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Update

I will leave this here for at least another year.

Daniel

Future of this blog

77 Kay at Apamea 2

It is astonishing to me how many people are still reading Kay’s site. The current hosting arrangement expires next month. Best wishes to all who knew Kay, may she rest in peace. She is greatly missed.

It is with sadness I announce that Kay has recently died.  She will be greatly missed.IMG_0010 rs

Sabbatical

I’m on sabbatical from the Nook at the moment.

In the meantime, please feel free to make yourself at home. Brew yourself a nice cuppa, draw a chair up to the fire, kick off your shoes, and idle away a spare moment or two browsing the Nook’s eclectic collection :).

And, of course, there’s always my book too: Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Names: For Pagans, Witches, Wiccans, Druids, Heathens, Mages, Shamans & Independent Thinkers of All Sorts Who Are Curious About Names from Every Place and Every Time

Sláinte!

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 ;).

You are unlikely to meet many an Aphra these days.

Not only has it never reached the American top thousand, it has never managed to accrue five or more bearers in any year since records began.

Indeed, it is one of those historic curios which might have long ago slipped into quiet obscurity were it not for one notable bearer.

The poet, playwright and spy Aphra Behn.

Aphra was born in 1640 and died at the age of forty-eight in 1689.

Her early years are somewhat shrouded in mystery, and there is many a question mark which hovers over her life and adventures.

The biggest is over the trip she is supposed to have taken to Surinam in the early sixteen-sixties, the inspiration, it is said, for her Oroonoko, a work which is viewed by many as containing an early condemnation of slavery and the slave-trade.

In the mid 1660s, during the second Anglo-Dutch War, she spied for King Charles II in Antwerp. Charles wasn’t very good at paying her though, and by the end of the decade she was in a debtor’s prison in London.

Someone, however — someone unidentified — paid for her release, after which she turned to writing, becoming one of England’s first professional female writers.

She wrote plays, poetry and verse, often publishing under the name Astraea — said to have been her code name when spying in the Netherlands.

On her death, she was buried in Westminster Abbey — though not in Poets’ Corner.

But what of her name?

Many regard it as almost as mysterious as her life.

The first theory is that it is taken from the phrase “in the house of Aphrah, roll thyself in the dust,” which occurs in the biblical Book of Micah.

Certainly, it is probable that this is behind some examples of Aphra and Aphrah in the period, even though it arose as a mistake; it is aphrah itself which means “dust” in Hebrew, and it wasn’t actually a genuine given-name at all.

Another theory is that it is a variant of Afra, the feminine form of the Latin adjective afer meaning “black.” It occurs as a name in Roman times, and is borne by a minor saint.

However, she was not venerated in Britain in the medieval and early modern period, making it fairly unlikely that this was the source of Aphra Behn’s name, even though she may have been a Catholic.

Perhaps the biggest clue to the real origin of Aphra lies in the fact that her name was recorded in the parish register at her baptism as Eaffry.

This and other variants, such as Effrye, Effery, Efferay, Effray, Affray, and Affery are all found in the medieval period, suggesting that they actually represent a survival of an Old English name.

Likely contenders are Elfreda (ælf “elf ” + þrӯð “strength”), Etheldred (æðel “noble” + þrӯð “strength”), Ælthryth (æl “all” + þrȳð “strength”), or Æðelfrið (æðel “noble” + friþ “peace”).

Even Alfred might lie behind it, as it was also used as a girl’s name in the early medieval period, when it was often Latinized as Albreda. Some of its medieval forms, such as Avery, really aren’t a million miles away from Aphra.

Affery was still to be found in the nineteenth century; it was one of the unusual names collected by Charles Dickens. He obviously took rather a shine to it, as he went on to use it for a character in Little Dorrit.

So, if you fancy an unusual girl’s name with heritage, you could do a lot worse than the intriguing and beguiling Aphra.

Dame

Back today with some more names which fall into both the surname and “word name” category.

But first, I’d like to say a big thank you to Anna at Waltzing More than Matilda for her lovely review of Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Names and Nook of Names. It really makes it all worthwhile :)

Anyway, without further ado, here’s the good, the bad and the ugly that D has to offer.

All of them have seen genuine use — some, thankfully, only in the middle spot.

And I truly pity poor Dung Park, who died in Liverpool in 1959, Dunger Lane, baptized in Cambridgeshire in 1803, and Daft Pogson, born in 1843…

Daft Deary Docking Drape
Dafter Death Doctor Draper
Daily Debonnaire Dodge Drave
Dainty Decker Doe Drawer
Daisy Deed Dole Dray
Dale Deem Doll Dredge
Dally Deemer Dollar Dresser
Dame Deeming Dolphin Drew
Damper Deer Dome Dribble
Dams Defender Dool Driver
Damsel Delicate Doomsday Droop
Damson Dell Dormer Drought
Dance Delver Dory Drover
Dancer Den (Denn) Dosser Drudge
Dandelion Denial Dot (Dott) Dry
Dandy Dent Double Dryer
Dane Desert Doubler Dubber
Danger Dew Doublet Duck
Dare Dewy Dough Ducker
Dark Diamond Doughty Duckling
Darker Diaper Dove Dudgeon
Darling Dice Dover Duff
Darnel Dig (Diggs) Dow Duke
Dart Digger Dowe Dullard
Darter Dill Dower Duly
Dash Dilly Dowie Dummer
Dauber Dime Dowl Dumper
Daughters Dimmer Down Dunce
Daw Din Downer Dung
Dawn Dingle Dowse Dunger
Day Dipper Dowsing Dunking
Dayman Disher Doxy Durable
Deacon Ditch Doyley Dust
Deal Ditcher Drab (Drabb) Dusting
Dean Diver Dragon Dusty
Dear Divine Drain Dye
Dearie Dock Drake Dyer
Dearth Docker Drane Dyke
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