People often ask me if there is an “Irish Naming Pattern.” The simple answer is “Yes.” However, it not that simple, as circumstances and individuals tend to mess with our nice little formulas. This blog focuses on traditional Irish Catholic naming patterns which are as follows:
1st son was named after the father’s father
2nd son was named after the mother’s father
3rd son was named after the father
4th son was named after the father’s eldest brother
1st daughter was named after the mother’s mother
2nd daughter was named after the father’s mother
3rd daughter was named after the mother
4th daughter was named after the mother’s eldest sister
Nice formula on paper, but let’s discuss how it often plays out in real families. If you are already working in the Irish parish registers, be aware that these can be incomplete for all denominations, especially Roman Catholic. So you might only document half or less of the children in a family. That really messes with the formula in a bad way.
Another factor is even if you think you have all the children documented, look for gaps, because so many children were born dead or were miscarried. Thus they were never christened. In other cases, a child would die and the mother would name a later child after the one which died. These can mess with the formula. You may wonder how a stillborn or miscarriage would affect the formula. Well, it all depends on if the family saw the dead child as a child or not. If so, even without being christened, they may have named the child. Also, don’t forget, many children were named after the local favorite saint. It gets complicated.
My advice is to always look for the naming patterns in your research. However, don’t be literal in your approach and don’t set anything in stone. Tomorrow I will be talking about Scottish Naming Patterns.
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Irish Genealogical Society International: www.irishgenealogical.org I write articles for their journal The Septs
Kelowna & District Genealogical Society located in beautiful British Columbia: www.kdgs.ca I will be speaking at their conference in September
Mike O’Laughlin author of Irish family history books: www.irishroots.com
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