The last native speaker of Manx Gaelic — a fisherman named Ned — died in the mid-1970s.
Since then, one of the ways the Isle of Man has attempted to keep the Manx language alive is through baby names.
In mid-2003, the government released a short booklet, “Some Manx First Names” (pdf), to encourage expectant parents to give their babies traditional Manx names.
In recent years there has been an increase in the use of Manx names but often prospective parents were only aware of the more common names. The booklet includes the more popular names, for example Juan (well born) for a boy and Breeshey (shining) for a girl and less commonly used names for example Fintan (a little fair one) for a boy and Blaa (flower) for a girl.
I have yet to see any Manx names at the top of the Isle of Man rankings (e.g., 2020), but perhaps they’ll get there one day.
In the meanwhile, here’s a sampling of names from the booklet. The booklet’s original definitions are in quotes, and I’ve added some extra info in parentheses.
Male Manx Names
- Austeyn, “venerable” (form of Augustine)
- Conylt/Conal, “love” (form of Conall, “strong wolf”)
- Finlo, “fair Scandinavian” (form of Finlugh, possibly “fair Lugh“)
- Gilno/Dilno, “saint’s servant” (from the Manx words for “servant,” guilley, and “saint,” noo)
- Mayl, “like God [Michael]”
- Ramsey, “place name” (Ramsey is the Isle of Man’s second-largest town; “wild garlic island” in Old English)
- Stoill, “with a will” (I can’t figure out the derivation here)
Female Manx Names
- Aalid/Aelid, “beauty” (from the Manx word for “beauty,” aalid)
- Ailstreena, “feminine of Alister” (both come from Alexander, “defending men”)
- Creena, “wise” (from the Manx word for “wise,” creeney)
- Malane, “magnificent [Madeline]” (form of Magdalene, “of Magdala“)
- Onnee, “grace [Annie]”
- Renny, “a fern” (from the Manx word for “fern,” rhennee)
- Vorana, “great” (I can’t figure out the derivation here either)
Do you like any of these names?