Friday, 17 August 2012


After a summer away from blogging I'm encouraged back by a tweet today from

I love their regular posts about the 100 most popular Irish surnames and always retweet them, hoping that someone out there sees their own family name. I've seen names that remind me of primary school: Cunningham, Cullen, Barry, Foley, Kenny, O'Keefe and names of those that I've been lucky enough to meet in their later years through The Emerald Centre here in Leicester: Higgins, Brady. Of course what I'm waiting for is my name and today I got a little closer.

When my parents came over, Paddy Callaghan/Sarah Hill, they came to Leicester because my Dad's sister was here, Greta Callaghan/Tommy Holt. Tommy Holt had an aunty here Annie King/John Moran and today MORAN showed up as the 56th most popular Irish surname!

My sister and I have very English names, Lynda and Sandra. I understand, now, that giving us those names was part of assimilating into a new country and culture but as I child I desperately wanted to be called something like Bernadette: something that would seal my identity as Irish. (By my confirmation though, I was clearly developing my "where do I belong" internal crisis and chose Lucy as my confirmation name!). 

Callaghan, however, could not be mistaken for anything else but Irish and I loved it. My Dad's full name was Patrick Joseph Callaghan and I couldn't have been more proud.

Grandma Callaghan, left, and my Dad, Patrick Joseph Callaghan.

In those days it was assumed that all us girls would dutifully marry and change our names and I can remember trying out other surnames and worrying that if I married an Englishman all traces of my Irishness would be lost: Lynda Jones? Lynda Smith? I couldn't bear the thought. 

Of course, for a while we had Jim Callaghan as Prime Minister so thankfully, everyone could spell my name.  (Dirty Harry Callahan just confused things).These days it's back to spelling it out every time and correcting the various versions that come in by post and email.

So I'll continue to look forward to the next post from the 100 most popular Irish surnames, thrilled that a name within my family circle has appeared but secretly pleased that my own will appear higher up the scale  (I hope!)

Find out more about the name MORAN and look through for your own at Your Irish Family 
Read more here about Greta Callaghan/Tommy Holt and Annie King/John Moran  and their early lives in Leicester.

If you'd like to be involved contact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:
The Emerald Centre, Gipsy Lane, Leicester. LE5 OTB

We're now also on Twitter: follow me on  @irishleicester

Click here to view a map of The Irish in Leicester.


  1. Hi Lynda! Thank you very much for the mention in your blog above! Hopefully the brief outline history we post with the crest of each family surname (on our 'Genelogy' Blog page) will tempt anybody with Irish ancestry to try and dig a bit further into their own personal Irish family history, who knows what you will discover! We also want to encourage people to follow up their Irish ancestral trails and come 'home' to Ireland for The Gathering of the world Irish in 2013! By the way Lynda, not long to go now, the Callaghans are no.43! Slainte! Best wishes, Pete at Your Irish Family. e-mail:

    1. Even though I was born here in Leicester I'm tempted myself to go back next year and be part of The Gathering. Must get on and think about that more seriously.

  2. A good post, thank you.
    My daughter was born this year on 3/17 and her middle name is Lynda which was something my wife wanted. So neither her first or middle names are Irish which makes me sad but she's got the last name and Saint Patrick's Day will always be her big day.
    All the best to you.
    JM O'Callaghan

    btw, did you know you're spelling your name wrong? It's O' Callaghan. You've lost the O somewhere along the way but it's never to late to change it back! :)