Irish names

Kylara

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I thought this would go best in the resources section.

I have been having great trouble with Irish names - mainly pronunciation, so thought I would cry for help from our Irish friends here ;) So please help me!

Searching for Irish names is hard enough, but as most are in Irish spellings I have no idea how they sound (phonetically), so can't work out if they will suit my characters or not :( The only Irish names (written in Irish) that I know the pronunciation of are of old school friends (Medb and Bean Mhi) or the abundance of horse people called Podraig. so I'm struggling with all names I find as my language skills lie in Latin and Ancient Greek derived things, not Celtic!

So I thought this would be a helpful thread for us writers (and maybe readers) so we can find out how to spell and pronounce various Irish names (and whether there is a North/Republic divide in naming?)

A few to start off with:

Cillian
Oisin
Aoife

I think I just don't know enough Irish to work them out properly :(
 

Jo Zebedee

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North - South - Irish names are much more common in RoI and mostly seen in the north in families of Catholic religion. If I was going to use it in NI (and I have) it indicates they're Catholic. But, actually, even innocuous names in the North denote religion - Mary, for instance, is often catholic, William protestant. Surnames are even more problematic. If you venture into the North, PM me.

Pronounciation (these are my approximation) -

Cillian - Kill-ee-an
Aoife - Eee-fa (but it has almost an AE sound at the start)
Oisin - Ou-shin (the ou is like gosh)

If you google online for Irish name pronounciation you'll find most of the common ones. :)
 

Brian G Turner

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Also note that where names are of Gaelic origin, they can also sometimes be found in Scotland.
 

Kylara

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Thanks Jo.

I hadn't even thought about the Catholic/Protestant thing, though it makes an awful lot of sense!

I tend to not trust the online pronunciations I find for things...paranoia ;) haha.

Yay! I was right about the hard K sound for Cillian, but off for the rest hah! Typical ;)

Are the three I have common or not really? I struggle as my background isn't the most helpful for that sort of thing - either horse people names, or public school girl names ;) it's no wonder names are my biggest issue!

And have I spelled Medb and Bean Mhi correctly? (been a long time since I have their names written down, we generally chat in person and I have them under phonetics on my phone in case someone else has to find them in my phone!)
 

Jo Zebedee

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Aoife's quite common, and Oisin, although more in the south. Cillian, I've not come across many.

Common ones I know of: Sean, Paddy/Padraig, Eoin, Connor, Conal, Ciaran.

Girls: Siobhan, Aine, Eilish, Fionnula (check that spelling!), Aishling (my daughter's second name, and unusually so round here. I just liked it.)

Irish spelling - I'm not the lady to help you. Shall we leave it that my heritage hasn't exposed me to the language much...? @Ray McCarthy or @alchemist might be of more help. :)
 

Kylara

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Haha, wow that's a lot with tricky spelling/pronunciations! I can guess at a few, but only due to possibly anglicised versions (?) My favourite Irish name to mispronounce is Niamh (I like how it sound by saying each letter hah! and used to annoy Irish friends with it) but I have never met anyone with the name. I know so many Podraigs I can't really believe anyone in Ireland, north or south, is named anything different ;)

This is incredibly interesting I must say. Are there any particular letter combos to look out for that have a particular pronunciation very different to the English letters? Like the db in Medb?
 

svalbard

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Medb is better known as Maeve and means "she who intoxicates". It is, as far as I know, an old Irish Celtic name that pre-dates Christianity in Ireland. The most notable mention of the name is in The Tain where Medb\Maeve is the powerful Queen of Connaught.

More names for boys would be Sheamus, Cian, Shane, Rory(common in Scots Gaelic as well).

Some of the popular girls names would be Sinead, Caoimhe, Emer, Tara, Grainne.

Pronunciation can change depending very much on locality, although a good guide is that the C=K, ao=uu. I am not very good at phonetics, but it goes something like above.
 

Medb

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Thanks Jo.

I hadn't even thought about the Catholic/Protestant thing, though it makes an awful lot of sense!

I tend to not trust the online pronunciations I find for things...paranoia ;) haha.

Yay! I was right about the hard K sound for Cillian, but off for the rest hah! Typical ;)

Are the three I have common or not really? I struggle as my background isn't the most helpful for that sort of thing - either horse people names, or public school girl names ;) it's no wonder names are my biggest issue!

And have I spelled Medb and Bean Mhi correctly? (been a long time since I have their names written down, we generally chat in person and I have them under phonetics on my phone in case someone else has to find them in my phone!)
Do I know you? I think the Bean Mhi and Medb you’re talking about is me and my sister..
 

SPoots

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I was to be Robert Ian Poots. Robert and Ian are both very common N. Irish Protestant names (Robert is still my middle name), but those names were vetoed as my dad kept laughing at the initials.
 

dannymcg

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, even innocuous names in the North denote religion - Mary, for instance, is often catholic, William protestant
I went to a Roman Catholic school in England and the same thing applies, 32 kids in my class, I think a few more girls than boys.
Seven Marys and not one William.
 

airsophia

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Are you sure Cillian is spoken with a K like Killian? I'd guess it's like Sillian
 

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