When I was in school there were lots of Niamhs, Orlas, Ciaras, Maeves, Sinéads, Deirdres and Aoifes (it was a girls only school). I suspect these names seemed a bit odd to my grandmothers’ generation of Kates, Hannahs, Noras, Mollys, Bridgets and Ninas.
The latest generation have gone for even more challenging spellings; how about Orfhlaith (pronouned Orla), Maebhdh (pronounced Maiv), Rudhán (pronounced roo awn), Eoghan (pronounced owen), or Sabhdh (pronounced sive – rhymes with drive)? Irish is all about extra consonants. Also, the currently favoured boys names? They often end in a – try Setanta, Barra, Fiachra or Fachtna.
We also have reimported names from America. Kathleen is an anglicisation of the Irish name Caitlín (pronounced Kathleen, trust me here). Caitlín emigrated and became Caitlin which the Americans, as anglophones, pronounced Kate Lynn. That’s fine by me but really, I think there is nothing dafter than an Irish child, born in this jurisdiction being called Caitlin pronounced Kate Lynn. There, I’ve said it. Other American imports that leave me very cold are the range of Irish surnames being used as first names: Casey, Riley, Brandon, Ryan. This is just wrong, I tell you, wrong. Whatever might happen in far off America, it’s just odd here. So there.
Please do put your least favourite names in the comments. Ah go on.