Thanks to Kristin for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.
MEANING OF THE NAME CASHEL
Cashel comes from the Irish caiseal – stone fort or ringfort.
It’s the name of a town in South Tipperary, Ireland, but the specific meaning is so much 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.
That alone is enough to make this a thoroughly Irish heritage choice.
But there’s more.
As if the rock’s royal significance wasn’t enough, it’s said that Saint Patrick himself battled 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.
That colors the nature of the name, adding in a spiritual element, and a triumphant one, too.
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.
So how did Cashel go from place name to a possible choice for a new baby?
Cashel and Cashell appear as surnames. In some cases, they’re related to the famous Rock. Other times, they’re derived from similar names, like Cassell or Castel.
In 1892, George Bernard Shaw published Cashel Byron’s Profession, originally as a serial in a magazine. It was eventually adapted into The Admirable Bashville, a stage play, in 1901.
Shaw’s Cashel is a prizefighter – a champ – at a time when prizefighting is disreputable. It’s generally illegal, so even though he’s the best of the best, Mr. Byron is not welcome in polite society.
Despite this, Cashel falls head over heels for the well-born Lydia Carew, and manages to attract her attention without revealing his day job. Still, Lydia doesn’t mind Cashel’s rough edges, and the pair eventually marry.
It wasn’t enough to push the baby name Cashel into use in the US, though.
BY the NUMBERS
In fact, the baby name Cashel first appears in the United States popularity data in the year 2003.
Actor Daniel Day Lewis welcomed a son named Cashel in 2002, a younger brother for Ronan and Gabriel. The Academy Award winner has long split his time between England and Ireland, and holds dual citizenship. That likely explains his choice of Irish baby boy names.
But why was that the moment American parents sat up and noticed?
Blame it on Cash names.
Cash fits with rock star surname names like Lennon and Hendrix.
Variations abound, many of them with significant backstories. There’s ancient Cassius and the related Cassian, which has since become a heavy hitter in the Star Wars universe. When it comes to names of Irish origin, there’s Cashel.
But Daniel Day-Lewis is famously private. Unlike Maddox Jolie-Pitt, originally adopted by mom Angelina Jolie in 2002, Cashel Day-Lewis was never in the spotlight as a child.
Now he’s all grown up and working as a composer, so it’s possible that could change.
But for the last few decades, US data shows only modest occurrences of the name.
48 boys were named Cashel in 2020, an all-time high. For 2022, that number was just 33 births.
What explains the 2020 bump? Probably Love Island contestant Cashel Barnett. The California native appeared on the reality dating series’ very first US season in 2019.
Overall, the boy’s name Cashel has never been used in a way that would capture the attention of enough parents to make an impact.
If you prefer unique names with Irish roots, the baby name Cashel could be the perfect choice.
It’s easy to spell and pronounce. The meaning of Cashel – both the literal one, as well as the ties to the legendary fortress – signal strength and tie to history.
Plus, Cashel is easy to spell and pronounce. And while it’s sometimes used as a last name, it reads more like a first name – an alternative to Cassius and company, and not as bold as just Cash.
Even if your roots aren’t anywhere near County Tipperary, the baby name Cashel feels like an Irish import that could easily be worn by nearly anyone. It’s the perfect name for parents after an undiscovered gem that fits in and stands out at once.
What do you think of the baby name Cashel?
First published on December 10, 2010, this post was revised and republished on November 11, 2023.