Life Mothers & Babies

Saturday 30 August 2014

How parents lost their love for baby Mary

Sam Griffin

Published 22/04/2014 | 02:30

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Game of Thrones: Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen
Game of Thrones: Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen
Daniel Radcliffe
vintage nostalgic portrait of two girls ca. 1910

BOYS' names have stood the test of time over the past century, but the most popular girls' names have changed dramatically during that period.

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Many of the most common names chosen for girls at the turn of the 20th Century have almost vanished from use.

While there was something about Mary one hundred years ago, the Biblical name has plummeted in the popularity stakes.

Mary was the most common girls' name recorded in the 1901 census, but at the last official count it was languishing in a three-way tie for 71st place.

An analysis of the historical list shows that six of the top 10 popular girls' names no longer appear in the top 100 which is compiled by the Central Statistics Office.

Margaret, Anne, Jane, Catherine, Annie, and even our patron saint Bridget have all disappeared off the records.

The biblical Sarah is the sole survivor in the top 10 and remains unchanged in 10th place. In addition to Mary, the only other hangers-on in the top 100 are Ellen (47th) and Katie (18th).

Indeed, on the whole, comparisons between the census and the CSO's 2012 list of names registered in that year reveal boys' names have fared much better at remaining popular over the intervening 111-odd years. Boys' names like James, Michael and Daniel have all stood the test of time and held on to their places in the top 10.

James, second most popular a century ago behind John, remains in exactly the same position in 2012 – now trailing Jack who has held the crown since 2007.

But some names have dropped down the list – most notably John which was number one in 1901 but is 25th nowadays.

For both boys and girls, religious names have plunged down the ranks.

Like Bridget, our patron saint Patrick – who once enjoyed the lofty position of third most popular – is now back in 21st place.

But unlike the girls, where many of the once-popular names appear at risk of extinction, only Edward – a throwback to our colonial days – is in danger of disappearing from the top 100.

After appearing ninth in 1901, it lies at 95th in the latest list which refers to babies who were born in 2012.

Other former heavyweights that have fallen out of favour include Jeremiah and Cornelius. They've been replaced by the previously unheard of Leon, Mason, Logan and even Kacper which ranks at 98th.

However, we have so far been spared some of the more bizarre names that parents have affirmed on their children in other countries.

This could change, however, with the increasing popularity of the 'Game of Thrones' TV series.

In 2012, there were 146 girls in America named Khaleesi – the title Emilia Clarke's character changes her name to in the fantasy drama. Her given name of Denerys proved less popular but was still chosen for 21 newborns.

Equally noteworthy is the absence of bitter litigious battles witnessed in this country that can sometimes result from less traditional naming.

Earlier this year in the US, a Tennessee judge ordered a child's name be changed from Messiah to Martin.

Irish figures for 2013 are released next month so only time will tell how many Laylas, Freyas, Kacpers or even little Messiahs will be appearing on the next list.

Irish Independent

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