Archiver > IRISH-IN-CHICAGO > 2005-09 > 1127097484

From: dan hogan <>
Subject: Fwd: Spelling Irish of names.
Date: Sun, 18 Sep 2005 19:38:04 -0700 (PDT)

From the Tipperary list.
Dan Hogan

> Hello
> Time I rolled out my semi-regular posting on
> spelling of first names,
> Christian names, and surnames. The usual
> apologies to those who have heard it all before.
> Mick Dowling
> -----------------------------------------------
> "The whole issue of the spelling and pronunciation
> of names is in this day
> and age a very precise business, but 200 years ago
> the opposite could have
> been said. The following is a collage of several
> relevant messages recently
> posted to the rootsweb Co.Tipperary lists, by
> Richard Callanan and myself.
> The first time the average person would have their
> name recorded anywhere
> was a Baptism or Marriage record, and these records
> are generally the
> earliest available to search.
> Baptism and Marriage records.
> First names. In early Church records the Gaelic
> first names were spelt in
> the Latin equivalent, or what the Priest decided was
> the equivalent,
> additionally the name had to be that of a recognised
> saint, i.e. 'a
> Christian name'. For example Sean became John,
> Liam/William, Eamon/Edward,
> Siobhan/Johanna, Mairead/Margaret, Maire/Mary.
> The following is an example of first
> name variations.
> "The registers may well show names the people
> themselves never used. I have
> a plethora of "Cornelius" entries which I am sure
> were properly the
> traditional Irish "Connor" "Conor" or "Conn". The
> registering priest's
> requirement was not only to latinise the name but to
> make it a recognisable
> Saint. The most obvious distortion here is "Honoria"
> - a Roman saint - used
> for the Irish original "Nora" and other variants
> (because there wasn't a
> "Saint Nora"!). The problem is compounded by people
> believing that these
> Latin concoctions were in fact their real names so
> they also begin to use
> them in formal circumstances such as gravestones.
> There is a good article on
> first names by Jane Lyons at
> "
> Surnames. In Church records surnames were spelt in
> English, as there was no
> Latin equivalent.
> In the early 19th century the majority of the
> population were effectively
> illiterate, and as such they would have had little
> idea of how their name
> should be spelt in their native Gaelic let alone in
> English or Latin. There
> was
> no 'Standard' concerning spelling generally and
> certainly not when the
> subject was the conversion of a Gaelic surname into
> English. McLysaghts
> books on Irish Surnames weren't available in the
> early 19th century. This
> lack of any standards of translation and spelling
> would explain the wide
> variations in spelling of surnames, and confusion
> about the 'tribal' origins
> of the family.
> The following is an example of surname spelling
> variations in my Dowling
> family.
> James Dooling (who was James Dowling when he died in
> Australia) Married Mary
> Sullivan. Their children were Baptised in Ballylooby
> Co. Tipperary as
> Dooling, Doolin, Dooly, Doolan, Dowling, Douling and
> Doolon. It would appear
> the spelling was entirely at the whim of the Priest,
> and it was the same
> Priest who Baptised one child as Dooly and another
> as Doolan!
> Whether these people were historically Dooleys or
> Dowlings is neither here
> nor there, and impossible to pursue. The
> pronunciation of any of the names
> is the same regardless of the spelling, 'DO LEN',
> quite a surprise I must
> say when I discovered I hadn't been pronouncing my
> name correctly!
> This variation of spelling is quite typical amongst
> my Tipperary ancestors
> and I would assume typical enough amongst other
> 'uncommon' names which
> hadn't attracted a standardized spelling. My Hylands
> were also Healan,
> Heelan, and Healam.
> Names with 'standardized' spelling I would give as
> examples are, Kelly,
> Ryan, Murphy, Sullivan, Butler, Bourke (Burke!). The
> spelling of those
> surnames doesn't seem to be all that open to
> variation, probably because
> they were so common, or prominent that they
> attracted a standardized
> spelling.
> There is also the possibility of simple mistakes in
> spelling on other
> documents such as ships passengers lists. Bourke and
> Rourke immediately come
> to mind as names which could easily be mistaken as
> being the same.
> Transcribing mistakes are also another factor.
> Different researchers have
> presented different spellings for the same Baptism
> or Marriage record. I
> wonder how accurately the typed names in some
> sections of the Griffiths
> Valuation were transcribed from the hand-written
> 'House Books' and 'Field
> Books'.
> Aliases. I only know of one example of this. For
> reasons unknown a branch of
> my Tipperary Dowlings decided in the 1840s to change
> their name to Kelly.
> The descendants who came to Australia were Kellys,
> others who came later
> were Dowling-Kellys. At least one family member who
> stayed behind stuck with
> Dowling.
> It's important not to get hung up on what is
> currently the spelling of a
> surname, always be prepared to widen your search. It
> took 15 years of
> research to find Stephen Dowling, I hadn't figured
> on him being Stephen
> Dolan!

Dan Hogan

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