What in the name of St Patryk is going on with Irish names?
The girls’ list is notable for the absence of Irish names from the top 10
THIS IS THE STORY of a little boy called Mason. Actually, it’s the story of 115 boys called Mason – all of them born in 2011 and given a name that a few years ago was best known here as a surname, most famously appended to Perry or James. And it is the story of how someone who isn’t even the most famous person in her own family may be responsible.
A few years ago Mason was not entirely unknown as a first name. In 2006 a mere five were registered in Ireland. That year 417 names were more popular for boys.
Mason rose a little in popularity the following year, hovering close to 250th until 2009. Then, whoosh, Mason shot up. In 2010 the 59 new Masons were more than the previous three years put together. Last year that number almost doubled again, and according to Central Statistics Office figures released this week it entered the top 100 names for boys for the first time. An unusual name until very recently now sits between Christopher and Jason.
And for all that it would be nice to believe otherwise, Kourtney Kardashian, sister of Kim (Google informs me), appears to be behind this.
Kardashian named her boy Mason in December 2009 at a time when the name was 35th on the US list. It has featured in that top 100 for some years, so it is not particularly exotic, yet even in the US it has jumped in popularity since that boy’s birth, ranking second in 2011.
It would be a fair assumption that not everyone in the US or Ireland who named their kid Mason did so because it was the name chosen by the second-rate celebrity sister of someone who first made her fame (Google informs me) through a sex tape. Perhaps Kardashian happened to surf the wave of popularity rather than kick-start it. Yet the coincidence is striking.
When it comes to names, Ireland is culturally as well as geographically between the US and the UK. The girls’ lists share four and five names, respectively. (And the US crossover would rise to five were you to accept Ireland’s Sophie and the United States’ Sophia as essentially identical.)
The Irish list shows a drift away from Gaelic names. The girls’ list is notable for the absence of Irish names from the top 10, Aoife having clung on last year as a sole representative.