Could this Irish surname be the next Bailey?
Thanks to April for suggesting one she’s considering for a daughter. Clancy is our Baby Name of the Day.
Clancy comes from an Irish surname, one that traveled a twisted path from his original form to his current state.
Flann Sinna became High King of Ireland in the late 800s, and he reigned for well over three decades. Flann meant red. A handful of names were inspired by Flann:
- Flynn, via the surname Ó Floinn;
- Flannery, from flann plus a word meaning valor;
- Flannchadh, which led to the surname Mac Fhlannchaidh, which was Anglicized as Clancy.
Most will recognize Clancy as Irish instantly thanks to the musical Clancy Brothers – Paddy, Tom, Bobby, and Liam. The quartet teamed up with fellow Irishman Tommy Makem, and recorded traditional Irish folk songs. After a 1961 performance on the Ed Sullivan Show, they scored a record deal, a Grammy nomination, and international superstardom. The group had their ups and downs, break-ups and reunions. All four of the brothers have passed away, but some of their children have musical careers of their own.
There are others who have worn Clancy in the first spot and as a surname, including:
- Fictional police chief Clancy Wiggum on The Simpsons;
- Best-selling author of spy thrillers, Tom Clancy;
- Actors Clancy Cooper and Clancy Brown. You might recognize Brown from his turn in The Shawshank Redemption – but your kids know him as the voice of Mr. Krabs on SpongeBob SquarePants;
- Early Jamaican reggae artist Clancy Eccles, best known as a member of The Dynamites. His son, Clancy Jr., is also a singer;
- The character Clancy in The Man from Snowy River – adapted for film and television – originated with an 1889 poem by Banjo Paterson in Australia’s The Bulletin, originally titled “Clancy of the Overflow” and apparently based on a real person with the surname Clancy;
- American football coaches Clancy Barone, currently with the Denver Broncos, and college coach Clancy Pendergast. Kendrick Clancy currently plays for the New Orleans Saints.
It’s tough to get a read on Clancy – he stretches from from the hyper-masculine worlds of the gridiron and espionage to the creative realms of music and theater.
Mostly, Clancy stands out as a kelly green Irish heritage pick. He still feels a tiny bit clunky, closer to Clarence than Connor. Still, Nancy tells us that 12 boys were given the name in 2009.
There’s another possibility. Clancy splits the difference between the retro Nancy and the more current Callie. Clancy could be a successor to Bailey and Riley – but for girls. Nancy tells us that 9 girls received the name in 2009.
Either way, there’s something upbeat and unexpected about Clancy. He would be refreshing in the middle spot, and undeniably Irish as a given name.
S Clancy says
I named my daughter Clancy. My maiden name was Clancy. I think it is a great tribute to my family and heritage. The positive is so many people name kids surname now, that its normal. She goes to school/ activities with a least four other kids with surname as a first name. They are name after grandparents or great grandparents surname and I find myself telling other the story behind there first name as a surname. Which I love. We call my daughter Clancy Rose, CR for short. Just in case Clancy was to masculine. If I picked a traditional name it would have been so over populated she would have been called Clancy anyway. At the end of the day all the Katie and Ashley all go bye their last name when in school. So might as well name your child a surname. If you like it.
my name is Clancie and its not spelled like Clancy
Bit late to this forum but as a fellow Clancy (and yes, female!) i have to say I wouldn’t change my name for the world. I too have yet to meet another female called Clancy (or male for that matter) but get many compliments and questions about where my name comes from and how I got to be called it. It depends on what context you’ve heard it before, but clearly there are females who are managing to live their day to day lives with this name. Show it some love!
I have never known another Girl named Clancy, but I get many complements on my name every day. A lot of people don’t realize it’s originally a male name, at least the people who have talked to me. I think Clancy is a good name for a girl or boy.
I actually only heard this as a girl’s name. My grandfather (very Irish) suggested it as a name for my dog as a child. She was the best dog I have ever had – sweet and gentle, but curious and playful too. That’s what I think of when I hear the name
My husband and are expecting our second child and were thinking on naming her Elizabeth Clancy
My name is Clancy Elizabeth!
I’m a female Clancy, and I hated it for years. It just sounded goofy.
BUT I always hated it more when people thought I said my name was Nancy. (such a prissy, nana name)
Now, at 20 years old, I’ve come to like it. I like boyish names on girls, and it suits me. It’s different, and like that about it.
There’s nothing worse than names that everyone has.
So, even if it’s a bit goofy sounding… I’ve grown into it.
I’m glad to hear you’ve grown into your name! That’s the challenge with naming a child – I actively disliked (and changed) my super-common Top Ten name. But then, my mother chose it because she hated her incredibly unusual one-of-one name. Funny how that works … or doesn’t!
I peeked here this morning. I am not surprised at the reaction, but I still love the name for a girl. I am pleased no one said that it sounds like a cat name =). I have heard that one before. My husband vetoed this name a little while ago. I think we are going to use Eleanor instead. I am sad that I have to bypass this, but there is always a chance of another baby (or a new cat).
I agree with Joy in that Clancy doesn’t seem masculine enough for a boy but I wouldn’t automatically assume it was a girl’s name, either.
I don’t hate it but there’s something about the sound or look that seems incomplete. I certainly prefer it to Nancy (and Riley and Flannery for that matter).
I just don’t like the sound of the name. Clancy. It sounds whiny and pompous to me… all wet or something. If I try to say it out loud, the name escapes in a whining accent every time. I can’t help it!
And for some reason it evokes images of a horse. Are there any references to a horse named Clancy in film or literature?
And Kelly makes for a fantastic boy name.
I agree! Makes me swoon every time.
Thumbs down from me too, always associated this name with Clarence.
It does seem similar to Nancy, but I dont think of that name immediately. But then what makes Kelly sound female and Nelly male? Perhaps the rapper. What makes Bonnie sound female and Ronnie male? Jerry vs Kerry? Miley vs Wiley? Jimmy vs Kimmy? Honor vs Connor? Haley vs Daley? Macy vs Casey? Jen vs Ken? Molly vs Olly? Florence vs Clarence? Lauren vs Warren? Lynn vs Wynn? Beth vs Seth? Faye vs Taye? Joy vs Roy? Tammy vs Sammy? Jillian vs William? Lilian vs Adrian? Carrie vs Larry? Madison vs Anderson? Jane vs Wayne? Jade vs Kade? so many others
I realise several examples of girls names above are actually male in origin, but most people perceive them as female these days.
One of my favorite questions, Skye! I don’t have an answer – at least not a well-thought out one – but I think our perception of a name’s gender has little to do with its origins and everything to do with our understanding of its recent use.
I wish Bonnie/y, Ivy, Ruby and some of the virtue names such as Joy and Connie(Constance) were still “socially acceptable for boys. I could enjoy these names on both sexes.
A friend of ours has a nephew who is the fourth in his family with his given name. They call him IV – Ivy. Always loved that story.
well Joy was recently used on a celeb’s kid – the baby is a boy 🙂 I think it’s perfectly fine.
Charlotte Vera says
I’ve known a number of male Joy’s, but they were all Indian (in India, the name is usually masculine). Actually, one of my teachers growing up was “Mr. Joy” — Joy was his given name, not his surname.
Aidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities says
I LOVE the name Clancy. I think this would have been a front-runner for us if our surname didn’t end in “ley.” I just think her name would have been a bit too sing-song. I know one little girl with this name and she is a gem. All thumbs up from me!
The Kurgan in The Highlander/Voice of Mr Krabs. Great association in actor, Clancy Brown, but a comical choice as a name for either sex.
And *razz* to the unattractive argument. Gross.
I know a woman in her forties named Clancy and to me it has always seemed to fit her perfectly.
I have an Uncle who married into a Clancy family, so my first though is his nephews’ surname, then Mr. Brown (as the Kurgan in Highlander) and finally Tom Clancy. To my ear it’s completly male.
I’m not a huge fan of place names as given names, but maybe Delancey instead? At least it “feels” feminine…
Clancy from The Man From Snowy River! I’m so glad you mentioned that, it’s one of our favorite family classics. Every time I hear Clancy, this is the image in my head-a rough, rugged cowboy with a handlebar mustache. For this reason, Clancy (with a definite Aussie accent) would be the perfect dog or horse name. On a kid? Not sold.
Wow – Clancy does not get much love.
I really like Nancy – it’s so far out of fashion that I find her fun. And, you know, Nancy Drew. So maybe that’s why Clancy seems like a capable, fun name that could wear well on a girl.
But then … I really don’t mind boys’ names on girls, at least some of the time. More on that in a future post.
Theoretically, I like girly names on boys so I shouldn’t mind boys names on girls but I do. It runs something like this in my head “well, if she’s pretty, it doesn’t matter, but what if she’s not?” On a guy, a girly name doesn’t seem more girly if he’s ugly or pretty. And since I know a handful of guys with ‘girly’ names, but no girls with guy names (except for the little sweetie across the street with my Last name as her first)!
I’d love to see a post on girly guy names and guy-ish girl names. Maybe the merits of both sorts? I’m going to have happy dreams tonight that Clancy strikes most as masculine. Makes me so—- happy! 😀
“If she’s pretty, it doesn’t matter, but if she’s not?”
SO TRUE. I have known a few unfortunate girls in the looks department with unisex names and it somehow seems to compound the issue. But for me, I would question girly names for boys as “What if he’s not cool enough to pull it off?”
Sad and unfair, but I think you’re right, Caroline.
I’ll have to think about that, Lola. There’s something else that I’m working on in a similar key …
Sarah A says
Lola, I completely agree! I don’t generally like gender neutral names, but some (looking at you Shannon) I just LOVE on BOYS 🙂
Totally “boy” to me too.
Charlotte Vera says
I’m another who read this article and thought, “Clancy is undeniably masculine to my ears”. I realise that there were almost as many female Clancy’s born last year as males, but I personally would have a hard time cooing “Clancy” at a little pink bundle without feeling odd.
Sarah A says
I have to agree with most of the previous comments, Clancy reads total boy to me. But because it rhymes with Nancy I don’t like it for a boy either. My MIL is a big Tom Clnacy fan so that’s my first and pretty much only association with Clancy.
Original surname + masculine/gender neutral = my two least favorite things in a girls name. Clancy gets a thumbs down from me.
Ick. Clancy is too masculine for a girl, but too feminine for a boy. Rhymes with Nancy, end of argument.
Also, Clancy reminds me of Chauncey. Plus, I went to school with a very nerdy Y@ncey.
Even if this was a beloved surname in my own family tree, I wouldn’t consider it.
I love Clancy on a boy but since I also love Percy more I won’t be using it.
I meant to post this with the rest: Panya, Yancy is a favorite of mine, I wouldn’t mind Yancy on a girl, it feels softer and more feminine than Clancy!
Count me in the “Clancy is a boy” camp too! Clarence, nn Clancy is my #2 name for a boy. I think Clancy is fabulous, strong, handsome & jazzy smooth. Clancy Brown is Awesome! Inspiring, even (since he’s my Clancy as a nickname for Clarence inspiration). So yeah, Clancy’s all boy to me.
Funny you say that. I went to school with a boy named Cl@rence Cl@ncy. He went by Cl@re.
Really? How cool, Lyndsay! I adore Clare on a boy, but no one else seems to. I figure a Clarence of mine can be Clare at home & Clancy out & about. Maybe too much?
I don’t think it’s too much at all! I love Clare on a boy. That Clare was the first one I ever knew (of either gender), and no one made fun of him for having a girls name or anything like that, so to me it totally works for a boy. Clarence Clare/Clancy would be a great choice for you!
Now Clare on a boy, I love! If Clio had been a boy, Clare might have been added into his name somewhere.
Charlotte Vera says
Oooh, I’m a fan of both Clarence and Clare on a boy! I’d love to be able to use Clarence as a nod to my grandfather (his middle name), but I think it would be rather difficult for a young boy to pull off at the moment.
When I hear Clancy I think first of Brown [who is an utterly fantastic actor; born Clarence J. Brown III], then of Wiggum. It’s one of those names that I think works well on a character, but not so much IRL. Sort of like Percy — they have the same feel to me.
I don’t think it works at all on a girl. It makes me think of Yancy.
The Foxymoron says
I know a guy in his 20s named Clancy. I can not imagine it on a girl! Bailey has those two vowel-heavy syllables, but Clancy seems so much clankier. Still, if people can name their daughter Locklyn or Chaplin, then Clancy is fair game, I guess!