Use of Different Surnames interchangeably

The use of entirely different names interchangeably by the same person prevails in Ireland to a much greater extent than is commonly supposed. This is principally owing to the differences in language—many of these being cases of translation of Irish names into English, or vice versa, or equivalents, modifications, or corruptions of them. There are, however, other cases which cannot apparently be accounted for in this way.

Registration officers are sometimes placed in considerable doubt which name to record. A Registrar recently reported that some families are invariably called by other than their real names, and that it is often a matter of some difficulty to ascertain the correct name.

A Superintendent Registrar writes:—“If any local person called at the office to know if Christopher Sherwin had registered the death of a friend, he would ask, was the information given by ‘Kitty Sharvin.’ A man living within a hundred yards of James Fitzpatrick or Christopher O’Malley, would never know who was meant unless they were called ‘Jem Parrican’ or ‘Kit Melia’; there are many such cases, and yet those are not what are called nicknames.”

It is proposed to refer first to the cases of English and Irish names used synonymously, and then to other cases not falling within that category.