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Doris has had its day, as new research reveals which baby names are going 'extinct' in Ireland

A study of Irish birth records by Ancestry revealed which names have fallen from usage since 1917.

Image: Shutterstock

IT’S A NAME associated with Irish people around the world, but when it comes to naming their newborn children, Ireland’s parents are no longer keen on Patrick.

New research has revealed that the name of our patron saint is 95% less fashionable for newborn Irish boys than it was 100 years ago, and could even be at risk of ‘extinction’.

The finding is part of a study carried out by family history company Ancestry into forenames in Ireland over the past century, which looked at how certain names have flourished or dwindled in popularity over time.

Three categories are detailed in the study, which was compiled by comparing the popularity of forenames from 1917 to 2017 using the company’s birth record collections.

The most ‘critical’ names on the list are those which have seemingly disappeared, having not been selected as first names for new babies in the last five birth records.

Endangered

These ‘extinct’ names include Doris, Edna, Gertrude, Sheila and Eveline for girls, while Cyril, Cecil, Donald, Leslie and Bartholomew have fallen out of use for boys.

Other names have been labelled ‘endangered’ after falling drastically in popularity for newborns today, despite being among the top 100 names in 1917.

For girls, the first name Mary has become ‘endangered’ in the last century, while for boys, Joseph saw the biggest drop in popularity, with its usage down by 97% since 1917.

In the final category, common names that tend to dip in and out of fashion have been identified as ‘at risk’, and this includes girls’ names such as Elizabeth and Annie and boys’ names such as William and Patrick.

The study found that far more girls’ names have dropped in popularity compared with boys.

This is believed to be because many men’s names are passed on from father to son, where mothers’ names are more likely to be selected as middle names, rather than forenames.

Shortened names

At the other end of the scale, the research revealed how other names have significantly increased popularity since 1917.

For girls, the names Emma (555% increase), Lucy (472%) and Lily (331%) saw the biggest rises, while for boys, Adam (1,396%), Harry (979%) and Luke (708%) proved the most popular compared with a century ago.

Many popular names from 100 years ago were also found to have evolved into their shorter forms and replaced their previous names in popularity.

This trend has seen Alex overtake Alexander, Theo overtake Theodore and Charlie become more popular than Charles.

The same applies to girls’ names, with Catherine making way for Kate and Ella overtaking Eleanor.

Commenting on the findings, Ancestry spokesman Russell James said that while no name can ever truly become extinct, it was fascinating to look at how names have gone out of fashion or boomed in the last 100 years.

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