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Need a cool name for your new arrival? Try sticking a pin in a map of the world


Kate Winslet called her son Bear Blaze. Photo: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

Kate Winslet called her son Bear Blaze. Photo: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

Kate Winslet called her son Bear Blaze. Photo: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

WHAT'S in a name? If you're expecting a baby any time soon, it's highly likely that you're pondering this very question. You want to choose something unusual and cool, but it has to stand the test of time too.

Crucially, it can't remind you of someone you dislike. No one wants to look at their child and see the face of the spoiled brat who used to pull their hair in junior infants.

It's a decision that can weigh heavy on the hearts and minds of naive first-time parents who don't realise that, no matter what they call their beloved baby, someone else will either shorten it or insist on giving them a nickname anyway – like Doris (don't ask).

This may be one of the reasons why, in Ireland, traditional names like Jack and Emily are still the most popular.

But times they are a-changing. According to the owner of the website nameberry.com, the names of the future will be based on the world map. Pamela Satran believes that this baby-naming style wave will see nature-inspired monikers such as Everest, Nile and Oceana becoming top choices.

Already this week, the boy's name Beach had a 60pc spike in popularity. Nameberry reckons it's the perfect pick "for parents who relish sun, sand and surf" while "forest-lovers can spell it Beech, like the tree".

A sweet idea, though I can't help thinking that someone may not have fully thought through the consequences. I mean, "Son of a Beach" anyone?

Names from ancient cultures are also set to make their mark in years to come – Nero or Apollo for boys and Minerva for girls, for example. Togas will be optional, I hope.

Naturally, celebrities are already ahead of the curve.

This week, actress Kate Winslet and her businessman husband Ned Rocknroll (who changed his own surname by deed poll – his real name is Abel Smith) revealed that they called their new son Bear Blaze because they met in a house fire on Richard Branson's Necker Island.

But it was the Beckhams who really got the ball rolling by naming their eldest after the place where he was conceived.

I always feel a little sorry for poor Brooklyn. Talk about too much information from mum and dad.

The trend hasn't really caught on here. I suppose Castletownbere or Drumcondra just don't have the same sort of ring. You could always name your baby after a fruit, I suppose, like Gwyneth Paltrow did with Apple. Or a colour, like Beyonce's daughter, Blue.

It's hard to believe now, but back in the day my own name was considered unusual. I knew very few Niamhs when I was growing up and, even though I did go through a phase of campaigning to be called Sally after a character in Malory Towers, I actually secretly enjoyed being a bit different.

Some of the best craic I've had has been because of my name. When I lived in London, it used to be a pub game for my English work colleagues to write it down and then get their friends to try to guess at the pronunciation. Sometimes I pretended to be Siobhan, just to mix it up.


The other game was to get people to guess the Gaelic meaning. It became a personal challenge for me to make up a different story every time.

Depending on who I was talking to, Niamh could mean anything from "beautiful" to "dark princess of the tortured soul". Sadly, these days no one bats an eyelid when I introduce myself.

My name is as tame as they come, which won't be said for the children of the next generation.

I hope I'm there to hear the inevitable cries at tea time – "Romulus! Persephone! Come inside, your dinner's on the table!"