Hi Duana

I am fairly newly pregnant with my husband's and my first child. We don't know if we're having a boy or a girl yet, and we are leaning towards leaving it as a surprise anyway. The name situation is already complicated though! Issue 1 is that I am very set on an Irish name for this baby and all that follow. Issue 2 is that we are both very set on a deal we worked out whereby any girls we have will get my husband's vaguely English and German hyphenated last name, let's say Hughes-Kohler, and any boys will get my Irish last name, let's say Flaherty. The main quandary is that I'm not sure how well the Irish girls' names I like -- Emer and Mirren and Maeve and maybe Sorcha -- sound with a non-Irish last name like Hughes-Kohler. Do you have any better, more harmonious Irish girls' names? The secondary quandary is that the Irish boys' names I have loved forever -- Aidan and Liam and Kieran -- are getting too popular for my personal comfort. Do you have any Irish boys' names that are still Irish, still distinctive, but not too popular and also not too unpronounceable?

By the way, I enjoy your attempts to push Roisin! I have a cat named Roisin, and I love the name, but no one, and I mean no one, can figure out how to pronounce it. The vet calls her Raisin!



Oh buddy. OK. Let’s really examine this. You’re going to have girls named Hughes-Kohler, and boys named Flaherty, and you haven’t had a kid yet?   Are you cool with people asking you when you were remarried? Who your boys’ father is? Believe me, I get the whole issue with chain-of-title last names, and hyphens make this even worse, but….is there a way to call them all Flaherty and give them all a Hughes middle? Or something? This seems like a recipe for a headache, and I don’t want that for you. I could be wrong, and I’ll accept that, but dude. That is a lot.

Having said that, and assuming you’re still reading, let’s answer your easiest question first. Yes, the Irish boys names are getting very popular – so let’s see if you can get ahead of the next wave.  

I still love Ronan for just about everyone and perhaps because of the movie…it hasn’t caught on in the same way? Similarly, Rory is super Irish and super lovable and not so common yet – but get on it already. Then there’s Eamonn, which is beautiful and classic but man, is it ever being co-opted by the “A” people. “Aemon.” Tread lightly here.

I love Padraig but nobody will pronounce it correctly, and I am going to wind up to pitch for Donal (DOUGH-nal), not “Donnell” but I already can see people wrinkling their noses.  

I’m intentionally staying away from the Connor/Finn/Casey brand of Irish-lite because I don’t get the impression that’s your bag, and I remind you, you have five minutes to get on Niall if that’s your thing – but in other news, Seamus?  Tiernan?  My beloved Malachy?

Now, as for your girls’ names, I dunno, man. Three syllables in a last name really calls for a shorter first, and so Maeve fits the bill, and Emer could make it. Mirren and Sorcha seem to be too long or, more importantly, too full of consonants. You need a name that sounds light and airy. This is a place where good old Niamh could make an appearance, depending on how willing you are to get down with spelling issues.  And speaking of…

There is a name I love. It’s Irish. It’s simple. It’s BEGGING to happen on these shores.   But in its original spelling it is unpronounceable.  

Say it with me… “Sive”. Isn’t it great? Rhymes with five, for all of you who have number fetishes. So then…as my grandmother rolls in her grave, is it OK to anglicize the spelling from the utterly untenable “Sadhbh”? If it means I’m promoting the name?

Okay, now I’ve left you alone about surnames for a number of paragraphs. You do what you do, but um…I don’t know if that’s going to work out for you the way you want.

Let me know!