Today’s choice has appealing Irish roots and some old school Hollywood cred.
Thanks to Kelly for suggesting Rory as Name of the Day.
Like Ashley and Kelly and plenty of other masculine monikers, some might think Rory fit for a girl. And indeed plenty of girls have worn Rory, starting with the daughter of Hollywood icon Errol Flynn. (Her sisters were called Deirdre and Arnella; her brother was Sean.) Bobby Kennedy’s youngest daughter – now a documentary filmmaker – is another Rory. It also works as a nickname for feminissa choices like Aurora and Lorelei. There’s a strong case that Rory could go to the girls.
But so far that isn’t so. The name has charted in the US Top 1000 for girls just twice, in 2003 and 2008. That adds up to around 500 newborn girl Rorys, compared to ten times as many boy Rorys in the census data.
Given the reporting technique, female Rorys are probably underreported. Nonetheless, Rory is well established as a boys’ name. In fact, he’s charted in the US Top 1000 every year since 1947.
Rory peaked at #280 in 1959. It was the heyday of Rory Calhoun’s career. Born Francis, the juvenile delinquent turned a pretty face into a steady career on camera, often playing cowboys. News of his past incarcerations eventually leaked to the media – and bolstered his bad boy image. There was nothing feminine about Calhoun, and he still lends a rough’n’tumble, Western vibe to the name.
And why not? The original Rory was a legendary High King of Ireland, Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair. His given name traces back to ruadh – red. It’s the kind of historical link that lends a name strength.
Speaking of royalty, Bill and Melinda Gates used the name Rory for their only son. (Their daughters are Jennifer and Phoebe.)
There’s also Rory O’Moore, the well-born leader of the Irish Rebellion of 1641, standing up to the powerful King Charles I of England with little more than guts and determination on his side. There’s a bridge named after him in Dublin.
Other notable bearers of the name include:
- Rory Culkin, brother to fellow actors Macaulay and Kieran, best known for his role in the thriller Signs;
- There’s also CSI: Miami alum Rory Cochrane, – he played Speed – more recently seen on 24;
- South African golfer Rory Sabbatini and former NBA star Rory Sparrow lend the name a sporting edge. Sparrow also makes Rory more gentlemanly – he used his earnings to fund programs for underprivileged kids and was featured, along with seven other community-minded pro athletes – on a Sports Illustrated for his efforts;
- Rory Stewart is on the faculty at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, heads a major British foundation and is recognized as a global expert on human rights issues;
- On a very different note, in the late 1950s and early 60s, Rory Storm fronted the Liverpool band the Hurricanes. It’s the group’s first drummer that makes the Hurricanes memorable – his name was Ringo Starr.
Overall, I think Rory wears well on a boy. Sure, you might meet a girl called Rory. But the same is true of many names. With his cowboy edge, he could stand in for Wyatt. And his Irish heritage makes him a possible alternative to Riley.