The Null Device
Paddy and Mick
The Discovery Channel's St. Patrick's Day edition on how stereotypically "Irish" names aren't
Many popular male first names commonly thought of as being Irish, such as Patrick, Mick and Sean, actually originated with the English and the French-Danish-Norwegian Normans, who invaded Ireland in the 12th century and led to radical changes in the way Irish families named their children, according to a new study.
"Archetypal Irish names in Irish America, such as Patty and Mick, really are more a product of the Roman Catholic Renaissance (which occurred well after the Anglo-Norman invasion in 1167 A.D.). The clergy tried to wipe out traditional Irish names by replacing them with Biblical names."
Canonical laws in Ireland for many years prevented the baptism of children unless the chosen name was that of a saint. Girls often took on variations of the name Mary. At the same time, harsh penal laws from the 16th to the 19th century further weakened traditional Gaelic/Celtic culture.
At around the time of the invasion, popular Irish male first names included Diarmaid, Donnchadh, Cormac, Cathal, Niall, Brian, and Aodh (also spelled Áed). Female first names tended to vary more often, in part because women did not pass down the family's surname.
Apparently traditional names have been reemerging since the 19th century. (Which I can believe; whereas I have yet to meet any Irishmen named Paddy, Mick or Sean, I have met an Oisin and an Íarla.)
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