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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Baby Naming Issue: Celtic/Gaelic Names

Siobhan writes:
I'm pregnant with baby number three, a boy. I'm due to be induced February 25th. I'm so upset about the whole naming thing that I've actually broken down in tears a couple times which is really unlike me. I'm the third born in my family and I have an unusual Gaelic name. Because of this I would like our third born to have a Gaelic name as well. When I was first pregnant I was set on the Kieran for a boy. When we found out that we were having a boy I discovered that my husband wasn't too fond of it. He didn't hate it exactly but he "pretends" that he can't say it. He always pronounces it like "Karen" and he's concerned that it sounds too much like a girl's name. After a lot of discussion we had finally settled on the name Connor. It felt like a nice compromise because it was an Irish name but wasn't too "weird" for my husband. I really liked it but still had a few reservations about how popular it might be. I tend to prefer names that are outside the top 100. Then on Christmas we discovered that my husband's sister-in-law's brother had recently had a baby boy and named him Connor. It didn't bother me much cause these aren't people that we see more than once a year, if that. The only real issue would be my neices and newphew having two cousins named Connor. But for some reason it has really soured my husband on the name so I feel like we're back to square one.

The only thing we know for sure is the middle name has to be Leo or Clayton after my late grandfather. Both my other kids have family names from my dad's side and my husband's side so we want this baby to have a name from my mother. Naming the baby after her father is very important to me.
My two children are Seth (4) and Rose (2)

The other names I love are:

Patrick -worried that this one may be too common though

I don't want anything popular so I'm against: Aiden, Liam, Collin, Brayden, etc.

Our last name is two syllables and starts with a "D" and ends with an "N" so while I love the names Declan and Desmond something like that just wouldn't work cause it's to cutesy.

I would so love any help or suggestions you could give. My first two children were so easy and their names are just perfect. I want to feel that way with this baby but right now it seems impossible.

Oh dear! Baby naming can be so fun, but it can also be so stressful! I THINK of it as one of my favorite parts of pregnancy, but then when I'm actually trying to CHOOSE I find I want it to be OVER.

It makes it harder when the name needs to satisfy a number of requirements: in this case, it needs to be Gaelic, it shouldn't be common, it needs to work with Leo or Clayton, it needs to work with Seth and Rose, it needs to work with your D______n surname.

I THINK I might have the perfect name for you: Finn. It's Gaelic; it was #368 in 2008 (source: Social Security Administration); it works fine with either Leo or Clayton (I prefer it with Leo); it's great with Seth and Rose (one syllable, four letters); and I believe it works with your surname.

I find myself very tempted to find names that are the same one-syllable four-letter as Seth and Rose:


Though if you're considering more children, you may not want to paint yourself into a corner. And besides, Sean and Shea might be too close to Seth, and Reid and Rhys might be too close to Rose. Cael is good but doesn't go very well with either Leo or Clayton.

Other possibilities, all picked from the Celtic section of The Baby Name Wizard:


I like Tiernan because it's similar to Kieran but perhaps your husband would find himself able to pronounce it with that extra N in there. Keegan, too, might please both of you.

Cormac and Lachlan and Lorcan remind me of Declan, but without the D. D. problem.

Angus and Fergus both give you the cute nickname Gus.

Carrick is good because it's so unusual and yet it's almost Eric, which keeps it familiar. Same with Brogan and Rogan, which are similar to the more familiar Logan.

Niall and Lyle seem similar in style to Seth. Ian and Ewan, too.

Name update 03-28-2010! Siobhan writes:
I just wanted to give you the update that our baby boy Callum Leo was born on March 1st. 8 lbs, 14 oz and 20.5 inches. So many of your suggestions were great and we talked it over quite a bit before deciding. The last couple weeks I just fell in love with Callum and when he was born with his auburn hair and blue eyes it just fit him perfectly. Most people have taken to calling him Cal for short which is just adorable. Thanks again for your help, it was really appreciated!


Carolyn said...

Another idea similar to Kiernan is Keenan. It was a friend's surname but I don't know if it is of Gaelic origin.

Ian, Brogan, and Callum are my other favorites.

Good luck!

Jane said...


Cathryn said...

We have Cian... a variant on your Kian, and I think a more typical Irish was of spelling it. We had a really tough time with boys names and our surname, and Cian was one that really stood out. It's very unusual in the US, I've only heard of a few others - friends of friends. It's often mispronounced, but once they've been corrected, people remember him! I couldn't imagine him as anything else!
Good luck with your decision.

beyond said...

(According to my source, Connor (57) is much more popular than Patrick (127). In 2008 at any rate.)
Both your middle name choices are great.
I got these off a site for Irish boy names. For inspiration...
Fineas Leo. Ronan Clayton. Seth, Rose and Fionn.
Good luck.

Jaclyn said...

Love Swistle's idea: Reid Clayton and Finn Leo

Anonymous said...

i love finn-great name!
other suggestions:

Melissa Haworth said...

I love Finn. I think the gal over at Sew Liberated named her son Finnian with Finn as the nn they always use. Her husband is Irish I believe and Finnian is super cute.

Siobhan said...

Wow, thanks so much for all the ideas! I do LOVE the name Finn. I think it's gaining in popularity as I've seen it mentioned a number of time on the pregnancy boards I've visited. I realize Connor is actually more popular as a baby name right now than Patrick, but I guess I just view Patrick as a more common name overall. The name I'm currently stuck on right now is Callum so I'd be interested to hear opinions on it. It's very popular in the UK but I worry it's almost too unique in the US and would always be mispronounced. You've given me a lot to think about and it's great to have some new names to work with. Thanks so much!

Fran said...

I love the name Callum! I just suggested it to a friend yesterday

StephLove said...

Of the names suggested, I like these best:


Ian's in the top 100, but at #80 it's not super-popular. It's actually my favorite and goes so well with your other kids' names. I prefer Clayton for the middle (both for Ian and in general).

Frazzled Mom said...

I looked up the popularity stats for Patrick and see others already did. My point is, Patrick is outside the top 100. You may perceive it as popular but among his peers Patrick will be a pleasant surprise I think.

I really like Malcolm too. I like most of the names on Swistle's list.

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

Love Finn and Ian.

I think you should go with Callum though if your hubby is on board with you too -- there was a Callum at a daycare I worked at (in Canada, not the USA though I should say in case that matters), and he was the only Callum I've ever known, but he was the CUTEST kid. The name totally grew on me from that experience. I think with the popularity of names like Caden, Callum would work perfectly well. And it might be nice to be a little more unique.

Also, may I just say since I have the chance, "Siobhan" is my favourite gaelic name... every time I read it in a British-author's novel, I love it. I work with a Siobhan too, and she's lovely.

Anonymous said...

i was going to push for callum! ha ha glad you like it so well. i know of one callum--married to my friend in cali and he's actually from scotland. i think it's a fantastic name. not too hard to pronounce, and not easily forgotten either.

Anonymous said...

Callum is a great name! I've only met one Callum - it's not very popular, but I had no trouble pronouncing it. It sounds like the perfect name for your family! I like it with both middle names.

Callum Clayton D-----n. CCD. Seth, Rose, and Callum.
Callum Leo D-----n. CLD. Seth, Rose, and Callum.


MC said...

I absolutely love the name Finnegan.

I also am a fan of the name Tighe, which is said with a long e and a hard g...phonetically, I guess it would be TEEG.

Erica said...

Callum is a fantastic name. As a matter of fact, it's at the top of the list for my own son (due 5/31) and I'm not even Gaelic!

I also adore Finn as a NN for either Finnian or Finnigan.

JCF said...

I love Callum! We've considered it for our next baby, if we have another boy. We already have a Declan, and I think Callum is great with it!

Stephanie said...


Carmen said...

My son's name is Kieran & my FIL constantly pronounces it 'Karen'. So frustrating!

Callum is a great name! I can't imagine how it would be mispronounced.

Kieran was our top name, but next on the list was Brennan. Maybe that would work?

beyond said...

Callum? It's a great name. it's ranked in the 900s, which is what you are looking for as well. not sure why it would be mispronounced, or how it could be mispronounced for that matter. (it'a KAL-um, rhymes with pal and sum, right?)

M.Amanda said...

Callum is a great name. Easy to pronounce and spell, can be shortened to Cal.

I also have a weakness for Angus, but I think Callum fits better with Seth and Rose than Angus does.

Anonymous said...

I've another name problem. What would you do if your son's wife wanted to name their child after his father's name, and that father was a man who never raised him, almost killed his mother, and never talks to him. The wife knew this would upset the mother, but refused to change her mind. The son wanted another name, but gave in because he didn't want the wife upset. He also justified it by sayin he had friends with the name, and didn't name the child after his father.

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

Anonymous: Whoa. Sounds... controversial. I'm sorry that your daughter-in-law did that to you -- I don't know how a marriage works when one person calls ALL the shots. Is the baby already born? I guess you will just have to try so hard to think of the baby's name as JUST the baby's name -- maybe it has a nickname you can use that your son's father didn't use? Then maybe it won't feel like his father's name, but instead will feel just like your grandson's name?

Farrell said...

What about Shamus? The irish for "james"?

Jeni Q said...

What about Kiernan? It's how I always pronounce Keiran and doesn't sound at all like Karen.

Erin said...

Love Reid, and Callum, and also quite like Finn and all its permutations. I think Callum is quite easy to pronounce and people shouldn't have much trouble with it - its not common but its not unheard of either. Go with it! Great with Seth and Rose too, even if you just go with Cal.

Anonymous...try swistle? I don't know what I would do in your situation, but once you've mentioned that it would conjure up bad associations and they are aware of that, I'm not sure what else you can do but learn to love the name they chose, and use a nickname if you need to. Your son and daughter in law (I noticed you called her your sons wife, I'm assuming you two aren't terribly close) may really like the name outside of that association, or maybe they don't have the same relationship with the father or view him the same as you do. I realize that can be tough and not seem fair, but once you've raised objections theres nothing else to do but learn to live with it. It is their baby and their name choice. Good luck and congrats, a new grandbaby is a blessing no matter what his name!

TeamBrown said...

I adore the name Patrick. I would bet it's not as popular as you think. Much like my son - Peter - it's well known but not actually much used for young boys these days.

If you don't like that one, I really like Seamus too.

Anonymous said...

I have a friend that named her baby Broderick and they call him Brock
which would be cute:)

Andria Stanley said...

I love that name! Congrats on your sweet boy!