Dashiell is stylish, and Cash is king. Could this Irish import combine the best of both?
Thanks to Kristin for suggesting Cashel as our Baby Name of the Day.
Even for the most die-hard name aficionado, Cashel might be a relatively new option. Daniel Day-Lewis chose the name for his second son in 2002, a little brother for Ronan.
Cashel comes from the Irish caiseal – stone fort or ringfort. There’s a Cashel on the map in South Tipperary, Ireland, but the meaning is more than mere geography.
The Rock of Cashel was the traditional seat of the kings of Munster. Tales of legendary High Kings ruling from the stronghold blur with the historically accurate. Brian Boru fought for Cashel, and ruled there.
As if the rock’s royal significance wasn’t enough, the story of Cashel’s origins is equally meaningful. It is said that Saint Patrick himself threw down with the devil in a cave not so far from Cashel. When the saint triumphed, rock flew all the way to form the base of Cashel. Some say that it was Saint Patrick himself who converted the King of Munster to Christianity right there, on the rock wrested from the devil, in the 400s.
Visit Cashel today, and you’ll find that the oldest buildings date only to the 1100s or so. There’s a thirteenth century cathedral, plus the castle itself, which was finished sometime in the 1400s. But the site’s roots are not in contention. In fact, there’s an early medieval text called “The Story of the Finding of Cashel” that dates to the 700s.
All of that history is enough to encourage parents to consider the name, but there’s more to Cashel’s story. George Bernard Shaw penned Cashel Byron’s Profession in 1892, originally as a serial in a magazine. Some time later, it caught on in the US, and Shaw also wrote a short piece for the stage based on his earlier tale.
Shaw’s Cashel is a prizefighter – a champ – at a time when prizefighting is not the done thing. He’s head over heels for the well-born Lydia, and manages to attract her attention without revealing his day job. Still, Lydia doesn’t mind Cashel’s rough edges, and they end happily – he abandons the boxing ring, she agrees to be his wife.
Cashel doesn’t carry the literary intensity of a true hero name – he’s not as well known as Jane Austen’s Emma, not as purely good as Cervantes’ Don Quixote. But Shaw’s use of Cashel gives it additional credibility as a given name.
But most parents probably arrive at Cash via his appealing first syllable. With parents considering Cassian and Cassius, why not Cashel? He’s an Irish heritage pick that leads to a quintessentially American cowboy short form. And still, Cashel has never appeared in the US Top 1000. Nancy tells us there were just 21 born in 2009.
Tally it up, and Cashel could be the perfect choice.