Traditionally, the ‘Old Irish Naming Pattern’ was widely used in the 1700’s, 1800’s and well into the second half of the 1900’s across all areas of Ireland by both catholics and non-catholics – although to a lesser degree in the females of the wealthier classes
This traditional Irish naming pattern can be both a gift and a curse in Irish family history research. If all children survived, the pattern appeared as follows…
1st son was named after the father’s father
2nd son was named after the mother’s father
3rd son was named after the father’s eldest brother
4th son was named after the mother’s eldest brother
5th son was named after the father
1st daughter was named after the father’s mother
2nd daughter was named after the mother’s mother
3rd daughter was named after the father’s eldest sister
4th daughter was named after the mother’s eldest sister
5th daughter was named after the mother
Naming the first born children after their grand-parents was both a mark of honour and respect, it was also a means of keeping the names alive in the family line
However, if a child died, who was named after his paternal grandfather, the next male birth was likely to be given the same name, placing him 2nd, 3rd or even 4th born male. This causes confusion for any researcher who places an over reliance on the naming pattern, it can also be a gift when used wisely – flagging earlier births and deaths
Another instance in which this naming pattern can be thrown out is when a child was born sickly or dying. Baptism was a priority for a catholic child especially, to ‘save it’s soul’. This child may be named using a family name, but the name of the paternal grandfather might be ‘reserved’ for a later healthy child who would be expected to live.
The ‘Traditional Irish Naming Pattern’ is a very useful tool for genealogists who uses it wisely.