Thursday, December 22, 2011

Celtic Surnames "For the Tongue of the Gael" by Tomas O Flannghaile, 1896


Celtic Surnames

"For the Tongue of the Gael" by Tomas O Flannghaile, 1896

WHILE it is only too true that Ireland, Scotland, and Wales have all during the last 300 years suffered a certain amount of anglicising—in blood, in language, in manners and customs, and in ways of thinking—it may be asked, is this a statement of the whole case? Has not the process been checked in various ways and at various times? And further, has no counter current set in—has there been no movement in an opposite direction? As a matter of fact, many observers have noted such a movement. Some years ago, in an early number of the Revue Celtique of Paris, M. Gaidoz the editor expressed his belief that while, no doubt, the Celtic countries had been anglicised to a considerable extent, the process was on the wane, and that for the last couple of hundred years there had actually been going on at the same time a gradual re-celticising of Britain, and even of England. This, he maintained, was shown partly by the steady growth and spread of Celtic surnames in England, but only partly in this way, the re-celticising in blood being much more widespread than family names would indicate, owing to the long-prevailing tendency to anglicise Celtic names by translation, abbreviation, or other mode of corruption.

If this be so, Celts may well feel some gratification at the fact, and may look upon it as some measure of compensation for their partial displacement in their own countries. There is, of course, a great difference between the two processes, while the anglicising has been enforced and of set purpose, the re-celticising (of England and of Britain generally) has been going on silently and unconsciously. But of the reality of this latter process there can be no doubt. For the last two hundred years, and especially within the present century, owing to migrations and emigrations, there has been a steady influx of Celtic families from Wales, Scotland, and Ireland into England; and at this day, if it could be plainly demonstrated that half the people of England were Celtic in blood, the fact would not be and should not be strange. And if Celtic ideas are now stirring men's hearts and minds in England, if Celtic aspirations are listened to with respect, who will deny that such a hopeful state of things is due quite as much to this strong infusion of warm, generous Celtic blood, as to the vigorous protests of the Celts themselves in their own homes, combined with the subtler influences of Celtic literature, music and art?

The extent of this Celtic element in England is evidenced in some measure, doubtless, by the increasing number of Celtic surnames to be found in the country, but, as pointed out by Henri Gaidoz, this is not by any means the full measure of its extent; for not only is the temptation to assimilate a decidedly Celtic name to an English one all the greater when the owner of it comes to England, but a great number of such names had already undergone considerable change in their original home. Hence there are far more men of Celtic blood than there are Celtic names, many of these latter having become anglicised beyond all hope of recognition. In some of these cases, no doubt, self-interest has induced not merely a change of name, but also a change of feeling and sympathy, and a forgetting of old ties. But after all, blood is thicker than water, and kinship counts for something still. And considering all things, it is wonderful how distinctive most Celtic names have kept themselves, and how comparatively easy they are to recognise, even in the most un-Celtic parts of Saxon-land.

Though the great bulk of these surnames have had an Irish, Scottish, or Welsh origin, a considerable number have come also from Cornwall, the Isle of Man, Brittany, and the other more Celtic parts of Northern France. These last—the Breton and other Franco-Celtic names—are probably the hardest to trace and recognise now, as they have been longest in the country; but they are probably also the fewest in number. In the Western half of England—say west of a line drawn from Berwick to the Isle of Wight, and including especially Cumberland, Westmoreland, Lancashire, all Wales, the border counties, Cheshire, Shropshire, Hereford, and Monmouth, with Gloucester, Somerset, Devonshire, and Cornwall—it is generally admitted that Celtic blood predominates, and Celtic surnames, though often much disguised, are in one form or another the majority. But far beyond these limits, into the easternmost counties and the remotest parishes, Celtic surnames have found their way.

Many Cornish names, restricted though their original seat is, have spread into the southern and south-eastern parts of England. 'By Tre, Pol, and Pen you'll know Cornish men,' says the old rhyme, and the saying is illustrated by such well-known names as Trevelyan, Trelawney, Treherne, Trevor, Polwhele, Pentreath, Pendennis, &c. But though these are all Celtic words, they are not originally patronymics but place-names, which from denoting at first merely residences or estates of their owners, afterwards became family names. Tre is the Welsh tre or tref (home, hamlet), Irish treabh (house, family, tribe), Latin tribus, English thorp; pol is the Welsh pwll, Irish poll (a hole, pit, pool); pen is the Welsh pen (a head, end, hill), and O. Irish cenn now ceann (head, headland), and also beinn (a hill, a summit). Such English surnames as Preston, Stafford, Darbyshire, Oldham, Birmingham, Kent, Hull, and the like are examples of the same sort. It will thus be seen that Cornish names—at least this class—are entirely different not only from Irish surnames, which are always patronymics, but even from the generality of Welsh names, which are mostly patronymics, and but rarely place-names. This is all the stranger from the proximity of the Welsh and Cornish peoples and the very slight difference there is between the Welsh and Cornish languages. The reason appears to be that Cornwall, from its smaller area and more isolated position, was more thoroughly Normanised in its name-system than Wales ever was or could be—the custom of naming or styling a man from the place he belonged to (or that belonged to him) being more Norman than either Celtic or English. It is also true that when the Tre-, Pol-, and Pen-names came to be fixed as surnames, many of those who bore them were not the native or Celtic Cornish at all, but Normans or English who had become the landholders of the country. So that it should be remembered that though, such names are Celtic, they do not always indicate families of Celtic blood. While, however, these are the better known Cornish names, there are numerous families still in Cornwall and Devonshire whose names are not taken from places, but, like the Welsh and Irish, are really patronymics—that is, names indicating a father or ancestor; as the Vyvyans, Oliphants, Kennalls, Jenners, Keigwins, Scawens, and others, and these are generally the most purely Celtic, both in name and blood.

Welsh family names are generally easy to recognise, but in many cases they have suffered assimilation to English forms and are often ignorantly mistaken for English names. Such names as Tudor, Gwynn (Wynn) Morgan, Meredith, Owen, Griffith, Rhys (Rees, Rice) Lloyd, Howell, Evan, Vaughan, and Craddock—even in the English spelling which most of them have assumed—are of course unmistakable, but now they are found in all parts of England. The last mentioned—Craddock—if not one of the most distinguished, is certainly one of the most ancient of them, for it is but the English spelling of Caradoc (accent on the second syllable) a later form of Caratauc which represents Caratacus (corruptly 'Caractacus') the name of the British warrior who fought so valiantly against the Romans. The Irish had the same name Cárthach whence MacCarthaigh or 'McCarthy'; hence Welsh 'Craddock' equals Irish 'Carthy.' At the beginning of the Christian era the Irish form was most probably *Carathachas.

Then we find these and other names with the sign of the English genitive added on, as Owens, Griffiths, Evans, Maddox (i.e., Maddocks from Madoc), &c. Those also are numerous that contain a trace of the Ap found in Welsh mediaeval names and genealogies, representing the older map (now mab), a son; as Preece, Pryce, Price (for Ap Rhys, i.e., Map Rhys, son of Rhys), Powell and Pole (Ap Hoel Ap Hywel), Pugh (for Ap Hugh); and such Norman-Welshnames as Prichard (ApRichard), Probert (Ap Robert), Probyn (Ap Robin) Penry (Ap Henry) Parry, (Ap Harry). Some show a trace of the weakened form. Ab (for mab), as Bowen (Ab Owen—though of course all the Bowens are not Welsh) Bevan (Ab Evan) Bethell, (Ab Ithell), &c. Then come the later and far more numerous sort consisting mostly of Biblical, Norman, or Saxon names generally with the English genitive s added on, as Davis (Davies) Daniels, Peters, Jones (John's) Williams, Roberts, Edwards, Hughes, &c., &c. But though these non-Celtic names generally denote Celtic families, they do not necessarily indicate a Welsh orign, and many of them are pure English.

More numerous still must be the Highland names in England. Scottish surnames began to appear in South Britain to any noticeable extent at the coming of the Stuarts to the English throne, at the beginning of the XVIIth century; but in that century the Scottish families that settled in England were Lowland rather than Highland. It was in the eighteenth century after the final defeat of the Stuart cause that the great migration of Scottish Highland familes to the south began to set in, and in the present century it has continued at an increased rate. At first there was of course a great temptation amongst Highlanders to anglicise their Celtic names—to assimilate them in some measure to those of the people amongst whom they came to dwell; for in the last century, the Highlander—like the Irishman—was an object of bitter hostility to the English people, and even in the early part of this century had to suffer much from ignorant prejudice. But the strong arms and keen wits of the Scottish Celts proved extremely valuable to the English, and self-interest at length overcame their prejudices. Hence it is, that though a great number of Highland names have put on English forms the majority still are plainly Celtic, and any further tendency to anglicise them is now hardly noticeable.

Of course a great many families had already anglicised their names in Scotland before they came to England at all, so that their names proved no inconvenience to them. Various have been the changes which Scottish surnames have undergone both in their own country and in England. The most obvious change was to drop the distinguishing prefix Mac, and this is probably the most common; hence Donald, Murray, Innes (Ince), Millan, Murdoch, Hay, Baird (for Mac-a' Bhaird), and the numerous Gil-names as Grilchrist, Gillies, Gilmore, Gilroy, &c., all of which have lost the Mac. Many retained the Mac, but incorporated it with the rest of the name; hence Macintosh, Macadam, Macaulay, Mackenzie, Macmillan, Mackay (Mackie), Maclachlan, Mackinnon, Mackonochie, and others, which are all written now without any sign of division. Perhaps there are but few cases like Allmack, where the syllables of the name were transposed—the well-known "Allmack's," in London, having been started by a Highlander, whose original name was MacCall or MacAll.

In a great many cases, however, the prefix, instead of being dropped or incorporated, was translated, and its equivalent son was added on to the name, after a very common English analogy. This was done even with pure Gaelic names as Fergus-son (for Mac Feargusa), Donald-son (for Mac Domhnaill), Malcolm-son, Neil-son, Nel-son (Neill-son for Mac Neill); whilst with names not purely Celtic it became still more common, as Davidson (for Mac Dáibhidh), Robertson, Anderson, Nicholson, &c. It is obvious that some of these cannot be distinguished from English names, and, no doubt, many such—in England at least—are pure English. Many Highland families, on settling in the Lowlands or in England, dropped their older names and adopted others derived from the name of some recent ancestor; hence it is, many pure Gaelic clans are now known by such un-Celtic names as Robertson, Davidson, Allanson, &c. The converse, however, of this, namely, the reverting to an older name, does not appear to have occurred—at least, it is very rare.

Some Highland names do not appear ever to have had the Mac—as Cameron (Camshróin), Campbell (Caimbeul), Riach (Riabhach), Cattanach, &c. Some Scottish names are obviously place-names, as Sutherland, Ross,[1] Stirling, Drummond, Blair, Dunbar, Chisholm—some of them Celtic, others not. Of this class are the well-known names Buchan and Mar, denoting originally districts in Aberdeenshire—Buchan the 'little' (division), and Mar the 'great.' They are Celtic, but not Gaelic; they are, in fact, Pictish or early North British, and are amongst the very oldest place-names in Scotland. The Welsh forms, even at this day, are wonderfully like them—bychan (little) and mawr (great); Old Irish, becán and már, now beágan and mór. Several surnames of this class are compounded of Dál (a division, then a tribe), as Dalgairns, Dalgleish, Dalbeattie, Dalhousie, Dalmeny, &c. They were originally territorial names, then tribe names, then place names, lastly, family names. They correspond to the old Irish territorial and tribe-names, Dalriada (Co. Antrim), Dal gCais (Co. Clare), and others, but these never became surnames in Ireland. Surnames derived from occupation also occur as Gobha, Ceard, Liaigh, and Maor, which were either preserved with English spelling—Gow, Caird, Lee, Wear, or Weir (for Mac a-Mhaoir)—or translated, as Gobha into 'Smith,' Maor into 'Steward,' Stewart or Stuart, the latter name itself being, no doubt, Anglo-Saxon. Lastly, some Highland names appear to be derived from sobriquets like the English Black, White, Grey, Brown, Little, Long, Short, &c. Of this class are Duff (Dubh, black), Bane, Bain, Banes (Bán, white, fair), More, Moore, Moir, Muir, (Mór, big or tall), Begg (Beag, little), Roe, Wroe (Ruadh, red, ruddy), some of which have been translated into Black, Phayre (Fair), Little, &c.

Irish names in England are mostly the growth of the present century. Few Irishmen came to England in the last century, and those who did were mostly Anglo-Irish of the Pale—fewer still, of course, came in the seventeenth century. When the national life of Ireland was destroyed by the Union, and Irish lords and gentlemen had to make London their chief resort instead of Dublin, they led the way for a somewhat extensive exodus of Irish families to England. The rise of manufactures in the northern English towns led to a further immigration of Irish Celts, and the flow still continues, though it is but small in proportion to the stream that pours westward into the United States. And if Irish names had lost much of their Celtic form and flavour before they appeared in England at all, the tendency to a still further assimilation to English names was now all the greater.

But, in fact, our Irish surnames had already begun to lose much of their distinctive character in Ireland itself. The old rule commemorated in the lines:

"By Mac and O you'll always know
True Irishmen, they say"—

no longer held good—even in the limited sense of the expression "true Irishmen," that is, Irishmen of the old race—the Clanna Gaedheal. (Happily "true Irishmen" in the best sense of the word are not unknown among some also of the newer races found in Ireland—though, mobhron, they are far too few!) It was true enough, no doubt, till the end of the seventeenth century, but in the course of the eighteenth a great change had taken place. An O or a Mac to a man's name was no recommendation to him in the eyes of the powers that then ruled the country. The people were taught or forced to believe that they must have an English name or an English form to their name, no matter what the Irish form was. Hence the wholesale suppression or discontinuance of the Milesian prefixes Mac and O. Attorneys, attorneys' clerks, process servers, and such like supporters and expounders of British law, had much to do with the corruption of our family names and the stereotyping of the corrupt forms. But, indeed, to modify one's name in some degree was almost a condition of life. Ignorance, too,—the result of want of education—in many cases drove the tradition of their name and origin out of men's minds, so much so, that of a person who had retained, or had resumed the O to his name, many would ask (and the foolish question is still sometimes heard) "Who gave him the O? Where did he get the O?"[2]. And to such a degree have many of our names been "translated" or burlesqued into English, that some of our people are led by their un-Irish names to think that, like others around them, they too are Cromwellians or Williamites, when really they are of the ancient and noble stock of the Clanna Gaedheal.

All our surnames in their Irish forms have an O or Mac, but the former seems to have been preferred—certainly the O's are by far the more numerous, being in their native forms in the proportion of three or even four to one of the Macs. Whilst there are Macs in all the provinces, they are most numerous in the north where they appear to prevail even over the O's. Some might explain this by the accession of modern Scottish names at the time of the Stuart plantations. But a good deal of this Scottish infusion was Lowland rather than Highland; moreover, long before those plantations and in the days of Ulster's independence, the Macs appear to have been more numerous than the O's, though certainly the O'Neills and O'Donnells held the sway for power and authority. Why the Macs almost exclusively prevail in the Highlands is probably because the Irish ancestors of the Scottish Gael had left Dalriada (Co. Antrim) at a time when this mode of forming patronymics was the general practice all over Ireland, and long before the other form had begun to prevail.

But after the eleventh century, or thereabouts, the O began to prevail more than the Mac, and thus, in course of time, the O-names became more distinctively Irish than those beginning with Mac; and it is therefore little wonder if in the eighteenth century when war was made on everything Irish our family names suffered wholesale change. Suppression, ignorance, voluntary disuse—from one or other of these causes it has happened that those who have retained the O in the English forms of their names are but a small minority of those to whose names it really belongs; and as the Mac was not so distinctively Irish, and could be more easily incorporated with the rest of the name, it arises also that in any considerable list of Irish names the Macs now are more numerous than the O's, though even those that preserved the Mac are but a small proportion of the names that should have it. Occasionally of course in a limited number of names the O's may predominate, while occasionally, too, a number of Irishmen may meet not one of whom is an O or a Mac, in the anglicised form of his name. Now, however, that times are altered, it is much to be desired and, indeed, may be hoped, that Irishmen will resume the fuller and more distinctive forms of their fine old names.

Rarely indeed have any of our family names retained their Irish spelling in English. O'Neill and MacNeill are perhaps the solitary instances—these are absolutely the same in English and Irish. Doubtless their shortness and simplicity of form helped to preserve them. There are some, however, in which very little change has occurred—as O'Brien (Ir. O Briain), O'Connell (better with one n—the Irish being O Conaill), O'Grady (for O Grada, O'Gara (Ir. O Gadhra), O'Clery (Ir. O Clérigh or O Cléirigh), O'Beirne (where the final e is quite useless, the Ir. being O Beirn or O Birn); so MacCormac (for MacCormaic), MacColl (for MacColla), MacArtan—sometimes spelt with an unnecessary C, MacCartan (for MacArtain), &c. And it is to be noticed that with certain names, especially those ending in-an (anglice)—when they have dropped the O and the genitive inflection they at once assume the original Irish forms—at least the forms they had a thousand years ago—and become in each case identical with the name of the ancestor from whom the family was called: as Ronan (for O Rónáin), Scannlan (for O Scannláin), Branagan (for O Branagáin), Corcoran (for O Corcoráin), &c. Persons therefore bearing these names thus shortened might in future ages at least be confounded with their ancestors, and names which are now merely patronymic and hereditary, might be mistaken for the significant names they were once.

The longer names, however, have, in most cases—though they may have retained the O or Mac—suffered a wholesale suppression of consonants, and the anglicised forms are in general but feeble and flabby representatives of the vigorous and sonorous names they were once, and are still in their true Irish forms. Such are O'Conor (for O Conchubhair), MacMahon (for Mac-Mathghamhna), O'Feely (for O Fithcheallaigh), O'Hurley (generally for O H-Iarfhlaithe, though sometimes it represents other names), O'Reilly (for O Raghallaigh), Aherne (for O h-Eichthighearn), &c., &c. Either our organs of speech have deteriorated during the late centuries, and we are therefore unable to pronounce our names as once we could, or what is more likely, having forgotten how to spell our names correctly, we were too easily satisfied with the way petty officials of all sorts spelt them for us.

It is strange that though the method of designating men by reference to their father is certainly older in Ireland than the designation by reference to a grandfather or remoter ancestor, yet the O appears rarely, if ever, to have been joined with a non-Celtic name, whereas Mac was freely prefixed to many foreign names. The only doubtful instance of the former sort is O Conaing, which has been anglicised 'O'Gunning ' and 'Gunning,' but has sometimes been corrupted into the better known name 'O'Connell,' and is probably the original of some of the northern Irish 'Cannings' and 'Cannons.' Conaing is now generally considered Norse, and is equated with king: the Norse word is certainly found in such place names in England and Scotland as Conyngham, Coningsby, Conington, Cunningham, &c.—names which are equivalent to 'King's home,' 'King's town,' and the like. If the name in O Conaing be this Norse word, then possibly we may have others, but certainly they will be very few. The name, after all, may yet be proved to be pure Celtic with a different meaning altogether from that of the Norse word with which it is now generally identified.[3]

But as for the Mac, it is found joined to all sorts of foreign names, almost as easily, but, of course, not near so plentifully as to Celtic names.—Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Danish, Norman, and Welsh. To Hebrew names as in MacThomas, MacComas (the Th being lost), MacParlan, MacFarlane (for MacPartholáin, i.e., MacBartholom-aeus.) Very strange is the junction of the western mac with some decidedly eastern names, as in MacDavid (also MacDavitt, MacDevitt, and MacDaid), MacSimon (anglicised Fitzsimons, Simmons, and Simson). Even MacIsaac is found in Scotland and in the Isle of Man, in which latter place it is sometimes shortened and corrupted into 'Kissack'; and, of course, we are all familiar with the Highland MacAdam. It is found with Greek names in MacAndrew (for MacAindreis), MacNicholas (MacNioclais), MacNicholl (MacNiocoil), MacGregor (MacGriogora), and others. With Latin names, as in MacManus (for MacMaghnusa from Magnus), MacConsidine, and Considine without the Mac (from Constantin-us), MacRealey, Magrealey, and Grealey (for MacRiaghla, from Riaghal, i.e., Regulus), and several others. These Latin, Greek, and Hebrew names—many of them Biblical—might have been borne either by Celts or foreigners; but as most of them go back to the first ages of Christianity in Ireland, they generally denote families of Celtic origin. Many families of Danish origin show this by their name, as the MacAuliffes (from MacAmhlaoibh, i.e., son of Amlaf or Aulaf), the MacHammonds and MacCammonds (from MacAmaind), the MacOtters and 'Cotters (MacOtair) and others; yet, it must not be forgotten that after a while Amhlaoibh, Amand, Otar, &c, came to be used also by Celtic families, and therefore in some cases the only thing Danish about such people would be their names.

Many Norman families assumed the Mac having given up the style and title of Norman barons and adopted those of Irish chiefs. Hence we have MacWilliam, MacHenry, MacWalter—which in the Isle of Man became shortened to Qualter and QualtersMacFheorais, shortened to 'Corish' and 'Coriss' from Feoras, a weakened form of Peoras or Piaras, i.e., Piers or Pierce, in modern French Pierre; MacRicard and Crickard, which latter may be compared with the Welsh-Norman Prichard. The Norman Fitz became Mac in Irish; hence Fitzgerald became MacGearailt, while from Gerauld or Geraud came the Christian name Gearóid, sometimes anglicised 'Garrett'; Fitzgibbon became MacGiobúin, Fitzmaurice MacMuiris, &c. Of names originally Welsh, MacHale (for Mac Heil, i.e., MacHoel from Howell or Hywell), and MacArthur are instances, but there are others not so well known. No purely English names appear to have taken the Mac—any that may seem to be English, being really Danish or Norman.

While the Mac, both in Highland and Irish names, has often become incorporated, the O has generally resisted this. The name Ogilvie is an exception, but even this was formerly written O'Gilvie, and is sometimes found thus written yet. It is said also to be the solitary instance of a Highland O, but, perhaps, if we looked closely, we should find others. In at least one northern Irish name the O has become incorporated into the body of the surname, and changed into an A, viz., 'O'Gnimh,' which was once anglicised 'O'Gneeve,' but now mostly 'Agnew.' In the North the O is pronounced very short and obscure, and this makes the corruption or suppression all the easier. What the O was—what it really meant—used to exercise many foreigners and even some Irishmen greatly, and even yet, though its meaning in Irish is thoroughly known, men are not agreed as to what its true Aryan analogues are. But it is no abbreviation—no preposition—it is like Mac, a full substantive. It is only the modern form of a word which was formerly spelt ua (still so spelt in its literal sense) signifying at first a grandson, and then any remote descendant, as O'Briain (O'Brien), descendant of Brian. In old Irish the word was aue, which would represent a prehistoric Irish *auas or *avas. Now if *auas had lost an initial p—as is the case with many of our Irish words that now begin with a vowel or a liquid—as Ir. athair (father) for *p-athair, iasc (fish) for *p-iasc, lan (full) for *p-lán, etc., we could infer an original *p-auas which might be compared with the Latin puer, poir, and the Greek pais (a boy, a son).

This is just the identification some have made, but others, supposing a reversal of meaning, equate aue (perhaps less reasonably) with the Latin avus, a grandfather.[4]

While the O has generally resisted incorporation the Mac admits of it easily enough—as in such names as Macreary (MacRiaraidhe), Macready (MacRiada), Maclernan (MacGiolla-Earnáin), which may be compared with the more distinctively Scottish names, Macintosh (Mac-an-toisich), Maclean (MacGill'Iain), Macaulay (MacAmhalghaidh), &c. This incorporation is most general with the northern Macs, and is especially the case when the ancestral name begins with a vowel, and the c of Mac has become flattened to g; as in the names Magee (Mag Aoidh for Mac Aoídh), Maguire (Mag Uidhir for Mac Uidhir=son of Odhar), Magauley=Mac Aulay, Maguinness and Magennis (for Mag Aonghusa), Mageraghty (Mag Oireachtaigh), Magough (Mag Eachach), Magurk, Magirk (Mag Eirc), &c. This change of mac to mag, analogous to the change of Welsh map to mab, occurred also sometimes before F, which when aspirated disappeared in the pronunciation, and hence dropped out of the English spelling; as in Maginn (i.e., Mag Fhinn), Maglynn (i.e., Mag Fhloinn); occasionally also before l, n, r, as Maglonan, Maglennon, Magnoud or McGnoud (i.e., Mag Nuadhad), Magroarty (Mag Robhartaigh), Magrannell (Mag Raghnaill).

Sometimes before names beginning in Irish with S, this flattening of the c to g occurred, and here again the S sometimes disappeared in the English spelling, as in Magibney, Magivney (for Mag Shuibhne), Magovern, McGovern, Magauran (for Mag Shamhradhain). As if these were still too Irish, many have discarded the first syllable Ma but retained the g, hence such names as Gee, Gough, Guinness, Glynn, Geoghegan, Gauran, Grannell, &c., &c. The flattening of Mac into Mag had already begun in Irish, for Mag Uidhir, Mag Aonghusa, Mag Eochagáin have been recognised Irish forms for some four hundred years. As said above, however, the change is almost peculiar to the northern Irish names—the Mac being preserved pure in other parts of Ireland, and apparently also in Scotland.

All the Giolla-names are Macs, but most of them have rejected the Mac in the anglicised forms. Irish giolla, a servant, Scottish gille, hence 'gillie,' assumes the forms Gil- Guil- and Kil- in the English spelling; as Gildea (Mac Giolla-De), Gilchrist (Mac Giolla-Chríost), Gillies, Gilles (Mac Giolla-Iosa), Gilmore (Mac Giolla-Muire). Names formed from Giolla, followed by a saint's name, were very popular in mediaeval Ireland, as Giolla-Pádraic, 'servant of St. Patrick;' Giolla-Eoin, 'servant of St. John;' Giolla-Brighde, 'servant of Brigit,' &c. Most of them gave rise to surnames beginning with Mac. Guilfoyle is Giolla-Phoil, 'servant of (St.) Paul.' Some of these surnames begin in English with Kil—assuming then the form of place-names (kill, i.e. cill=cella, a church), but they are not place-names, the Kil- being but a hardening of Gil-(giolla), arising from the c of Mac which has been rejected. 'Kilbride,' therefore, is for Mac Giolla-Brighde, 'Kilpatrick' for Mac Giolla Padraic, Kilmartin = Gilmartin, Kilkelly=Gilkelly=Mac Giolla-Ceallaigh, &c., &c. Sometimes the Gil- or Kil- is rejected, and the Mac retained, as in Mac Bride for Mac Giolla-Brighde. In a few of these names the giolla is not joined to a saint's name, and then it has the older meaning of boy, youth, as Gilrea (Giolla-riabhach), Gilroy (Giolla-ruadh), and some others.

Maol was another word much used in name-making. But there are probably three different words so spelt in Irish: (1) Maol, a lord or chief, which is the rarest of the three meanings; (2) Maol, bald, shaven, tonsured; and (3) Maol, a servant. The last two are generally considered the same, but this is doubtful. They are anglicised variously, mal- mel- mol- and mul; as Malcolm (Maol-Coluim, disciple or servant of St. Columkill); Malone=Maol-Eoin, servant of St. John; Meldon =Maol-dúin=lord of the Dun or fort—also Muldoon; Molloy (=Maol-muaidh=lord-of-honour). They are however mostly found under the form Mul, as in Mulready, (Maol-Riada), Mulrenin, Mulrenan (Maol-Bhréanainn, disciple of St. Brendan), Mullooley (=Maol-umhla), `servant of humility.' All of these are O-names, at least in Ireland, and, strange enough, few of this class appear to survive in Scotland, among the best known being Malcolm (Maol Caluim) and Mellis or Mellish (Maol-Iosa.)

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Note:- [3] Since writing the above, however, I have come to the conclusion that not only O Conaing (whence 'O Conning,' `Gunning' and occasionally 'Canning') but O Bruadair (whence 'O Broder' and `Broderick' i.e., Bruadarach) and O Cionga (anglicised 'King') are non-Celtic names—probably Norse—which have assumed the O. There may be others.

Note:- [4] It is clear, however, that as the O is no abbreviation but a full and complete word, there is no sense in the apostrophe which is so generally used in the English spelling of Irish names, and sometimes also in the Irish forms. The apostrophe is from English analogy and is very modern, Neither is there any reason for writing the O as a capital letter, unless at the beginning of a sentence.

Many Irish names began with , a hound, figuratively a hero. These all took Mac, with apparently one exception, which took the O, namely, Cú-cheanann, which gave rise to the surname O Conceanainn, anglicised 'Concannon,' and sometimes even 'Cannon.' In all the names of this class the Cu under the government of O or Mac, took the genitive form Con, which is preserved in most of these names in their English form, as Conway (Mac Con-bhuadha, sometimes also for Mac Con-mhaighe) Conmee, or Conmey (Mac Con-Midhe), Confrey (Mac Confraoich), Conroy (Mac Con-raoi), &c. Some of them have retained the Mac and suppressed the Con; but have put in a syllable 'na,' which does not occur in the Irish; as Macnamee (for MacConMidhe), Macnamara (for Mac Con-mara), from Cu-mara, sea-hound, shark—figuratively a pirate —identical with Murchú, (Welsh Morgi,) with the syllables transposed.

Irish names which begin in their English form with H, as Hogan, Healey, Hennessy, Hayes, &c., take the O in Irish; the H being a euphonic letter thrown in between the O and the vowel of the ancestral name. Hogan =Ir. O h-Ógain, Healey = O h-Éiligh, Hennessy = O h-Aonghusa, Hayes =O h-Aodha; also Englished 'O'Hea,' 'O'Hay/ and 'Hay.' Whilst the greater part of our Irish surnames have no doubt retained some trace of their Celtic origin, a good number also have lost every sign of their Celtic nature by 'translation,' half-translation, and mis-translation; so that they are often cited as evidence of English origin. How often do we find Irish families with such names as 'Fox' and 'Cox' and 'Wood' and 'Ford' and 'Smith' and 'White'—names which would lead strangers, and do sometimes lead their owners themselves, to think they are of English race! Not of course that there are not many families of English name and origin in Ireland; but there are hundreds of families who bear such names who are well known to be pure Irish, and who themselves are well aware that their names are but translations, or quasi-translations of their Irish names. Others have not been translated at all; but assimilated to something of like sound in English, and in their new form look quite Saxon—as when 'Hardiman,' 'Harrington,' 'Sexton,' 'Hart,' 'Ward' are made out of such Irish names as ó h-Eireamhoin, O h-Aireachtáin, O Seascnain, O h-Airt, and Mac-an-Bháird.

So much for our surnames. If havoc has been played with them in the course of a century or two, still greater havoc has been made with our Christian names. Mr. Laurence Ginnell, in his interesting article in a late number of the New Ireland Review, has pointed out that the Highlanders have preserved their Celtic Christian names much better than we have preserved ours. Even when their surnames may have changed, still we find such markedly Gaelic Christian names as Angus and Malcolm and Duncan and Murdoch and Kenneth and Donald quite popular amongst them, and sometimes even in Lowland families. Of thousands of Celtic Christian names current amongst us, so late even as a couple of centuries ago, scarce half a hundred survive: among the most usual being Brian, Colman, Donagh (Ir. Donnchadh, Scottish 'Duncan') Felim, Fergus, Finnian (Ir. Finnghin), Fintan, Kieran (Ciarán), Kevin (Ir. Caoimhghin) Jarlath (for Iarfhlaith), Mogue (Maodhóg), Murtagh (Muircheartach), Neill (for Niall), Owen (Eoghan), and Theigue (for Tadhg). And most of these are very rare. No doubt a great many more are used in Irish, but they are generally Englished by some travesty, as when Diarmuid ('Dermod,' 'Dermot') is rendered by 'Jeremiah,' or 'Darby,' Domhnall ('Donald') by `Daniel,' Conchubhar (' Conor ') by 'Cornelius,' Cathal ('Cahal') by 'Charles,' Flaithri by 'Florence,' Maol-Mhuire by 'Miles', 'Myles,' &c.

Mr. Ginnell's explanation of the rise of these names is probably the true one in a great many cases. They are the product chiefly of the eighteenth century—the century of the penal laws. At that time, the Catholic clergy were educated mostly abroad, and knowing little of Irish history, civil or ecclesiastical, when they were called on to christen the children, they generally gave some Biblical name or some foreign name with which they themselves were familiar, satisfied if it had any distant resemblance at all to the native names: so 'Daniel' was given in preference to Domhnall, 'Jeremias' to Diarmuid, 'Thomas' to Tomaltach, &c. But at all times there seems to have been a great desire on the part of the Gaedhil for 'translating' their native names into well-known Latin and Greek forms—as Aonghus (not into 'Aengusius' but) into Aeneas, Conn (not into 'Connus' but) into Quintus, Flann (not into 'Flannus ' but) Florentius, &c.

What with the denial of all education in the eighteenth century, and the un-Irish 'National' education on the one hand, and the 'Superior English education' on the other in the nineteenth century, little wonder if our people knew no Irish history, had forgotten that their land was once the "Isle of Saints," and were no longer familiar with their beautiful and pious and heroic old names. We have, of course, countless Patricks and Brigits and Michaels, but our ancestors did not confine themselves to a few names. And though, indeed, they honoured and venerated their saints, it does not appear that they often gave a saint's name directly to a child as the custom is now. They rather preferred—probably on account of their great reverence for the saints—not Patrick, or Brigit, or Colum, or Brendan, but 'Giolla-Pádraic,' 'servant of Patrick,' 'Maol-Coluim,' 'disciple of Colum,' Ceile-Peadair, 'servant of Peter,' &c.

Some think our native names long to write and difficult to pronounce, but though many, no doubt, are of "learned length and thundering sound," we have also many which are very short, very simple, and very euphonious—many that have not so much as one aspirated letter in them. Such are the monosyllabic names Art, Bran, Breas, Brian, Conn, Donn, Fionn. Flann, Niall, Treun, and dozens of others; and the dissyllabic names Ardán, Artán, Anluan, Breasal, Cairbre, Bréanainn, Colla, Earárd, Diaclán, Eunna, Guaire, Fearnán, Mórna and Tórna, Lorcán and Morán, and Rónan, and Niallán, and very many more. Nor are these merely pagan names, for numberless priests and bishops and saints of Erin bore those names in the ages of most faith and piety.

And of the hundreds upon hundreds of women's names once prevalent in Ireland, hardly a dozen pure Celtic names have been carried into English use; though no doubt many are used in speaking Irish which are always rendered in English by 'equivalents.'

Of the few pure Irish names for women still used are Brigit (sometimes shortened to 'Bride,' from the modern Irish Brighid, where the aspirated g is silent): Eveleen or Eileen. (Eibhlín—sometimes used for 'Ellen' and 'Helen'), Gráinne (sometimes used for 'Grace'), Nuala for Fionnghuala, 'Finola' lit. 'Fair-shoulder,' Sauve or Sive (Sadhbh used for 'Sabia,' 'Sabina,' and even 'Sarah'); Sheela (Sidhle, also used for 'Julia'); Sorcha ('Sarah' and 'Clara'), and perhaps Una, anglicised 'Oona,' 'Winny' and 'Winifred.'

Some generally considered Irish, as 'Kathleen' and 'Nora,' are really not so—the former being the English spelling of Caitilín, a late Irish form of Caitrín or Caitríona, that is, the Greek Katharina or Catherine The Spanish also has two forms of the same name—Catarina and Catalina. 'Nora' was formerly Onóra, from the Latin Honora or Honoria, 'the honourable' or 'honoured': it is sometimes Englished 'Honor.'

And Mór, the 'Great,' and Grian, the 'Sunny,' and Niamh, the 'Splendid,' and Aille, 'Beauty,' and Binne, 'Melody,' and Eithne, 'Knowledge,' and Gorm, the 'Blue-eyed,' and Bláthnaid, 'Floweret,' and Eimear, the 'Gentle,' and Meadhbh, the 'Tender,' and Scoithin, 'Little-Blossom,' and Muireann, the 'Sea-white,' and Múirne, 'Affection,' and Aoibhínn, the 'Delightful'—such were some of the names borne in the days of Erin's prime by the fair daughters of the chiefs and princes of the Gael.


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