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Posts Tagged ‘Rafferty’

As everyone and their auntie knows, today is St Paddy’s day.

And as Patrick is Ireland’s patron, it’s a day as much about celebrating Ireland as commemmorating him.

Although many contend that his feast day of March 17 is because it is the anniversary of his death, many others propose it has more to do with the approaching equinox and Pagan celebrations which marked the arrival of spring.

Of course, it might well be both.

Saturday has become the day when I generally look at great surnames which have not yet seen much use as first names. I plan to take a detailed look at Irish surnames — and surnames from the other Celtic lands — after I’ve finished the English ones, but to mark the special occasion, I thought I’d take a look today at the very best and most wearable contemporary options that Ireland has to offer.

All are Anglicized forms of  the original Irish Gaelic.

  • BardonÓ Bardáin “son of the little bard.” Also Barden and Bardane.
  • Bradigan — Ó Bradagáin probably “descendant of the spirited one.”
  • Branigan — Ó Branagáin “descendant of Branagan” (“little raven”).
  • Branley — Ó Branghaile “descendant of Branghal” (“raven-valour”). Also Brannelly.
  • BrannaghBreathnach “a Breton.”
  • Brannan — Ó Branáin “descendant of Branan” (“little raven”).
  • Cafferty — Mac Eachmharcaigh “son of the steed-rider.”
  • Cassily — Ó Caisile, possibly “descendant of the one from Cashel” or a variant of Ó Caiside — the Irish Gaelic form of the well-known Cassidy.
  • Connan — Mac Canann “son of the little wolf cub.”
  • Coveney — Mac Coibheanaigh “son of the trooper.”
  • Darragh — Mac Dubhdara “son of the black oak” (Darragh is a popular boy’s name in the Republic of Ireland).
  • Donnelly — Ó Donnghaile “descendant of Donnghal” (“brown-valour”).
  • Drennan — Ó Draighnáin “descendant of the blackthorn.”
  • Finnerty — Ó Fionnachta “descendant of Fionnachta” (“white-snow”). Also Finaghty.
  • FlahertyÓ Flaithbheartaigh “descendant of Flaithbheartaigh” (“bright ruler”). Also Flaverty.
  • Foylan — Ó Faoileáin “descedant of Faoileán” (“little wolf”).
  • GallinaghÓ Gailínigh possibly “descendant of the flattering one.” Also Gallina.
  • Gilligan — Mac Giollagáin “son of the little lad/devotee.”
  • Guinevan — probably Mac Dhuinnebháin “son of Donnadubhán” (“little brown-black one”).
  • Hanley — Ó hÁinle “descendant of the dainty one.”
  • Hanlon — Ó hAnluáin “descendant of Anluan” (probably “great champion” — intensifying prefix an + luan “champion”).
  • Helehan — Ó hAiolleacháin ” descendant of the little joyful one.”
  • Henelly — a variant of FENELLY.
  • Hennessy
  • Kendrigan — Ó Cinndeargáin probably “descendant of the little red-headed one.”
  • Kerrigan — Ó Ciaragáin “descendant of the little black one.”
  • Kinneally — Ó Cinnfhaolaidh ” descendant of the wolf’s-head” (i.e. “outlaw”).
  • Kitterick — Mac Shitric “son of Sitric” (Irish form of the Norse Sigtrygg “true victory”).
  • Larrissey — Ó Learghusa “descendant of Learghus” (“sea-vigour”). Also Laracy.
  • Lafferty — Ó Laithbheartaigh. Essentially a variant of FLAHERTY.
  • LynaghLaighneach “Leinsterman.” Also Leynagh.
  • Madigan — Ó Madagáin “descendant of the little hound.”
  • Marron — Ó Mearáin “descendant of the little lively/quick one.”
  • Mellerick — Ó Maoilgheiric, probably “descendant of a devotee of St Cyriac.”
  • Merrigan — Ó Muireagáin “descendant of Muireagan” (probably a diminutive of muir “sea”).
  • Milligan — Ó Maoilegáin, a variant of Ó Maolagáin “descendant of the little bald one/devotee.”
  • Morrissey — Ó Muirgheasa “descendant of Muirgheas” (“sea-action”).
  • Neligan — Ó Niallagain “descendant of Niallagán” (a derivative of the well-known Irish name Neil, essentially “little Neil”).
  • Neylan — Ó Niallain “descendant of Niallán” (also “little Neil”). Also Nealon and Neilon.
  • Olice — perhaps eolgasasch “knowledgeable.” Also Olis.
  • Olisagh — a variant of OLICE.
  • Rafferty
  • Ronaghan — Ó Reannacháin “descendant of the litte sharp-pointed/starry one.”
  • Rogan — Ó Ruadhagáin “descendant of the little red one.”
  • Ruane — Ó Ruadháin “descendant of the little red one.”
  • Solan — Ó Sochlacháin “descendant of the little renowned one.”
  • Soran — Ó Soracháin “descendant of the little bright one.” Also Sorahan.
  • Tansey — Mac an Tanáiste “son of the heir presumptive.”
  • Thoran — Ó Toráin “descendant of the little lord.”
  • Timoney — Ó Tiománaidhe “descendant of the driver.”
  • Toran — variant of THORAN.
  • Traynor — Mac Thréinfhir “son of the strong man.”  Also Treanor.
  • Tynan — Ó Teimhneáin “descendant of the dark one.”
  • Varrelly — Mac an Bhearshúiligh “son of the sharp-eyed (man).”
  • VeighMac an Beatha “son of life.” Also MacVey and MacEvoy.

Mine’s a guinness ;).

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Yesterday, I featured my pick of girls’ names here at the Nook in 2011.

Now it’s the boys’ turn:

  • Alban — most people associate Alban with St Alban of St Alban’s, Hertfordshire. However, Alban is also an old Welsh word meaning “equinox” and “solstice,” and it features in the Druid names of the Solstices and Equinoxes. As for the saint, there are actually three of them and two are British. The one who gave his name to St. Albans was supposedly a Roman soldier martyred in or around 283 CE. However, there is no evidence for his existence before the late fifth century, and the fact he was executed by beheading is a big give-away that a Celtic divinity lies behind him. If he truly was a real historical figure, his name may derive from the Latin cognomen Albanus “of Alba (Longa).” But this is unlikely, as even the legends say that he was a native Briton. Therefore, real or divine, his name probably derives from the Common Celtic *albiyo- “(upper) world” and “white” — the source of  the Old Welsh alban “solstice,” which brings us full circle.
  • Angus — A wonderful old Scottish name, which still sees plenty of use in Scotland but deserves more attention elsewhere, especially by those proud of their Scottish roots.
  • Ao — Love this short, snappy ‘”-o” ending discovery from France.
  • Faramond — With its splendid meaning of “journey-protection,” Faramond has cropped up more than once this year. Uncommon, but with a long, rich history, I think it’s an underused gem just waiting to be embraced.
  • Felix — Another name which has justly had a lot of mention at the Nook. A great meaning, a great “look,” I love it.
  • Iolo — A very accesible Welsh name with a wonderful past, and lots of great Pagan overtones.
  • Loxias — I’ve always thought this epithet of Apollo would make a glorious name…
  • Lucius — I’m an unashamed champion of this magnificent name from Ancient Rome!
  • Odin — the Norse God, Lord of the Wild Hunt; a great name, especially appropriate this time of year, when he rides his eight-legged Sleipnir in the Wild Hunt — seen by many as one of the sources of the modern myth of Father Christmas and the reindeer.
  • Orion — Another name from the ancient world with a very contemporary ring.
  • Rafferty — I have quite a crush on this fabulous Irish surname which is yet to reach the top 1000 in the US, but was 406th in the UK last year and continues to rise.
  • Rufus — Rufus is deservedly on the rise again on both sides of the Atlantic, but is still far from common.
  • Sol — If short and sweet with a big Pagan/Druid/Wiccan punch is what you’re after, Sol can barely be beaten. For those who have issues with short, snappy names in their own right which might be mistaken for a nickname, there are plenty of “long-form” options, from the biblical — but still distinctly witchy Solomon — to the Pagan-and-proud Solstice, not to mention the magical Latin Solifer.

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Matilda in Australia and her husband have a little boy with the beautiful name of Peregrine.

Their great passion is travel; they love the outdoors and also enjoy reading. Matilda found out she was expecting Peregrine when travelling, and when her husband encountered the name, they thought it was perfect for their child, as they like unusual, but long-established names with a history.

Peregrine, with its meaning  “traveler,” fitted the bill perfectly.

They are now expecting twins and would like help in finding a name which has a similar sort of background to Peregrine, or sounds harmonious with it.

I’m very flattered to be asked my opinion, and these are my thoughts.

There’s certainly a lot of names of Latin origin, like Peregrine, which would complement Peregrine beautifully, and if the search is widened to include Latin’s close partner Greek, then there are even more beauties to tempt the discerning parent to be:

Boys:

  • Aeneas (ǝ-NAY-ǝs/ǝ-NEE-ǝs) — Greek: ainê “praise.” The son of the Goddess Venus by a mortal, Aeneas according to Greek and Roman myth was one of the few Trojans to survive the Trojan war. The Romans believed he and his followers sailed from the smoking ruins to found a new home in Latium and was the direct ancestor of Julius Caesar and the Emperor Augustus. Virgil’s masterpiece The Aeneid chronicled that epic journey. In use since the 16th C, mostly in Scotland as an “English form” of Angus.
  • Felix — Latin: felix “auspicious” and “happy.” It was very common in the Roman world, and has also been used in the ESW since the 16th C. Seems to be rising in popularity at the moment, but at 122nd in the UK, and 331st in the US, I think it still falls in the not-common quality.
  • Hector — Greek: hektôr “holding fast.” The name of the champion of the Trojans. Although he was eventually killed by the Greek hero Achilles, he was held in high repute in the ancient world, considered an honorable, loyal, brave and noble man. Used since the 16th C, especially in Scotland, where it was used instead of the Gaelic Eachann (“brown horse”).
  • Octavian — English form of the Latin Octavianus meaning “belonging to the Octavius family (gens) “; the Octavii derived their name from octavus “eighth” from octo “eight” — a very auspicious number, associated with infinity. The two circles represent the joining of Heaven and Earth (or this world and the Otherworld, depending on your perspective). This was the Emperor Augustus’s name from the time of Julius Caesar’s death (and Octavian’s adoption as his heir in Caesar’s will) and the time he took the name Augustus on becoming emperor. Used from the 16th C, but always rare.
  • Philemon (FIL-ǝ-mǝn) — Greek: philêma “kiss.” Philemon and his wife Baucis entertained Zeus and Hermes as they traveled in mortal guise. As a reward they were blessed with long life and the gift that neither would outlive the other; at the moment of their death they were transformed into an oak and linden respectively. Philemon was used as a genuine given name in Ancient Greece, and has been found in the ESW since the 16th C. Although it begins with a “p,” like Peregrine, the initial sound is different, so I don’t think it’s a problen.
  • Ptolemy (TOL-ǝ-mee) — English form of the (Macedonian) Ancient Greek Ptolemaios. Ptolemy’s 2nd C Geographica is one of the most important sources of information on the geography of the Roman Empire to survive from the ancient world. It was only one of his works — he was a true polymath. Ptolemy was a very common name in the Greek world; it occurs in mythology and in history; another significant Ptolemy was the Macedonian general Ptolemaios Soter, founder of the Ptolemaic Dynasty of Egypt (to which Cleopatra belonged), and most of Egypt’s last pharaohs were also called Ptolemy. The only drawback of Ptolemy, in my view, is its origin; it derives from the Greek ptolemos, a variant of polemos “war,” and ptolemaios carries the meaning “belonging to war,” “hostile” and “enemy.” But this doesn’t have to be interpreted negatively — there are many things which are worthy to be hostile or an enemy of, including war itself, but also injustice, prejudice, intolerance, hatred, greed, etc., etc. And although it also formally begins with a “p,” that “p” is silent.
  • Rufus — Latin rufus “red.” Not just for red-heads :). The name can also be chosen for its positive associations with red. Like Felix, is definitely on the up at the moment, but still has a long way to go before it is in danger of falling out of the unusual category. Occurs as a nickname as early as the 11th C (a famous example being King William II — known as William Rufus), and as a genuine name from about the 16th.
  • Silvanus — Silas is very much coming into vogue at the moment, but I prefer Silvanus, the name from which it almost certainly derived. Silvanus is the Roman God of woods and wild places. Also used from the 16th C or so.
  • Theophilus — meaning “friend of (a) God/Divine Being,” Theophilus makes an interesting alternative to Theodore and, of course, shares the lovely short-form Theo. Used since the 16th C.

Girls:

  • Althea — the Greek name for the marsh mallow, from althos “healing.” A name from Greek mythology, used by 17th C poets (most famously by Richard Lovelace in “To Althea, from Prison” (1642), containing the famous lines: “Stone walls do not a prison make/Nor iron bars a cage.” A more unusual “long-form” of Thea.
  • Amabel — from the Latin amabilis “loveable.” Amabel has been used since medieval times, though it was quickly eclipsed by its simpler form Mabel. Amabel never quite died out and saw a slight revival in the 19th C, but remains a rarity.
  • Beatrix — Latin: beatrix “she who causes happiness.” Much talked about in name circles, Beatrix is still rare (Beatrice is the more popular spelling, but still uncommon, ranked 834th in the US and 116th in the UK last year).
  • Felicity — Latin: felicitas “happiness.” Felicitas is the Roman Goddess of happiness and good fortune. It’s a name full of cheerfulness and positivity. In use since the 16th C, it has only made it over the parapet in America in the last decade (due to a TV series of the name, which ran 1998-2002), though it has enjoyed a fair amount of popularity in Britain (and Australia too, I think) in the mid 20th C, but is currently still only in quiet usage, ranked 195th in Britain last year.
  • Flora — from the Latin flos “flower”; the name of the Roman Goddess of flowers. Another name used since the 16th C, particularly in Scotland, this time in place of the Gaelic Fionnuala. One of the best-known bearers was Flora Macdonald (1722-90), who famously helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape after his defeat in 1745, helping him “sail over the sea to Skye.” The related Florence is one of those names everyone seems to be watching at the moment, but Flora, although increasing, is still under the radar.
  • Hermione — I’ve featured Hermione a couple of times here at the Nook (here and here) and that’s because I think it’s such a beautiful and special name. Despite being catapulted to fame by Harry Potter, it’s not seeing very much use (yet). As essentially the feminine form of Hermes, one of whose spheres of influence was as the proctector of travelers, Hermione would make a nice choice for those for whom travel is important. It has been used as a genuine given name since the 17th C.
  • Ianthe (eye-AN-thee) — Greek: ia “violets” + anthos “flower.” The name of an Oceanid in Greek mythology. A favorite of the poets since the 17th C; Percy Bysshe Shelley called his daughter, born in 1813, Ianthe. Related are the equally attractive Ione (eye-OH-nee) and Iole (eye-OH-lee), both meaning “violet” and the 19th C hybrid of Iole and Ianthe — Iolanthe (eye-oh-LAN-thee).
  • Miranda — from the Latin mirandus “worthy of admiration.” I rather like Miri/Mirie as a pet-form.Used by Shakespeare for the heroine of The Tempest, the lovely noblewoman exiled since childhood with her slightly mad, wizard father on a magical island, which Caliban describes with exquisite beauty in one of my favorite Shakespearean passages:

… the isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again.

  • Oenone (EE-nō-nee/ee-NŌ-nee) — from the Greek oinos “wine.” The name of a mountain-nymph, the first wife of Paris of Troy.
  • Zenobia — although interpreted as “life of Zeus” in Greek, the name is probably from the Palmyrean form of Arabic Zaynab, the name of a fragrant flowering plant, as the original Zenobia was a 3rd C Queen of Palmyra who defied the Romans. Although she was ultimately defeated, she was said to have lived out her days in Rome as a respected philosopher and socialite. Used since the 16th C, but always a rarity. The American actress Tina Fey called her daughter Alice Zenobia in 2005, but it doesn’t seem to have impacted very much on the name’s use.

Non-classical names which I think also work well with Peregrine are:

Boys:

  • Diggory — A name of a knight in Arthurian Romance. The meaning is very uncertain; the traditional interpretation has it from Medieval French de “of” + egaré “lost,” but this is unlikely. Diggory is probably a much mangled French form of a name which was probably Celtic in origin. There is a legendary king of Dumnonia (Devon and Cornwall) called Dungarth (meaning “deep love”), who might conceivably lie behind the character. Diggory has been used since the 15th C, especially in Devon and Cornwall, and was used by C.S. Lewis in The Magician’s Nephew, for the hero, whose fantastical journey led to the creation of Narnia and the Wardrobe.
  • Faramond — Old German: fara ‘journey’ + munda ‘protection’.
  • Guy — Old German: witu “wood” or wit “wide” (encompassing the sense of “widely travelled” as well as referring to experience, knowledge, etc).
  • Jago (JAY-go) — the Cornish form of Jacob.
  • Jasper — Jasper is the English form of Caspar, one of the names attached to the fabled three “wise men” in medieval times. Its etymology is not known for certain, but most favor a derivation from the Persian khazāndār “treasurer.” Jasper has been used since the 14th C, and Caspar (the Dutch form) since the 19th. The vampire of the name in the Twilight series has put it in the spotlight, and it is increasing in use, but hasn’t yet reached the top 150 yet.
  • Ludovick — from the Latin form of LouisLudovicus — in orgin an Old German name meaning “loud battle” or “renowned warrior.” As with Ptolemy, the martial element may not immediately appeal, but there are many battles of a non-violent kind to be fought metaphorically in life. Shortens to the fabulous Ludo.
  • Matthias (mǝth-EYE-ǝs) — the Greek form of Matthew “gift of Yahweh.” Depending on your religious persuasion, you may or may not be able to see past the meaning, but it certainly sounds magnificent. A related name which presents the same dilemma is Ozias (ō-ZEYE-ǝs) “strength of Yahweh.”
  • Orlando — an Italian form of Roland dating from the Renaissance, when it featured in two of the most important works of literature of the period, Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato, and Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso. It also had an outing in Shakespeare, and has been used in the English-speaking world since the 17th C. It was actually at its most popular in America in the 1970s (reaching the dizzing heights of 247th place in 1975), and although Orlando Bloom has raised its profile, he doesn’t seem to have affected its use all that much. It remains uncommon.
  • Rafferty — The wild-card. Rafferty is an Irish surname, but can be considered the Anglicised form of the Gaelic names behind that surname, both bynames, one meaning “wielder of prosperity” — highly auspicious — the other “spring-tide” — full of the promise of new journeys to be taken. Its use as a given name without connection to a Rafferty is quite recent, but its roots are old.
  • Torquil

Girls:

  • Christabel — a literary creation of medieval times, a combination of Christ with the –bel ending of names such as Isabel. It returned to modest use in the 19th C thanks to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Christabel” (1816); his own granddaughter was named Christabel in 1843. The suffragette Christabel Pankhurst (1880-1958) is the most famous bearer.
  • Clemency — one of the Puritan names which was first used in the 17th C. With its attractive meaning, it remains a lovely choice.
  • Emmeline — a Norman-French name, starting out as a diminutive of the Germanic Amalia, from amal “work.” Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928) was the leader of the Suffragettes.
  • Estrella — a Spanish name used in the English-speaking world since the early 19th C. Its roots lie with the Germanic Austrechildis “Easter battle,” but it has long been associated with the Spanish estrella  “star.” Alfonso and Estrella (1822) is an opera by Schubert.
  • Imogen — the heroine of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, one of the few tragedies with a happy ending. Imogen is a princess who undertakes a physical and emotional journey to be reunited with the man she loves. It is generally accepted that the name arose as a misreading of the Celtic Innogen, meaning “daughter.”
  • Jessamy
  • Rosamund
  • Sabrina — don’t let the teenage witch put you off this gem!
  • Topaz — the wildcard in the girls. The name of the precious stone. It derives ultimately from the Sanskrit tapas “heat” and “fire.” It is one of the gem names adopted at the end of the 19th C. Borne by the wonderful character of Topaz Mortmain in Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle (1949).

So what does everyone think? What would you choose?

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I took to musing the other day about how popular the top ten names of 2010 in the USA were twenty-five years ago.

Will the names currently occupying the spots taken by America’s current favorites be the top ten in 2035?

First things first — where were today’s top ten boys’ names twenty-five years back?

The year was 1985. Hair was Big. Shoulder pads were even Bigger…

And 2010’s top ten occupied the following spots:

  1. Jacob: 35 (rising)
  2. Ethan: 308 (in decline; reached lowest ebb in 1986, ranked 333)
  3. Michael: 1 (reigned 1954-1998)
  4. Jayden:  Unranked (only 10 boys received the name in 1985)
  5. William: 16 (in decline; rose again from mid ’90s)
  6. Alexander: 50 (rising)
  7. Noah: 217 (in decline; started to rise again in 1990)
  8. Daniel: 5 (at its peak; has been dithering between the 5th and 12th spot ever since)
  9. Aiden: Unranked (only 19 boys called Aiden in 1985, and only 54 called Aidan)
  10. Anthony: 20 (slowly rising)

So who has filled their shoes now? And will they be 2035’s top ten?

  1. LUCAS is 35. A distinct maybe. Has been rising consistently since 1959, not too fast, not too slow. It is currently the most popular name in France, so the precedent is set… nearby, other contenders could be Caleb (33) or Isaac (39).
  2. JUDAH. In 308th place it is actually Emilio, but as lovely a name as it is, I can’t see it ever reaching the top ten. More likely from this section of the ranks is Judah (297) or maybe Finn (300), both rising rapidly in recent years.
  3. JACOB is 1. I doubt it. 1985’s top dog Michael was no 1 for nearly half a century. Jacob’s been there for over ten years, to be sure, but will it be there much longer? And does it have Michael’s staying power? Time will tell.
  4. RAFFERTY. A lot of names names were borne by just ten baby boys in 2010, including gems such as Yates, Taro, Soul, Rigel, Remus, Philemon, Odysseus, Orestes, Lion, Kit, Covey, Ashe, Altair. But Rafferty, I think, is the one to watch.
  5. ELIJAH. Matthew occupies the current 16th slot, but along with other former top-tenners close by — Christopher (13), Andrew (14) and David (15) — Matthew has had its day and will probably be still falling. Elijah (18), however, shows all the signs of heading into the top ten erelong.
  6. OWEN. Current no. 50 is Justin, which is in decline, and I don’t see turning. Owen, however, is only a couple of spots away at 47 and rising…
  7. SILASJohnathan is the real 217, but would be very unlikely to follow in Noah’s footsteps and make the top ten. Standard Jonathan (28), I think will always outrank its variant spellings. If any name from the 210s or 22os will be top ten in 25 years time, I’d put money on it being Silas (222).
  8. WILLIAM is 5. I wouldn’t be surprised if this tenacious classic is still in the top ten twenty-years from now. That or that other barnacle, Michael.
  9. INDIGO. Lots of names notched up just 19 bearers in 2010, including Aldrin, Arlan, Bayne, Bowman, Godric, Jehu, Mordecai, Sabin and Summit.  I think however, that there are stronger contenders among those names with 18 bearers in 2010, which include Ajax, Arrow, Griffith, Prentice, Roark and Sirius. But I’m going with the wildcard Indigo from those with 20 bearers last year, because I like it so much.
  10. JOSEPH is 20. He could do it, although that other old faithful James (19) could have clawed his way back up to the top ten too.

What girls’ names will be top of the tree in 2035? Find out tomorrow…

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