ANALYSIS: Traditional Names on Way out after Decades

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), December 23, 2009 | Go to article overview

ANALYSIS: Traditional Names on Way out after Decades


You might assume that names such as John or David or William are still widespread in Northern Ireland. Or female names such as Catherine or Mary.

And among adults they are, but in a few decades they might not be a those five names do not feature at all among the list of Northern Ireland's 20 most popular newborn names.

Yet for decades they remained high in the list of our most popular names, appearing in the lists of most popular newborn names in, for example, 1939 and 1975.

Jack and Katie were the most popular babies' names in the Province this year, but neither featured among the most popular girls or boys names in either 1939 or 1975 (when they were more likely to be casual versions of John or Catherine, rather than given names).

Indeed, of the 1975 and 1939 lists, only James is among this year's favourites.

Other names that were near the top of the list in both 1939 and 1975, William or Robert, do not even make the 2009 top 20.

Nor do 1975 favourites such as Karen or Joanne or Lisa.

Among my generation (1970s), names such as David are so common that I remember being sent a postcard which the sender signed only 'David', and having to spend some time working out who it was from a having an uncle, a cousin, colleagues and friends with that name.

This year David just scrapes into the top 50.

David (yes, David) Marshall of the Statistics and Research Agency told the News Letter that fashion plays a large part in names, particularly for girls. …

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