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.