Ita Eames scans the year's birth announcements to find the most popular names for newborns
from the Irish Times Thursday, 31 December 1998
In the Irish Times birth announcements for 1998, the two leaders in the boys' Top 10 Stakes were running neck and neck coming into the last lap. Matthew just pipped Conor at the finishing post - a good result for a runner who didn't even qualify last year. Another surprise is the near elimination from the Top 10 list of David, who just made it at 10th place.
In the girls' list, Sophie maintains top billing for the second consecutive year. Sarah, in second place, regains her former prominence, having dropped to 10th place last year. Grace achieves the Top 10 list for the first time. Missing this year are Isobel, Ellen, Rachel and Aoife. It is good to record that my own name figures this year in the announcement of little Íde Mulloy's birth on April 21st. This year, too, for the first time in many years, the once very popular Ann was recorded as a first name.
Among the unusual names for girls in 1998 we find the rare and lovely Irish name Tuathla, "princess of the people". Other uncommon names chosen are Skye, Paris, Fadbh, Feargha, Éle, Avice and Billie-Kate.
Some of this year's names have a distinctly foreign ring with, for boys, Kjell, Beppi, Gaspare, Nikolai and Roberto, and, for girls, Tu Sun A Yi, Azizza, Freyja, Monique, Marieke, Safia and Zulfuye.
In regard to middle names, a convention that came into use in the 17th century, some unusual ones recorded this year included Annesley, Cramer, Kennedy, Brabazon and Livingstone. While in the past some middle names did eventually achieve first name status, one wonders if any of the foregoing names will gain that promotion. Middle names have, of course, long been chosen as a token of love for a family member, as happens this year when Anna Maria Bunty is so named "in the hope she will inherit some of her great-grandmother Bunty's wit and wisdom".
Some parents this year struck a note of finality. Morgan Richard Murphy-Barry, "a most gorgeous baby boy" was "The Finale". The arrival of twins Christopher and Peter Stockton ensures that "the five-a-side team is complete". And while John Patrick Garrett FitzGerald was "a son for Dad", he was "a final count for Mum".
A show-biz future surely lies ahead for little thespian Dara Thomas with his "Ta-Daaaa! arrived - at last. Well, you didn't expect me not to make an entrance, did you?"
Another newcomer makes his début in: The Life of Matthew Starring and directed by Matthew James McCormack Co-starring proud parents James and Lucy Late night features: 1.00, 4.00 and 6.00 a.m. Book early for daytime showings
There were 1,327 birth announcements in 1998, compared to 1,320 in 1997, with boys outnumbering girls by 679 (648 in 1997) to 648 (672 in 1997). There were 22 sets of twins, compared to 30 sets in 1997.
Finally, let us salute a baby with a splendid roll-call of middle names, a long-awaited daughter, Lara Síoth Lacey Anna Livia.
The Top 10 Names of 1997: