Traditional Irish Naming Patterns

It is a common Irish tradition in naming children to follow a naming pattern. Irish families did not always follow the pattern exactly but it seems that in nearly all cases their children were named after close relations. If a child died young it was also customary for the next child of the same sex to be given the name of the deceased child.

Knowing this naming pattern can help in looking for Irish ancestors’ names. For example if you have a Michael Fanning and his eldest son is called William there is a very good chance that he was named after his grandfather.

Sons

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

4th son was named after the father’s eldest brother

5th son was named after the mother’s eldest brother

Daughters

1st daughter was named after the mother’s mother

2nd daughter was named after the father’s mother

3rd daughter was named after the mother

4th daughter was named after the mother’s eldest sister

5th daughter was named after the father’s eldest sister

These Christian names have been used over and over in my Fanning family: William, Edward, John, Patrick, Michael, Joseph, Thomas, Catherine, Mary, Sarah, Johanna, Teresa, Ann.

For many individual names there were different alternative names or nicknames for example Judith was used for Johanna and Sally for Sarah in my family.

In some records the given name is in Latin. I came across this in the records listed at Irish Genealogy and almost missed some records not recognizing them as in Latin eg Patritio for Patrick and Joannis for John.