Naming Names: Who, What, Where in Ireland

The theory and practice of Irish name-giving has developed in many directions, and it is the purpose of this book to attempt to document, discuss and characterize some of the more significant of these. The author offers a comprehensive view of a field that is altering rapidly under pressure of wider social change but which nevertheless remains fundamental to the way we categorize and verbalize Irish culture. Divided into two parts, the first is a discussion of place names, proper names, brand names and nicknames. The author traces the changing patterns and fashions in the naming of things and places in Ireland starting with the name of the island itself. It is Ireland in common speech, Eire on official documents, and Erin and the ould sod in sentimental ballads. It has had dozens of other names througout history. The small part of the island that is still part of the United Kingdom is officially Northern Ireland; Ulster to the Unionists; the Six Counties or the North of Ireland to the Nationalists and British-occupied Ireland to the Provisional IRA. The neighbouring larger island is constantly getting confused between England and Britain. The two islands together are sometimes called these islands but never the British Isles, at least not when you're in the Republic, or should that be the Free State or Southern Ireland. Names are trouble, and not just place-names. There are brand names, nicknames, names of housing estates and popular forenames that all change and develop over time, according to fashion changes. These changes tell us much about ourselves, the sort of people we are and the way we have evolved over time. The second part of this book is a dictionary. Organized on a standard A-Z basis, it glosses such names as Aer Lingus, Celtic Twilight, Clonakilty Wrastler, Lambeg, Mount Mellory, Navan Man, NIPPLES, BIFFO, Old Mister Brennan and Pee.