Saturday, October 29, 2016

On Irish Saints' Names and Family Names


Molly posts a photograph of the two churches in Nevada City, stranded  on opposite sides of the freeway, St. Canice's & Trinity Episcopal. If you stand just so, you can see both spires at once. Two churches separated by road and by faith.

Few know that Canice was an Irish saint, Cainnech moccu Dalánn, he was born in Glengiven, Ireland, and was a close friend of St. Columba's. Helped convert the Picts. 

I'm sure everybody mispronounces the church name. That's Canice, not Candace—which drove my aunt Canice crazy. Just. Don't.

My aunt Canice, the last child in line, was named after a dude. Yep. That would be Kenneth, in English, or Anguish as my grannie would say... 

The name gave my aunt Canice much anguish during her lifetime. She gave up trying to correct people and eventually went by the handle of Candy. People couldn't screw that name up. How sweet.

Sort of like why I cowped to using Mo vs. Maureen after resisting for decades. Not that there was a Saint Maureen, but it means Little Mary, or bitter herbs. Take your pick.

It's a good thing my granny didn't choose St. Kevin. Can you imagine what would've happened with the moniker, Caoimhín, in the mouths of the English speakers? 

Keeping in the family tradition of unpronounceable Irish names, Canice named her only daughter  Sinead, after my grandmother. You'd think she would've known better.  I guess it could've been Siobhan. St. Joan.

My cousin Sinead doesn't let anyone read her nametag at work, their eyes get all tangled up in the random assortment of vowels. And she won't give her real name out to baristas—it comes out as Sin-head, or Sineed! We liked Sinhead. It makes us laugh. 

All this naming after saints in my family to keep us in line. Not that it ever took.

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