  17. Grannymar Post author

    Cathy – Sorry you had difficulty with commenting on Life on a Limb. My sister & mother had the same name. My sister gained the prefix ‘little’ in front of her name and it worked well for years…. until mammy grew down and my little sister stretched to reach the sky. We solved that problem when the first grandchild arrived and mammy became Nana to one and all.

  18. Brighid

    I never liked my real name, so have gone by my initials for years and years. Just don’t even hear my name anymore.
    My dad was named a grandparent’s last name, and his middle name is his mother’s maiden name. His name suits him I think. I will have to ask him if he likes it!!!

  19. Grannymar Post author

    Brighid – being called by the initials of first names, was common in Ireland for years. Not so many PJs, & JJs around these days.

  20. Alice

    Names as a subject was a good choice. I always accused my mother of selling my name for a silver dollar. That’s how much my old-main aunt gave her to name me after her. I always hated it while growing up, but eventually I grew into it. Nowadays, it’s old-fashioned enough in this country as to be kind of quaint.

  21. Grannymar Post author

    Alice – There were no Alice’s on either side of my family, but Jack had a cousin called Alice and I became very fond of her.


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