The most popular house names in Ireland? Hopeless cases and lost things

St Jude and St Anthony: Naming our homes can be an act of love and commitment

Tony and Ita Johnstone’s B&B, St Judes, in Salthill: Visitors have often asked about the house name. One couple were so taken with it that they named their baby Jude.

Tony and Ita Johnstone’s B&B, St Judes, in Salthill: Visitors have often asked about the house name. One couple were so taken with it that they named their baby Jude.

 

If you were to guess the most common house name in the State, your answer would probably be wrong. There are many Hill Views, Parochial Houses and Aislings but no names are as popular as those inspired by two saints – one who helps lost causes and one who finds lost objects.

St Jude, known to generations as the patron saint of hopeless cases, has inspired the most house names in the State, according to GeoDirectory, a company jointly run by An Post and Ordnance Survey Ireland. Its database contains the address details of all homes and businesses that receive post. Some 1,266 homes use the name St (or Saint) Judes, Jude’s or Jude.

St Anthony, the patron saint of lost things, must have answered prayers on many occasions because there are 1,262 homes named after him.

Tony Johnstone says it’s likely that these houses were named in a different era, when more people had devotion to certain saints.

“And people don’t tend to change the name of a house when they buy it, so the names have stuck,” he says. This is what happened when he and his wife Ita bought St Judes in Salthill, Co Galway, in the 1990s.

“The house was built in 1926 and I suspect it had the name for quite a long time before we bought it,” he says.

He knows of at least three St Jude’s in the Galway area. St Augustine’s Church in Galway has a shrine to St Jude, and he wonders if this might account for the popularity of the name in the region.

“I know of half a dozen St Martin’s. I wonder are certain names more prevalent in certain areas?”

Tony and Ita Johnstone at their B&B, St Judes, in Salthill: “The house was built in 1926 and I suspect it had the name for quite a long time before we bought it.” Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy
Tony and Ita Johnstone at their B&B, St Judes, in Salthill: “The house was built in 1926 and I suspect it had the name for quite a long time before we bought it.” Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

The couple run a bed and breakfast at their home but he is too diplomatic to say if they ever hosted any hopeless cases. He does say that visitors have often asked about the house name. In fact, one couple were so taken with it that they named their baby Jude.

Younger generation

While most people who inherit a house name don’t tend to change it, Paul Kilkelly and Linda Turner did exactly that. His mother Sheila had named her 1830s house St Anthony’s when she bought it in the 1960s to run it as a B&B in Westport, Co Mayo.

“The patron saint of lost things was Mrs Kilkelly’s favourite saint,” explains Linda. “She totally relied on him to find things whenever anything went missing.” Back then, the business received many US visitors, and some of the older visitors said they had chosen the accommodation because of the name.

When the younger couple took over the house, they changed it from a B&B to self-catering.

“Our business attracts a younger generation so we felt the name didn’t fit in with today’s world. People in their 20s and 30s wouldn’t have the same connection with a saint,” Linda says.

They have hens and, with their children’s input, they renamed it The Roost. “We like the idea of people coming home to roost. Although we were a bit sad to see the name go. We still have an old limestone plaque with St Anthony’s on it at the front door. I did ask Paul if we should take it down but, whether through superstition or not, we decided to leave it up.”

After names inspired by St Jude and St Anthony, the GeoDirectory database shows that The Cottage is the third most popular name in the State, followed by The Bungalow, with Parochial House making up the top five.

Coronation Street’s Vera Duckworth famously renamed her terraced house The Old Rectory to outdo her neighbours but this name doesn’t feature in the Irish top 100. However, The Rectory does make an appearance, as does The Presbytery. Unlike our British neighbours, Irish homeowners don’t favour puns so Dun Roamin and Dun Werkin don’t make the top 100. Instead, Irish words such as Aisling, Sonas, Suaimhneas and Tír na nÓg all feature.

Other saints’ names in the top 100 include St Anne, St Joseph and St Mary. Devotion of another kind is on show by the 149 people who named their houses Anfield, home of Liverpool FC. The top 100 names represent more than 24,000 homes but Anna McHugh, An Post’s head of communications, says the list doesn’t include every house name in the State as some people don’t use their house names in their addresses.

Value booster

But could it boost the value of their homes if they did use the name, instead of a number? A 2017 article in the Telegraph quoted one survey which found that buyers will pay up to 40 per cent more for a good house address while another survey found that a regal name on a house could increase its value by £30,000.

Linda Turner and Paul Kilkelly’s St Anthony’s now renamed The Roost, at Westport Distillery Road, Westport. Photograph: Conor McKeown
Linda Turner and Paul Kilkelly’s St Anthony’s now renamed The Roost, at Westport Distillery Road, Westport. Photograph: Conor McKeown

Sherry FitzGerald’s residential director, Rena O’Kelly, doesn’t believe those findings apply to the Irish market.

“If putting a name on your house could add 40 per cent to its value then everyone would be naming their houses, so I don’t believe it is the case,” she says.

But she agrees that having a name on a house does give it a certain exclusivity. A house name can make a property stand out if a potential buyer is viewing six or seven properties.

“It can help as part of an overall marketing strategy,” she says. “And there can be good reasons to have a name on your home.”

If the house has a number such as 7 using a name might remove the impression that the house is shoehorned between two other houses.

“Or if the house has stunning views, a name is a nice way to highlight that feature by calling it Hill View or Meadow View or whatever,” she says.

While Eircodes have made a massive difference when trying to find a house in the countryside with no name, McHugh says house names also make life easier for post persons, emergency services and utility services.

“An Post always recommends householders with a non-unique address to give their house a visible name on the outside of the property in order to distinguish their house from others with the same address,” she says.

As well as this practical reason for naming your home, psychotherapist Trish Murphy says there are also deep-seated reasons.

“I think people name their houses because we name lots of things that are important to us, cars, pets, etc,” she says. “It can be an act of love and ownership and it signifies our commitment to it.

“Also, I think we enjoy walking down streets and wondering what the names of the houses signify – a sort of pastime that can make us feel superior or clever but often masks our wish that we could live there and name it ourselves.”

So, Vera Duckworth was actually helping delivery people while giving passers-by something to think about when she renamed Number 9 all those years ago.

Linda Turner and Paul Kilkelly’s home: “The patron saint of lost things was Mrs Kilkelly’s favourite saint,” says Linda. Photograph: Conor McKeown
Linda Turner and Paul Kilkelly’s home: “The patron saint of lost things was Mrs Kilkelly’s favourite saint,” says Linda. Photograph: Conor McKeown

The 10 most popular house names

St or Saint Judes/ Jude/Jude’s: 1,266

St or Saint Anthony’s/Anthony/Anthonys: 1,262

The Cottage: 1,181

The Bungalow: 999

Parochial House: 863

Hillview/Hill View: 829

St or Saint Martin’s/Martins/Martin: 780

Rose Cottage: 761

The Lodge: 722

Hillcrest: 575

*Source: GeoDirectory, May 2021

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