Research into the popularity of forenames in Ireland over the past 100 years, derived from extensive birth records, has shown that the most ‘critical’ on the list are those that have seemingly disappeared (by not being selected as first names for new babies) and include Gertrude, Ethel and Muriel for girls and Herbert, Norman and Cecil for boys.
Compiled by comparing the popularity of forenames from 1917 to 2017 using Ancestry.ie’s birth record collections, the research shows that many more names are labelled ‘endangered’, having fallen drastically in popularity for new-borns today despite being among the top 100 names in 1917.
For girls, the first name Mary has become ‘endangered’ since 1917.
For boys, Joseph saw the biggest drop in popularity, by 97%.
Lastly, there are those that, whilst still being selected, are significantly less common and tend to dip in and out of fashion – identified as ‘at risk’.
Boys names such as William and Patrick have fallen by 96% and 95% respectively.
Alongside this, girls names such as Ellen, Elizabeth and Annie have fallen by 97%, 96% and 95% respectively.
Many popular names from the early 20th century have also evolved to their shorter form, which has replaced their previous name in popularity.
This trend has seen Alex overtake Alexander, Theo overtake Theodore and Charlie become far more popular now than Charles.
The same applies to girls’ names, with Catherine making way for Kate and Ella overtaking Eleanor.
Names deemed as ‘Extinct’ (none recorded in last five birth records) for male are Herbert, Norman, Cecil, Bartholomew, Leslie, Cyril, Reginald, Donald, Sylvester, Wallace and Garrett, while for females are Gertrude, Ethel, Eveline, Muriel, Gladys, Sheila, Marion, Doreen, Wilhelmina, Doris, Edna, Letitia, Margaretta and Fanny.
Booming traditional names (risen in popularity from 1917 to 2017) for boys were noted as Adam, Harry and Luke, while for girls Emma, Lucy and Lily have seen the biggest percentage increase in frequency over the 100 year period in question.