Mothers have become bolder and more colourful in naming their children

WHEN a celebrity couple has a new baby, the gossip pages debate potential names. From North West to Apple Martin and Brooklyn Beckham, the more famous the parent, the more unusual the name.

Mothers have become bolder and more colourful in naming their children

But Jack and Emily remain the most popular baby names in Ireland, according to the latest figures from the CSO.

A poll by MummyPages.ie shows that while eight out of ten Irish mothers look to celebrities for inspiration, the majority ultimately choose a relatively traditional name for their babies. Around 28% would prefer an unusual name, but only 8% will name their baby after someone famous.

Claire Garvey, from Dublin, is married to Mark and has two daughters Olivia, 3, and Charlotte, 1. While those names are traditional, they were both chosen after Claire’s favourite characters on television.

“For my firstborn, I chose the name Olivia, as it was a name I had loved for many years and, being a huge fan of Grease throughout my childhood, it was nice to pay tribute to Olivia Newton-John,” says the 34-year-old.

“My husband had little choice in the matter, but I let him pick her middle name, which is Aoife. We named our second child Charlotte, as we wanted something classic, a name she wouldn’t have to share with the rest of her classmates and which went well with her sisters’ name. Mark didn’t realise that this was also the name of my favourite character in Sex and the City.”

While the executive assistant says she has no doubt her daughters will be happy with their names when they are older, she won’t necessarily tell them for whom they were named.

“I don’t think either of the girls would have an issue with knowing they were named after celebrities. However, I don’t think I will tell them,” she says. “I would like them to feel a sense of individualism about their name.

“And I would advise other new mothers not to rush into choosing a name. It’s such a big decision and important to get it right. I would say to look at the credits at the end of your favourite soap for inspiration, but don’t forget to say all the potential names over and over again with your surname, to make sure you like the way it sounds.”

Celine Garvey, from Kildare, has one daughter, Elanor, who is named after Celine’s favourite Tolkien novel, his masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings.

“My daughter is called Elanor due to my love of all things Tolkien and Lord of the Rings in particular,” she says. “I have an Elvish tattoo on my neck, which, when translated, means Celine — but the name Elanor comes from the Elvish flower — a golden, star-shaped flower which grew in abundance in the forest of Lórien. Samwise Gamgee thought highly of the flower and, at Frodo’s suggestion, named his eldest daughter, Elanor Gardner, from it. She was also known as Elanor the Fair.”

The 35-year-old says no-one was surprised by the origin of her daughter’s name and she hopes it will be a source of pride to the little girl when she grows up.

“I have always been a fan of Tolkien’s work and while a lot of people expected me to name her something from the worlds he created, I didn’t want to make it too obvious,” she says.

“Most people don’t even know what it’s about, but fans of the books will know, when they see the spelling of her name.

“As both her Dad and I share a love of books, I’m sure she will see it as a romantic story of how she came to be. And, hopefully, it will encourage her to read the books to find out more.

“If you are going to choose a name relating to something which inspires you, go for the less obvious, as it keeps people guessing. They all thought I would choose a crazy Elvish name, and while it is inspired by my love for fantasy, I choose to be subtle — this time.”

Laura Haugh, of the Mummy Pages website, says their database has 50,000 baby names to browse and while the celebrity section is the most visited, many people are rediscovering traditional names.

“We are seeing a noticeable return to more traditional baby names, of late,” Laura says. “Our sense is that mums in Ireland are moving away from naming their children after celebrities and pop stars, instead opting for a name that has special meaning or symbolism for the parents and will stand the test of time.”

Psychologist Peadar Maxwell says there are many reasons why people choose certain names for their children, and it is the very first gift a child will receive from its parents.

“People choose names for as many reasons as there are children in the world,” he says. “Of course, many people wish to carry on a family tradition, or honour a family elder by naming their child a particular name, or a variation of a loved-one’s name. A name can also be a statement of cultural or religious identity.

“Other parents choose a name simply because they like how it sounds, what it means, or as a reminder of a place and time. But, whatever the reason, naming a child is an opportunity to make a statement and gift to them with a name they will have forever.”

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