Medieval Naming Guides: Irish and Manx

Irish and Manx Names

These two countries are grouped together because the native language in each was Gaelic. However, it is important to note that there were other cultures and languages in each country. In some periods there were Norse communities in each country, and later English communities. Members of each culture had names constructed according to their own customs, which slowly blended with the native naming customs in some ways. The articles listed below cover both Gaelic and non-Gaelic names in these lands.

Irish Names

Quick and Easy Gaelic Names, by Sharon Krossa
An excellent general guide to building a typical Gaelic name. Start here!

Lenition in Gaelic Naming Step By Step, by Sharon Krossa
A great guide to an often-confusing point of Gaelic grammar. It includes references to:
Old-Irish Spelling and Pronunciation, by Dennis King
A good basic guide. Old Irish was the language spoken by Gaels in Ireland, Man, and Scotland from about 700 to 1000 AD.
The Spelling of Lenited Consonants in Gaelic, by Sharon Krossa
A brief discussion of this point of Gaelic grammar, which is important in the correct spelling of Gaelic names, especially feminine names.
Pronunciation of Scottish Gaelic Consonants, by Sharon Krossa
A guide to pronouncing modern Scottish Gaelic consonants, which is a good approximation to late medieval Irish pronunciation as well.
Language Timeline, by Dennis King.
Not referenced by the lenition guide, but useful for clarifying some terminology used in these articles. It is a simple illustration of the history of Gaelic, with an example of how a single word changed over time.

Dated Names found in Ó Corráin and Maguire's Irish Names, by Mari Elspeth nic Bryan
An index of examples given in this excellent source, providing a large selection of given names and bynames.

100 Most Popular Men's Names in Early Medieval Ireland, by Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn
A list of names appropriate for Irish names before 1100 or so, extracted from O'Brien's Corpus Genealogiarum Hiberniae.

Index of Names in Irish Annals, by Mari neyn Bryan
An ongoing index of names from a collection of medieval documents available in the CELT archive of on-line Irish texts. There are sections available on feminine given names, feminine descriptive bynames, masculine given names, and masculine descriptive bynames.

Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century Irish Names and Naming Practices , by Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn
Two analyses of names from late-period Irish sources. Previously published in the 1998 KWHS Proceedings.

Historical Name Generator: Sixteenth Century Irish and Scottish Gaelic Names, by Sharon Krossa
A simple historical name generator suitable for selecting a Gaelic language name appropriate for a 16th century Irish or Scottish Gael. More information will be added over time, but what's there is quite useful.

Names Found in Anglicized Irish Documents, by Mari ingen Briain meic Donnchada
Masculine and feminine given names from sixteenth- and seventeenth-century records.

Irish Names and Surnames, by Patrick Woulfe.
A digitization of this very useful book. Not all of the elements are dated to period, and care must be taken with the Gaelic forms, many of which are modern.

16th & 17th Century Anglicized Irish Surnames from Woulfe, by Mari Elspeth nic Bryan
Irish Gaelic surnames as recorded in documents written by English speakers, drawn from the previous book.

Some Masculine Ogham Names, by Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn
A list of names from this 4th-7th century language, the precursor to Old Irish. The article includes some comments on the Ogham language and on name construction in this period.

Medieval Gaelic Clan, Household, and Other Group Names, by Effric neyn Kenyeoch vc Ralte
A short discussion of the names used by Gaels for these institutions.

Manx Names

Manx Names in the Early 16th Century, by Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn

A Manx Note Book (and a mirror site)
A collection of genealogical information about Manx families, it contains some examples of pre-1600 names. Of greatest interest is The Manorial Roll of the Isle of Man, 1511-1515. This is a 1924 English translation of the original Latin. It includes lists of men's and women's names and a list of surnames. These must be used with care: The names have almost certainly been translated and normalized. Some entries include bynames as well as given names, including unmarked patronymics that can easily be mistaken for double given names. Other useful pages include:
  • Personal Names. A list of given names, masculine and feminine. Gives some dated examples, but be careful: Some entries are undated, others are dated after 1600.
  • Christian Names. Lists of masculine and feminine names, with etymologies and some historical information. Same caveats as the preceding item.
  • Manx Family Names, based on A. W. Moore, Manx Names. Many of the entries contain dated citations.

The Medieval Names Archive is published by Ursula Georges. It was historically published by the Academy of Saint Gabriel.
Copyright on individual articles belongs to their authors.