The other day I saw Colm Meaney walking down Lower Baggot Street in Dublin. My friend and I looked at each other and said, “That’s Collum Meaney.” Had I seen the actor last year in Austin I would have called him Cohlm, with a long O and the L sliding directly into a short M. I think I would have been wrong. I work with a guy named Colm, pronounced Collum. Like the Irish pronunciation of film, fillum.
I would have thought that generations of trendy US parents had already poached all the Irish names, but turns out there are tons I’d never heard before, and frequently mispronounce when I see them in print. Many of them reflect Irish pronunciation, like “mh” and “bh” having a V sound. That’s probably why we don’t see these more. No one wants their daughter being taunted with “Grainy, Grainy, has no brainy.” I’ve listed some new names we’ve encountered below.
|Grainne||graw + nya||patron of the harvest in Irish Mythology|
|Caithriona||ka- + rin + a||Irish form of Catherine|
|Mairead||mawr + aid||Irish form of Margaret|
|Niamh||neev||Daughter of Sea God in Irish Mythology|
|Orlaith||or + la||Princess in Irish Mythology|
|Roisin||ro + sheen||little rose; represents Ireland in traditional Gaelic poetry|
|Aoife||ee + fa||Female warrior in Irish Mythology|
|Aisling||ash + ling||From aislinge which means vision or dream|
|Siobhan||shiv + awn||Irish form of Joan, meaning “God is gracious”|
|Sile||she + la||Sheila; Irish form of the Latin name Cecilia|
|Padraig||paw + drig||Irish form of Patrick|
|Eoin||oh + an||Irish form of John|
|Colm||col + lum||Signifies the dove, a symbol of peace|
|Diarmuid||deer + mid||Irish version of Jeremiah, Jeremy|
|Ciaran||kee + rawn||From Saint Kieran|
It took me a while to learn how to pronounce the surname of one of my co-workers, O’Cinneide. O Cah-nay’-dah. I want to call him O Canada, but I don’t think anyone gets it, so I’ve settled on O’Cyanide.
My apologies for not figuring out how to make the accents for many of these names. I spent all my blogging patience trying to make the tables display correctly. Remind me to hard code the table next time.