Favorite Names

What’s in a name?  Well with my Irish ancestors nicknames took on a lot of importance.  There were so many Patrick and Ellens, John and Marys, how would we tell them apart.

So my favorite names are all nicknames.

Take for example two brothers James and Jeremiah McCarthy both had daughters and named them Ellen, or Nellie for short.  So to distinguish between them, they were known as Nellie Jim and Nellie Jer.  But then to complicate things further the two Nellie McCarthys then both married Shannons.  So now they were known as Nellie Bill and Nellie Dave so everyone knew which Nellie was married to which Shannon!

There were many other intriguing nicknames in this family.

  • The Little Mother – the first Ellen who was the matriarch and it seems, the glue that held the family together.
  • The Governor  – Jim
  • The Missus Over – Jim’s wife Kate because they lived over the hill
  • The Governor at the Park –  Jer’s property was called Lancefield Park.
  • The Missus at the Park – Jer’s wife Mary
  • Beheavens the Chap – Pats brother Jack – Don’t ask.  I don’t know why!


  1. Names can cause a complete halt to finding your way backwards! I have found it impossible to find out WHICH John (or Charles, or William) is “mine” so cannot go any further back. I have found a few very odd names – but no nicknames!!


    1. I am fortunate that my elderly father has been able to share all the nicknames. They are not recorded anywhere that I am aware of except in the stories I am sharing. So hopefully someday that may be of use to someone.


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