Thursday 9 July 2020

How common were your Irish ancestors' first names?

I'm playing catch up here, having meant to blog last week about the latest developments on genealogist John Grenham's Irish Ancestors website. The most recent is a wonderful widget that maps the incidence of forenames appearing in the civil registration records of births from 1864 to 1913.  You can see an example, below, that maps the name of Timothy across Ireland during those years.

The first name TIMOTHY, as mapped from civil birth registrations
from 1864 to 1913. Image courtesy of
Timothy is a big name in my own family history, with a brother, grandfather and great great grandfather carrying the name on my father's line, all County Cork based. Beyond its origins as a name, I'd never thought much about it, accepting it as a pretty common first name across much of the island. Sure enough, John's forename map shows it as a reasonably popular name outside the northern third, with around 30,000 infant boys given the name during the period.

But I was surprised to see Timothy identifying as such a strong southwest name. Cork and Kerry just love Timothy!

The top six areas to show that love are Cork City, Killarney, Macroom, Tralee, Kanturk and Skibbereen, together accounting for more than a third of all Timothy registrations.

Cork City alone counts for 3,470 of them!

The forenames tool is free to use. See John's blogpost Mary John Mary John Mary John before you do so; you'll then understand why you can't get any results for the likes of Mary, John, Ellen, Bridget, Patrick and some of the other names that appear with such frequency is most Irish researcher's trees.

The week before the Mary John blogpost, John blogged about the transcriptions of two County Longford religious censuses carried out by researcher John McDonald Pepper. They are for the parishes of Granard (1834) and Streete (1856).

Both are available, free to all researchers, as pdf downloads from John Grenham's blogpost 'The Kindness of Strangers'.