1. Tessie
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    Tessie Contributing Member Contributor

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    Know any good Irish names?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Tessie, Sep 16, 2010.

    Hello guys, I was wondering if anyone had some suggestions.

    I'm mainly looking for common Irish first names as I'm not too sure if my current name fits quite right. My book is set in the 18th century, so maybe I could get some old-fashioned names that are still popular today? My character is a very tall, 24-year-old male with green eyes and raven black hair. His name is "Alec Sullivan," but I am curious over whether or not "Alec" was a common name in the 18th century, and whether it is (or was) viewed as being a decidedly English name.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    google Irish names
     
  3. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Alec would be more Scots.

    What religion were they and whereabouts in Ireland?

    My Irish ancestors are things like: John, John Joseph, Thomas, William, James John, George, James
    Women are: Mary Ann, Marion, Emily, Lillian, Anastasia, Louisa, Agnes,

    However some are more prodestant names, some RC, I also have Jewish ones. A better bet than googling would be familysearch.org put a parent search in for James or Michael and Mary with possibly Smith or O'Donnell or Herbert or Fagan or Sullivan depending on the religion then look at the area in Ireland you want around those dates.

    A traditionally Irish name may not be appropriate in some timeframes. James, Michael, Thomas, Joseph are fairly safe for RC and prodestant, Joseph and Michael can also be Jewish.

    The only Alexander Sullivans I could find born in Ireland were born in the 1800s it would be very much a presbyterian/prodestant name I would guess associated with Scotland as closely as it is could be wrong
     
  4. Tessie
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    Tessie Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks, Charlotte! And actually I think he should be born in 1750 or later, so maybe that will narrow the search for me.

    I like Joseph. "Joe Sullivan" doesn't sound bad either. :)
     
  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I like that,
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    What about Paddy? Or Liam?
     
  7. Tessie
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    Tessie Contributing Member Contributor

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    I love Patrick, don't get me wrong. I live in a predominantly Irish town, but that is just too stereotypical or predictable, isn't it? I am in need of a name that is from an almost long ago time. But maybe I'm just being a little anal about the whole thing.

    Liam I like too. I think it is the Irish name for William, if I remember correctly my brother telling me the other day.
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You can use the name Padraig. It seems like it's from a long time ago.
     
  9. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you're on safer ground going with O'Sullivan. I (a Mr Sullivan, with Irish ancestry) was once playfully abused by an Irishman for having no 'O'. Apparently, most Sullivans have at some point dropped the O and that has some slight political or religious signifance, as Elgaisma hints at.
     
  10. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I need to check with my Mum I know there is something about the name Sullivan that is itching in my brain lol but can't remember it and a brief google isn't telling me. I know even in the 1950s my Mum would not have been allowed to date someone called Patrick O'Donnell. My grandfather's first question to any prospective boyfriend was where did you go to school?

    That was despite the fearsome much loved and respected matriach of the family being RC and called Marion O'Donnell. Actually for the OP Castle Rackrent by Maria Edgeworth may be worth a read it's about the timescale and is about landlords in Ireland, it is the earliest story of it's kind.

    I am fairly sure Liam would have denoted Northern Ireland and Prodestant - William was the big no because of William of Orange. I don't know how bad it would be to get it wrong these days but my older brother would have a right go at his parents for calling him Kevin Michael and sending him to a non Catholic School:) As late as the 1970s kids were savvy enough about the names to bully him over it.

    Oh the Sullivans I knew growing up were often called Sully,
     
  11. k.little90
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    k.little90 Active Member

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    Yeah, Cogito beat me to the punch. In this instance, I would say that google is your best friend :)

    Something I like to do that might help you would be to buy or check out a baby name book from the library. Or I'm sure Amazon has all sorts of name books based around what you are looking for.
     
  12. TobiasJames
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    TobiasJames Contributing Member

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    Dougal McDougal? :)

    I agree with the consensus here, Google will give you far more than a room full of strangers ever will on this one.
     
  13. Tessie
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    Tessie Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks, guys! Yeah, I'm still letting my decision hang, waiting for a friend to tell me more info. I know I'll find the right name, but I don't think Dougal McDougal will quite fit. I'll keep a mental note of Dougal though.
     
  14. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    Also, you'll have think about where in Ireland your character is from. Certain names come from certain parts, especially in pre-railway times when populations were quite sedentary. Again, a search engine can help here. You should be able to find local census information, as I did for Galway in the 17th century.
     
  15. Tessie
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    Tessie Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, thanks stubeard, Charlotte told me this earlier. I had no idea actually, but I plan to get an authentic name, because I need my character to be as accurate to the time period as he can be.
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    dougal mcdougal sounds much more scottish to me, than irish...
     
  17. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know a Brian O'Brien. He's English by the way.
     
  18. Tessie
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    Tessie Contributing Member Contributor

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    :) Thanks, Trilby. I like O'Brien, and I think I'll keep it in mind. My character I'm trying to make the name for is fresh off the ship from Ireland, and I'm mostly in search for an authentic first name. I actually regret having posed the question; I think this isn't the correct place to be asking for help on such trivial things.
     
  19. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    for totally authentic irish:

    liam
    sean
    patrick/padraig
    michael
    aidan
    bryan
    cary
    kevin
    deven
    dermot
    galen

    and lots more you can find here: http://www.babynamescountry.com/origins/irish_boy_baby_names9.html

    for last names, anything with an o' in front of it...
     
  20. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Trouble is with that list you can get it very wrong. Anything with a Mc in front is also Irish McDougal is Irish - Mac so MacDougal is Scots. Mc pronounced Mic is Irish in origin. You get Mc's in Scotland but they mostly arrived during the potato famine. The Scots came from Ireland and we don't know how Pictland turned into Scotland but it did:) So there is overlap in language and culture.

    Like Stubeard said use a census or a geneaology site, pick someone from the same place and religion. This is one case where google can give you bad information and a baby name book will not cut it, even Behind the Name won't help. You don't want to pick the wrong name - with Ireland it is regional, political, religious etc Just sticking O in front doesn't work because that could get the origin wrong. Someone with an O is almost certainly Roman Catholic - and 'Irish' rather than 'British'

    18th Century Ireland isn't my main area but I do know that it was even more political and regionalised than now. It was the same time the English were stamping out or trying to the local cultures. People tried to anglicise in order to get on in life etc You need to be sure your name is not offensive.
     
  21. Tessie
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    Tessie Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thank you, I definitely don't want to offend anyone. I know my novel will be printed in America, and it probably won't be advertised outside of my state since it deals with some local culture, but even people here might not like it if I choose the wrong name. I actually had no idea about the delicateness of choosing my character's identity. Thank you all very much. :D I will be doing some research with a genealogy site.
     
  22. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hehe a Scots character of the same time would be slightly easier:)
     
  23. Tessie
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    Tessie Contributing Member Contributor

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    hmm. . .very tempting, but another supporting character of mine is already a Scotsman. Scott Smith. Very original, yes, but I thought of his name before I began writing. It just stuck I guess. :)
     
  24. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    But turning Mac into Mc won't magically convert a Scottish name to Irish.
     
  25. Forgotten_Memories
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    Forgotten_Memories Active Member

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    What about Sean? My friend has a bunch of cousins and other distant irish relatives named Sean. I'm guessing it's fairly popular. Shaw is also an Irish surname that could be good. :)
     

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