Did you know you can use traditional naming patterns to find the origin of your Irish roots? You can! Here's how to do it.
Find Your Irish Roots Through Family Naming Patterns
Author: Stephanie Varney
Many genealogists use surnames to dig up their Irish roots. This is an
important and sound technique, because surnames can often point to the Irish county
from which your ancestors came. However, surnames arenít the only type of name you can use to trace
your Irish ancestry.
Thanks to common traditional naming patterns across the country in the 19th century, first names
can also often provide an important clue as to the identities of your elusive family members.
Nineteenth-century Irish family naming patterns usually followed the guidelines in the list below
1. The oldest son was named after the fatherís father.
2. The oldest daughter was named after the motherís mother.
3. The second son was named after the motherís father.
4. The third son was named after the father.
5. The fourth son was named after the fatherís oldest brother.
6. The second daughter was named after the fatherís mother.
7. The third daughter was named after the mother.
8. The fourth daughter was named after the motherís oldest sister.
As you can see, this type of naming pattern can potentially provide important clues to your
Irish roots. Itís especially useful in cases where you donít know the names of the parents of a
particular ancestor. By looking at how he named his children, you can have an idea as to what his
parents (and siblings) names may have been. While the above guidelines were by no means set in stone,
and sometimes varied, the pattern was usual enough in the 19th century to be of real use to genealogists
searching for Irish ancestors.
By looking at naming patterns when searching for the parents of an ancestor, you can keep
a closer eye out for potential candidates by looking at their first names. Of course, you should
always verify and document all information, and never assume to know an ancestorís name simply by
what it would be according to the above list. But, for example, if youíre looking for the parents of an
Irish ancestor named Michael Donnahue, and you know Michaelís first-born son was named Martin,
then this might be a clue that Michaelís fatherís name was also Martin. In this case, you can look more
closely at men by the name of Martin Donnahue who lived in the same area as Michael and were of the
right age to be Michaelís father.
Knowing the traditional naming patterns helps you find your Irish roots by alerting you to clues of
identities you may have otherwise missed. Use it cautiously, but do use it! It can help you tremendously!
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