It’s Saint Patrick’s Day today, so of course this week’s sibset is from Ireland. The Hoban family moved to Australia in 2005 from the town of Wicklow, south of Dublin.
After selling their family business, Mr and Mrs Hoban wanted to show their four sons the world, so they went to Adelaide as temporary residents, where Mrs Hoban got a job as a nurse. However, life in Adelaide must have been good to them, because they decided to make it their permanent home.
They wanted to become citizens in 2007, but missed the cut-off by three days, after the law changed so that residents had to be living here for four years instead of two. Their fourth anniversary came up in October 2011, but they decided to delay just a bit further so that they could become citizens on Australia Day this year.
Mr Hoban says that leaving behind their friends, family and jobs was a “huge deal”, but now every time they leave Adelaide and come back, he is so happy he could “kiss the ground”. The youngest Hoban children have spent more than half their lives in Australia, and it means more to them than their country of birth.
Australia has a great fondness for Irish names, so we’ll have a look at the Hobans and see whether they have names already familiar here.
Kevin: Kevin is the father of the family, and as we well know, his name is considered a classic here, and still used fairly often. Luckily he didn’t migrate to Germany or one of the many other nations who don’t view Kevin kindly.
Tona: Tona is Kevin’s wife, and her name is usually taken to be a pet form of the name Antonia. However, there is a Scandinavian name Tona, meaning “fresh thunder”. Although Wicklow is said to have been settled by Vikings, the first one is probably more likely. It’s very similar to names such as Toni and Tonia.
Darragh (20): There are two possible sources for this name, pronounced DAH-rah, although in an Australian accent, I suspect it comes out as DARR-uh. One is that it’s a variant of the name Dara, which means “oak tree”. It is the same source as the name of the city of Derry or Londonderry in Northern Ireland. Oak trees were sacred in Celtic mythology, and there was a sixth century Saint MacDara (son of Dara), who was one of those reclusive island-dwelling hermit saints who flourished in Ireland. He has given his name to the tiny islet off the coast of Connemara on which he sequestered himself. Darragh can also be an Anglicised form of the name Dáire, meaning both “fruitful, fertile, rutting” and “tumult, rage, violence”. There are many kings and heroes of Irish legend with this name, and they may all go back ultimately to a god of the Otherworld. Despite its ancient origins, Darragh came into general use in Ireland fairly recently, so most of us wouldn’t have heard of it yet, although it is currently #16 in Ireland. However, it’s a wonderful name, extremely masculine, and one which I think Australians could easily embrace. It sounds comfortingly like that Aussie standard, Darren, and has also been Latinised as Darius.
Ryan (18): This name is very popular in both Ireland and Australia, although more popular in its country of origin, being #6 at present, while it’s #57 in South Australia.
Cian (14): This means “ancient” in Gaelic, and is pronounced KEE-an or KEEN. It’s another name from Irish legend, and is also recorded as the name of a Welsh poet. Cian is #14 in Ireland, and although it isn’t as popular here, it’s fairly well known and in use. There are also several variants and derivatives used, such as Kian, Keene, Keane, Keenan and so on.
Evin (12): This is the Anglicised form of the Gaelic name Éimhín, which may mean “swift”. There is a sixth century Saint Éimhín, who was from Munster, but a monk at an abbey in County Wexford. He is said to have written a biography of Saint Patrick, which makes it a great name for St Patrick’s Day. Evin is rare in both Ireland and Australia, although the name can also be Anglicised to its soundalike, Evan, and this name is #27 in Ireland and #95 in South Australia. Evin also has his dad’s name, minus the K – perhaps deliberate?
So out of six genuine Irish names, one is a classic, one is popular, one is in use, and the other three have a familiar sound to them and seem very usable.