There are too many Marys in this family.
I try not to tease my husband about names in his big Chicago Irish Catholic family, since my western Mormon family has naming idiosyncracies of its own, but it can be both amusing and complicated to call for someone in the extended family at gatherings.
In the inner circle, there are two Marys, three Patricks, two Larrys and two Roberts. One of my husband's daughters named all of her children after her siblings, so she has a Mary, a Patrick, a (Timothy) Thomas and a John (I've always wondered if a fifth would have been named after her).
Researching the family's Irish roots is no different. Patrick and Mary left Ireland together in the first place.
Growing up Mormon, I wasn't used to the the catholicity of naming after saints. I didn't realize that names like 'Virginia' and 'Regina' were also names for the Virgin Mary, or how many variations of that name were possible (think 'Madonna' and 'Marie'). My Chicago sister-in-law managed to name every one of her several daughters after that most revered of all female saints, with names like 'Marion,' 'Maria' (who became 'Diz'), and 'Mary Jo.'
All other women in this family seemed to be named after the mother or cousin of the Virgin Mary, Anne or Elizabeth, to keep it tidy.
Mormons have their own pecular eccentricities when it comes to naming children, with some families opting for historical names like Brigham, Eliza or Parley, or names plucked from Book of Mormon characters like Moroni or Lehi. Even stranger is the curious obsession with naming children with a combination of the parents' names (a mother named Eleanor an a father named LaDell becomes 'Nordell,' for example, which my physician brother-in-law proudly wears). Utah and Idaho are filled with names like JoDean and LaVaughn (which differ substantially from the double-barrelled hyphenated last names like Bowes-Lyon or Aston-Smythe). Entire websites are devoted to the phenomenon of Utah baby naming.
One of my sisters initially named her children after where they were conceived, so 'Makena' came from their favorite beach in Maui where they honeymooned. My sister's second became 'Brooklynn Madison' when she got pregnant over our wedding weekend, not because of any fun outing in the Big Apple, but because there seemed to be no glamorous names to extract from central Wisconsin (Brook-Lynn is yes, a hyphenization), and Howard Johnsons seemed out of the question. To her credit, my sister has given most of her daughters more traditional first names ('Sierra' is actually 'Mary Sierra' and 'Makena' is actually 'Stephanie Makena') so they can choose later in life if they'd prefer the orthodox 'I want a name that speaks Wall Street" route.
I came of age at the end of the Woodstock era when names like 'Rainbow,' 'Summer' and 'Sunshine' were popular antiwar summer of love monikers. Somewhere in my teenage diary is a list of names I thought I'd gift my children which includes a smattering of those, along with my favorite, Megan Claire, which my brother substantially took out of circulation with his first daughter. Eventually, the Rainbows, Summers and Sunshines went on to Silicon Valley and gave birth to Elijahs, Jacobs and Logans of their own.
On those rare occasions when I tease my husband about the names in his family, he is quick to point to the Nordells and Makenas in my own, and the absurd possibilities that could arise from naming children after where they were conceived (like 'Mustang' or 'Porsche'), the hyphenizations from hell (like LeBron or DaRich), or favorite place names gone wrong (LeTetons or LaSnake). My chorus line of cousins includes a Wyoma and Cody, Raylene and Shae.
A Mary or two might be nice. We seem to have an oversupply.
(photo credit: the notebook doodles)