I've noticed that many Irish people use both their English and Irish versions of the name.

For example, Moya Brennan, born Máire Ní Bhraonáin

  1. Can someone tell me what is the official status of these 2 different names?

  2. Do both the names appear in the passport/ID or just the Irish, thus making the English variation an unofficial name used in English context? Would Máire change her name to Moya is she would move to England?

  3. Are Irish traditional names still in use today, or does the anglicized form prevail in modern times?

Thank you.

  • 1
    Irish Gaelic names are definitely still in use within the Gaeltacht. English law doesn't really have the concept of "official name" so there's no reason not to continue using both depending on context. We'll have to wait for someone with an Irish passport to answer the detailed question.
    – pjc50
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 12:29
  • 1
    What do you mean English law doesn't have a concept of "official name"? Isn't there just one name on the passport? That's what I would call "official name".
    – PixelPower
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 12:32
  • 3
    Yes, you can only have one name on a passport, and it's much more convenient if all your documents have the same name, but it's not actually a legal requirement to use only one name. Transgender people often spend years going by a name that doesn't appear on official documents.
    – pjc50
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 12:47
  • 1
    You can (even in a court of law) call yourself whatever you want, so long as you accept the difficulties; for example, getting a passport in a different name to that on your birth certificate is hard, or if an elderly aunt leaves some money to you under a name by which nobody calls you any more, you will have to prove when the change took place. Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 13:29
  • 2
    I discovered a few days ago that, at least in the UK, you can have more than one name on your passport. One is the primary one, and so the closest to an "official" name we have; but you can get another name, eg a professional or stage name, added to a UK passport.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 14:27

1 Answer 1

  1. Irish citizens have the legal right in Ireland to use the Irish or English version of their name. This law has historical roots and significance. A full elaboration on this subject would include reference to many years of imperial "attention" from our esteemed neighbours who "gifted" us their wonderful language (Google: tally stick irish language).
  2. Only one version is recorded on their birth certificate and there is no legal protection for using them interchangeably but this is tolerated in many circumstances. An Irish person (with an Irish name) living outside Ireland may choose to Anglicise their name for other people's convenience. Moya is an English approximation of how Máire is pronounced in North West Ireland (Donegal). Interestingly the name of the singer Enya is similarly a phonetic approximation of Eithne from that region.
  3. This question has the same answer as would the question "Are English traditional names still in use today?" Naming is cultural and socio-economic but we don't all call our children Jayden and Beyoncé and many traditional names exist.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.