What’s in a Name?

Image: Artistic Rendition of Our Cabin.

Kennard and I have often given our homes and our boats Celtic names, as a reflection of our Celtic ancestry. For example, our home in Prince Rupert was called “Creag Faoiltiarna Fitheach“, which is Gaelic for “crag of the the wolf and raven” (both of which are common in Prince Rupert and have significance to us). However, we were having a hard time naming our new home. Should the name reflect the land (50 acres of forest) or the house/home?

A number of elements of our new home stood out strongly in our minds. We were enthralled by the cheerful, lilting voices of the land – the incredible bird songs, the sounds of the wind, the trees, the rain, the streams. We felt the remoteness of the site, the wilderness arund us. We wished to capture the concept of warmth and coziness that we wanted to imbue our cabin with. We hoped to express how important being near the sea was to our dreams, the land, and our livelihood. How does one capture all these concepts in a single name?

During our search for a name, we came across many beautiful Gaelic words which resonated with us, both spiritually and as a descriptor of our new home, such as:

  • tir – land
  • àit or àite – place
  • tigh – house or cottage
  • mara or farraige– sea
  • cladach – seashore
  • coille or foraoise – forest
  • dithreabh – wilderness, hermitage
  • tásach or fásach – wilderness
  • fiàin – wild
  • neidin – “little nest”, spot of rest or safety
  • cluthar or clumhor or clomhor – warm, sheltered, snug, cozy, comfortable
  • ceòlmhor or canadh – singing
  • ceol – music
  • oran – song

Putting words together to make a sensible name was challenging, however. We wanted a name that captured as much of our sense of place as we could, while at the same time being gramatically correct Gaelic and not just some sort of made-up gibberish (which many non-Gaelic speakers such as ourselves often end up creating). We also wanted a name that sounded pleasant to the ear and was not too difficult for most Canadians to pronounce. Apparently, a lot of things go into a name!

Ultimately, after much pondering, we settled on two names – one for the place (or land) and the other for our home. We felt that the land had so strongly spoken to us in its many voices that it is “tir ceòlmhor” – the singing land. The home we are building for ourselves is meant to be “àite cluthar” – our cozy place, where we are warm, sheltered, and comfortable.

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