A problem of language when naming Irish profiles

+7 votes

A question has arisen re the naming of this group of  profiles - this particular profile was recently adopted and the name changed to English https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/O'Sullivan_Beare-3; probably because the literature is written in English and therefore more familiar to that PM. The  [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donal_Cam_O%27Sullivan_Beare Wikipedia profile] for this person is here.

A glance at this name study will reveal that Irish was the language still being used in the 18th C. [https://www.johngrenham.com/findasurname.php?surname=%C3%93%20S%C3%BAileabh%C3%A1in  Ó Súileabháin]

Wikipedia is doing a great job reconciling the language issue for readers; the Ó Súileabháin Bhéara descend from the [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E%C3%B3ganachta  Eóganachta] anda glance through this article reveals that all the names discussed are being given in Irish. 

We have a case here for the inclusion of alternate names in the name fields provided. It can get messy when given, middle, nick, family & titles are all in two languages plus the many variations found in translated texts. 

Which language should have precedence?

in Policy and Style by Valerie Willis G2G6 Mach 9 (91.9k points)

2 Answers

+9 votes
Best answer

Hi Valerie, I know there is much discussion about whether names should be in English but the naming guidelines are pretty clear that we should be using the "names that people themselves would have known", which in this case would be Irish.  See General Naming Conventions

Note that if you want to include English translations these can go in the Nicknames or Other Last Names fields.

It looks like this page about Name Field Guidelines that there is current discussion about Irish naming conventions?

by John Atkinson G2G6 Pilot (536k points)
selected by Valerie Willis

I have been entering Irish names, but have run into another problem in which the inclusion of a second word with the surname such as that for Ó Súileabháin Bhéara and Donal MacCarthy Reagh (Domhnall Mac Carthaigh Riabhachhttps://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Reagh-9 where where someone thought "Reagh" was the family name and others have thought it should be a prefix or nick name etc. I have explained that this type of princely name IS the name in common use and not simply the family  name with an honour attached. 

Do others see these names in this way?

Have checked the "Name Field Guidelines" and the Ireland Category, but not found a discussion or guidelines for pre-1500 Irish names other than the category provided under Irish Nobility / Hiberno-Normans, Irish Nobility which I am using. 

Conscientious members of the Euroaristo Project do monitor the profiles, but make "corrections" without understanding that the English/European system was not much used in Ireland until imposed in the 17th C. 

If Ireland could be separated from "The British Isles" in the guidelines placed on the European Aristocrats Project category page, that would be a start. 

Have read through the G2G discussion re DB Scheme Name expansion table and something allowing for dual language entries will be very helpful all-round.

In the meantime, will it be acceptable, in early Irish profiles (and perhaps Scots & Welsh) to fill in the name fields in either a native language or English as appropriate to the prime source used, with the whole name in the alternate language, in one single field (such as "other last name") to avoid a confusion of languages split among the various available fields, especially where titles and nicknames are also in common use Have done it here; https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/O'Conor-35

ps - please note we have got a long way still to go in providing any consistency for early Irish profiles.

There are three issues here:

  1. For what period are the Gaelic spellings the norm, up to 1652, earlier, or later. I would have originally been Seán O Failbhe, by 1600 Seán Falvie, by 1700 John Falvey. Saying that it depends on the original source would bias the naming convention towards the anglophones whose records are more numerous.
  2. The princely name does appear to be exactly that in later records. In a 1729 deed Randall McCarthy More (Mór) is passing on property to his son Florence McCarthy Esq - https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSHW-C96D-F?cat=185720 This is consistent with other documents I have seem from c1680 onwards.
  3. To what extent were appellations such as "McDermod" actually part of the name. Hugh McDermod Falvey and Hugh Falvey were both alive in 1674, Daniel Falvey and Daniel McHugh Falvey both sold leases to Thomas Willoe in a deed of 1715. The Mc Mac part seemed only to be used for disambiguation, if there wasn't likely to be confusion then it wasn't used.

BTW what was Fínghin Mac Cárthaigh Reagh's name when he became the Mc Cárthaigh Mór?

THE Mc Cárthaigh Mór - try keeping "The" in the prefix field !! On second thoughts, "The Mc Cárthaigh Mór" would probably be "Current Last Name"

Wouldn't THE be a title?

The head of the Mc Cárthaigh Mór Clan

The guideline offered in https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Help:Name_Fields_for_European_Aristocrats- "Proper use of data fields for Medieval and Earlier Profiles" No: 4 which says titles belong in the Other Nicknames Field - does work, sort of; MacCarthy Mór's profile now reads Donal (Donal IX)"Prince of Desmond, The"MacCarthy Mór formerly McCarthy 

I was wondering if the nickname space could be used.
+2 votes

Suggestions toward establishing a guideline for naming Irish Profiles 

pre 1500 what should we enter in LNAB field where only one name is known to be used? Is it appropriate to enter a clan, or kingdom, or place name instead? 

pre 1700 Irish (Gaelic) names should be written in MODERN Irish - with alternate names in English in name field if desired and in Old Irish in the Bio section where known

pre-1700 Norse/Viking names according to Project Norway FAQ

pre 1700 Anglo/Irish (Hiberno/Norman) names should be in French or English according to the style adopted by the family with alternate names in Irish if known to be used

pre 1700 English names should follow the guidelines established in the British Isles section of the Euroaristo Project

Titles and distinctions should be in the appropriate language and style of the descent lines; ie 

Gaelic "Chiefs of the Name" whose style varies, Irish equivalents for "Prince" (sometimes a Tánaiste) "King" (Rí + name of kingdom) and "High King" (Ard-Rí) should used with an explanation in English 

Hiberno Norman 

Peerage of Ireland, as per guidelines established in the Euroaristo Project - except in the case of surrender and regrant, in which both the Irish title and that granted in the English Peerage should be noted

Will this Guideline work? What do others think?

by Valerie Willis G2G6 Mach 9 (91.9k points)
edited by Valerie Willis

I just C&P your outline to a page I was keeping notes about Space:Irish_Naming_Standards This is a working page, so everyone, please add your thoughts, ideas etc. to the page. If everyone helps out, maybe we can get this up to a category level and standardize some of these great ideas. There is a link on the page to this G2G question, so if you prefer, you can leave your comments here.

Thanks Richard, great discussion, hadn't found that page

Modern Irish! Obviously not a follower of https://www.johngrenham.com/blog/2018/06/25/have-irish-surnames-stopped-changing/! And I would have to apologise to my uncles including (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinny_Falvey and http://www.kennellyarchive.com/id/TBR036/) who don't believe in "bh" so I suppose I'm a fáilbe instead. I think I would have to rule myself out of this conversation on the basis of ignorance and a tendency to avoid the older records. One point I would make though is that the modern Irish do separate their Mcs and Macs from the second part of the name, so Mc Carthy, O Brien are now the norm in Ireland.
As for the precise cutover date, major Irish texts such as Annála Ríoghachta Éireann [Edit] are no longer being produced after about 1636. Whereas new English documents such as the Civil Survey of 1641 perhaps don't have a stable spelling of the Irish names. Falvey seems to be the stable spelling of that name since 1652 with a few Falvie spellings still occurring so I would prefer to stick to that for post-1652 records unless I start finding gaelic spellings, and the same would apply for other familes too.

Do we need to give any special consideration to the Scots-Irish? For example the Earls of Antrim McDonald turned McDonnell.

Love it, its just a matter of choosing one standard that can be appreciated by everybody, there's plenty of room for providing alternative spellings for names in the bio section. Re the Scots who flitted between Northern Ireland & the Western Isles, I always get both McDonald & McDonnell & Mac Domhnaill into the name fields of a bio somehow, even if it is just heading up a bio with one or other of the spellings that didn't fit well into the name fields. There are the titles and nick names too, its a very entertaining problem, trying to keep the top of the profile tidy.

Have been very interested to see that Wikipedia is setting the standard now, we shouldn't be too far behind.

ps : had a look through the blog mentioned above, great fun. Please understand that my suggestion re "modern Irish" refers to pre-1700 names only for which the spelling varied hugely, as it did every where else. Of course one does follow the family spelling of a name where they have evolved one way or another over time. That's the Wikitree standard, record the name as they used it themselves.

Further to spoken Irish in Ireland

Received today via rootsweb - (names withheld)

"I think it is possible that the use of English is overstated in the census records. For official records, families may have stated they spoke English, (because they could), although the spoke in Irish in the home. On the other hand, my parents' generation, born in the 1920s, were taught through Irish at school, and learnt all subjects in Irish (used the original Gaelicalphabet and script), although they spoke English at home."

and a reply

".. as I understand it, the newly minted Irish Free State made a concerted effort to revive the Gaelic language for political and cultural reasons, which would explain your parents’ generation being taught in Gaelic at school. ...There is a map “Irish English in 1800” which has the following statement appended:  “In 1800, more than half the country still spoke Irish." 

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