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Changing your surname to the Irish version

(56 Posts)
WordOfTheDay Mon 07-Dec-20 10:42:15

I'm toying with the idea of changing my surname to the Irish version. I wonder if any of you have experience of doing this, why you or the person did it, how it was received by others. Are there strong connotations associated with doing this, do you think? Any regrets? Or are you/ they happy with their choice?

I live in the Netherlands permanently. I already have an Irish/Scottish-sounding "Mc" surname, so already have that "Irish" badge, which makes it less motivating to make the change. However, I am Irish and I like my Irish identity. By the way, my Irish language skills are passable and I've been studying/improving for a couple of years now.

OP’s posts: |
steppemum Mon 07-Dec-20 11:05:34

Oh interesting.
I know nothing about this, can you give some examples of the English v Irish versions of some names?

Sorry, that doens't answer your question at all.

ZZPer Mon 07-Dec-20 13:38:11

Here is a website with a database of Irish surnames with versions as Gaeilge and versions as Bearla.
www.sloinne.ie/
For example, Cleary is Ó Clérigh and Mc Dermott is Mac Diarmada.

IRunLikeJoeBiden Mon 07-Dec-20 14:12:28

I know someone who did this with both his names, when he was about 20, 25 years ago. I knew him before. It felt a bit pretentious to me back then, but nowadays I'm not sure I'd think that.

He is from NI and grew up in a wealthy Protestant area.

TheSpottedZebra Mon 07-Dec-20 14:18:03

I know of someone who did do that, they were Irish living in Ireland. I think most people 'got it' although they were probably thought to be having notions.

What would it do to the pronunciation of your name? I'm born and bred in UK with a very Irish name that I have spent a lifetime spelling, and having people say it wrong. Looking at that link from pp, the Gaelic version would be yet harder to say and spell. Might it be harder still in the Netherlands, and would this bother you?

harrietm1987 Mon 07-Dec-20 14:33:44

Interesting! I think whether I would do this depends on the name and how different the pronunciation would be, especially as you live in the Netherlands. Can you say the name or an equivalent?

A friend of mine changed her first name from the anglicised spelling to the Irish spelling (Keeva to Caoimhe) and I also know of several people who have done it the other way round after moving to England from Ireland, but no one with a surname.

helloxhristmas Mon 07-Dec-20 14:38:45

I think you might be seeing yourself up for a world of pain with spelling in a European country tbh.

I'm Irish.

ZZPer Mon 07-Dec-20 14:43:18

Tough break there with your difficult Irish name in the UK, Zebra!

Miraculously, the Irish version of my name is pretty straight forward to read/pronounce. I would have “Nic” instead of “Mc”, of course, which would be unusual here, but still doable. I get the “notions” angle. I also thought that Irish people would expect you to be a very good Gaeilgeoir if you are using the Irish version and might think it was a bit strange if you are using the name as Gaeilge, but are not a v. good speaker.

M0rT Mon 07-Dec-20 14:44:28

I know some people who do this as a personal/professional name thing.
So use their name in Irish professionally but don't bother getting people who already know them to change what they call them or change names on bank accounts/passports.
I don't think it's been that difficult.
I also know a few men who have changed their surnames, not to Irish but to mother's maiden for example.
Seems to go fine, some people might eye roll but they do it in private and you'd never do anything if you worried too much about other people's opinions.

M0rT Mon 07-Dec-20 14:47:07

Just saw your update, the people using their Irish names are Gaeilgeoirs so probably not worried about that side of it.
It's your name though so I say go for it if you want to!
Their isn't/shouldn't be an exam you have to pass before you can embrace your own heritage!

turkeyboots Mon 07-Dec-20 15:46:43

I've lived in various parts of Europe and would never have attempted the Irish version of my name. The English one caused enough confusion! But depends on the name and how it would be pronounced locally I suppose. I have a v different sounding surname in Italian compared to German for example.

WiseOwlWan Mon 07-Dec-20 15:51:47

I can see why some people do it. Some sur names sound better in Irish. Murphy is an example!

My sur name doesn't lend itself to being translated at all. It's a norman name I think.

I admit, if somebody translates their name in to Irish I would have the expectation that they had a high level of fluency.

You can't really introduce yourself as Aine ni Breathnach if you were born Anne Walsh if you still can't speak Irish. Or you CAN! But it would raise an eyebrow here or there.

ZZPer Mon 07-Dec-20 18:10:49

Yeah, M0rT, that’s the thing. The Irish name is equally my name. It’s a special thing that (a lot of) Irish people have the option to use either. I think that’s even enshrined in law. Also, it’s an interesting idea to just use it professionally and informally, maybe for new activities, groups and on-line stuff, rather than trying to do full Riverdance re-brand to people who’ve known you as “Biddy McBoring” for decades🤣

20shadesofgreen Mon 07-Dec-20 18:16:32

The website gives the masculine version. Afaik there are 2 versions of the feminine version of my surname in use. I’ve never really known how to choose.

TheSpottedZebra Mon 07-Dec-20 18:23:54

There isn't/shouldn't be an exam you have to pass before you can embrace your own heritage!

That is a beautiful way of looking at it!

frogswimming Mon 07-Dec-20 18:52:12

I'm not Irish but I've lived here for 20 years. I'd assume you were fluent if you did that too. I notice some people do it informally as well, sometimes they use the English and sometimes the Irish. Like at work or home.

TheYearOfSmallThings Mon 07-Dec-20 18:54:22

Notions.

MarDhea Mon 07-Dec-20 19:17:45

TheYearOfSmallThings

Notions.


😂

I'd say go for it if you like, OP. I know a few Irish people around Europe who have done the same, esp if they work in a very international field where everyone has unusual names anyway. It's a way of distinguishing themselves as Irish when being a native English speaker can make a lot of people assume they're British.

Plus some names are just nicer as Gaeilge. Would you rather be Kate Barry or Kate de Barra? Mary Looney or Mary Ní Lamhna?

(Apologies to any Barrys or Looneys out there)

MadameMiggeldy Mon 07-Dec-20 19:26:38

ZZPer

Yeah, M0rT, that’s the thing. The Irish name is equally my name. It’s a special thing that (a lot of) Irish people have the option to use either. I think that’s even enshrined in law. Also, it’s an interesting idea to just use it professionally and informally, maybe for new activities, groups and on-line stuff, rather than trying to do full Riverdance re-brand to people who’ve known you as “Biddy McBoring” for decades🤣

OMG that’s my next name change. Biddy McBoring. Married to MileyMcMarvellous

Passmeabottlemrjones Mon 07-Dec-20 19:29:02

I know a few people (both Irish living in Ireland and Irish/Irish descent living in England) who have done this for their name on Facebook but not in actual real life! A few of them changed it back after a while.

Europilgrim Mon 07-Dec-20 19:36:02

Have you checked the law in the Netherlands? Not all countries allow you to change your name!

Apileofballyhoo Mon 07-Dec-20 19:45:56

gringringrin

Apileofballyhoo Mon 07-Dec-20 19:47:00

Crikey the quote thing failed again. Grins in response to Miley and Biddy above.

SparkyBlue Mon 07-Dec-20 20:57:06

A colleague of DH did it. There was lots of sniggering if I recall correctly especially when someone came from a different department for a meeting a few weeks later and asked loudly "who is Aine De Barra(obviously not real name) "and was very bemused to find that it was Anne Barry who actually lived across the road from her for years and she had never known her to be a big Irish speaker.

WiseOwlWan Mon 07-Dec-20 21:03:16

Oh I can imagine!! I was asked onced, when I was in London, how to pronounce Caoimhín. I said "just ask for Kevin".

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