Naming an Irish orphan in the early 1900s

I’m starting an outline for a kids’ chapter book where the main character is an Irish orphan around 10-11 years old, it’s set in the early 1900s. I cannot decide her name! Initially I thought [name_f]Tillie[/name_f], short for [name_f]Matilda[/name_f], but I’m just not that into it as I start writing. Her older sister is [name_f]Kathleen[/name_f] so any variation on that is out.
Other ideas I’ve had were
[name_u]Dara[/name_u]
[name_u]Keely[/name_u]
[name_f]Nellie[/name_f]

But none seem right. Any other ideas?? I don’t want a fancy name like [name_f]Cornelia[/name_f] or [name_f]Charlotte[/name_f] (although I did toy with [name_u]Charlie[/name_u] as a nickname for [name_f]Charlotte[/name_f]. I feel that might be too modern of a nickname.)

Maybe…
[name_f]Nora[/name_f]
[name_f]Bridget[/name_f]
[name_f]Mary[/name_f] / [name_f]Molly[/name_f]
[name_f]Jenny[/name_f]
[name_f]Ellen[/name_f]
[name_f]Margaret[/name_f] / [name_f]Maggie[/name_f]
[name_u]Anne[/name_u] / [name_f]Annie[/name_f]
[name_f]Elizabeth[/name_f] / [name_f]Lizzie[/name_f] / [name_f]Beth[/name_f] / [name_f]Betty[/name_f]
[name_f]Sarah[/name_f]
[name_f]Hannah[/name_f]

According to the Irish Post (I’m not Irish, so I hope this is a legitimate website!) in 1911 nearly a quarter of Irish women/girls were named either [name_f]Mary[/name_f] or [name_f]Bridget[/name_f]. Other popular names according to that article I listed above. Also [name_f]Mary[/name_f] ____ double names like [name_f]Mary[/name_f] [name_f]Ann[/name_f], [name_f]Mary[/name_f] [name_f]Jane[/name_f], [name_f]Mary[/name_f] [name_f]Ellen[/name_f], etc were apparently quite popular.

[name_f]Frances[/name_f] nn [name_u]Frankie[/name_u]
[name_f]Dorothy[/name_f] nn [name_f]Dottie[/name_f]
[name_f]Margaret[/name_f] nn [name_f]Meg[/name_f]
[name_f]Emily[/name_f] nn [name_u]Lee[/name_u]
[name_f]Daisy[/name_f]
[name_f]Winifred[/name_f] nn [name_f]Winnie[/name_f]
[name_u]Ruby[/name_u] nn [name_f]Bee[/name_f]

[name_f]Molly[/name_f]! Throught of molly malone straight away. I’ve her statue in [name_u]Dublin[/name_u] and definitely an Irish name.

She would have to have had her name after a saint and approved by the village priest. This was true all the way up through the 80s in [name_u]Ireland[/name_u].

I think [name_f]Bridey[/name_f], a nn for [name_f]Brigid[/name_f], is adorable.

1 Like

I agree with @miloowen’s post (if OP’s character is Catholic).

You can view the most common names in Ireland in 1911 here:
https://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-1916/1916irl/people/names/

Nellie appears on the list. Matilda would have been unusual but possible since it’s a traditional saint’s name - Wolfe Tone’s wife was named Matilda. Dara and Keely seem too modern to me. Dara is a boy’s name in Ireland anyway.

1 Like