Wherefore art thou Mary, Elizabeth, John, Patrick, William?

Once popular first names now facing ‘extinction’ in Ireland

The most popular name for newborn girls in Ireland  is Emily and for boys it is Jack. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The most popular name for newborn girls in Ireland is Emily and for boys it is Jack. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

 

Ethel, Sheila, Garrett and Herbert are among names that have become “extinct” since 1917, or not recorded in the top 100 over five consecutive years, according to new research.

There may have been something about Mary in Ireland but not anymore. And as for Patrick, when did you last hear of a baby boy being given that name? According to research both names have fallen out of favour for newborns over the past century.

So too has Joseph, William, Ellen, Elizabeth and Annie. As for Gertrude and Muriel, not to mention Norman and Cecil, all face extinction as names for newborns in Ireland.

Research of Irish forenames between 1917 and 2017 by the genealogy site Ancestry.ie has found that in 1917 more than 11,000 newborn girls were given the name Mary while in 2017 only 64 girls were given it as a first name.

As for boys, John was the most popular name in 1917 but by 2017 it had fallen to 22nd most popular.

The popularity of names such as William and Patrick have fallen by 95 per cent over the past 100 years, while among girls Ellen, Elizabeth and Annie have fallen by 97 per cent, 96 per cent, and 95 per cent, respectively.

Ancestry spokesman Russell James said “it would be uncommon to meet a newborn Mary, Margaret or John today”.

Names not in the top 100 over the past five years and so considered “extinct”, include Herbert, Norman, Cecil, Bartholomew, Leslie, Cyril, Reginald, Donald, Sylvester, Wallace and Garrett for boys.

For girls “extinct” names include Gertrude, Ethel, Eveline, Muriel, Gladys, Sheila, Marion, Doreen, Wilhelmina, Doris, Edna, Letitia, Margaretta and Fanny.

Names which have enjoyed a rise in popularity in Ireland since 1917 include Leo (up 108 per cent), Luke, Mark, Harry, Adam and Aidan for boys. Among popular girls names are Grace, Charlotte, Eva, Lily, Emma and Lucy.

The most popular name for newborn girls in Ireland is Emily and for boys it is Jack.