He’s royal, historic and terribly obscure. But he’s more dashing than Donald.
Thanks to Bevin for suggesting another one from her family tree. Today’s Name of the Day is Donncha.
There are a raft of possible variants for the Gaelic Donncha, including Donnchadh, Donnchad, Donough and Donagh. They all come from donn – brown and chadh – warrior. None of them are terribly accessible to American English speakers – in fact, the most common translation of all is the eminently wearable Duncan.
Then again, Duncan might sound too trendy for parents seeking an authentic heritage choice. While he only ranked #717 in 2008 – and has never climbed higher than the 300s – with so many two-syllable, ends-in-n names for boys in use, it’s no longer the most distinctive sound or rhythm.
Elisabeth at You Can’t Call It “It” spotted at least one Donncha in a British birth announcment. And we all know that the Americans often follow the English, adopting their favorites a few years later.
Still, Donncha’s pronunciation is a possible headache. While DUN uh is probably the most accurate version, it’s easy to imagine Donna coming out instead. On a playground full of boys called Noah and Ezra, that might not be a disaster.
And there are plenty of distinguished Donnchas in the history books, including:
- At least two High Kings of Ireland, and a trio of other Irish rulers through the early eleventh century;
- Eight mormaers of Scotland – an early medieval title for a high ranking member of the aristocracy – as well as two kings;
- A handful of poets and historians;
- Even a saint – though the eighth-century priest is also referred to as Dunichad and was often Latinized as Donatus.
Today, if you happen to follow Irish rugby, the name might be familiar through the Cork Constitution Football Club. The six-foot-six Donncha O’Callaghan plays lock for the team. (And probably never worries about being mistaken for a girl.)
Would a modern parent choose Donncha for a son? It’s hard to say. One indicator is over at BabyCenter, where he’s barely a blip on their charts. Likewise, Namipedia and Nameberry give Donncha the miss. And while the nickname Don is worn with style by television characters Don Draper of Mad Men and Don Flack of CSI:NY, it is still far from fashionable.
Overall, Donncha is intriguing. His history makes him a viable contender for an Irish heritage choice. But he could be tricky to wear for a boy circa 2009, and isn’t nearly as likely to catch on as Duncan, Callum or Cormac. Of course, that might suit some parents just fine.