ÉAMON, (e:'m*n, rhymes with "Raymond"). n., Irish Gaelic. 1. A proper given name, the rough English equivalent of which would be Edward or Edmund. [If your browser doesn't support accented characters and displays this as "IAMON", it's actually "Eamon" with an acute accent over the "E"]In my case, this wasn't exactly a given name, but a taken name.
I was born Charles Edward Taggart, III. Sorta distinguished sounding, ain't it?
I was named for my father, Charles Edward Taggart, II -- my grandfather didn't like the traditional "Jr.", apparently -- who in turn was named after his father Charles Edward Taggart.
There's nothing wrong with carrying on a family name, and I'm proud my dad named me after him. However ... I always kinda wanted my own name.
I must admit, I'm a rather unique individual. I don't know anyone quite as ... well, weird as I am. And it just didn't seem to fit that I'd have to go through life as a unique individual while bearing someone else's name with an incrementally higher Roman numeral appended to it's rear.
I was inspired to change my middle name upon my first trip to Ireland in 1988. I'm Irish-American (although I usually refer to myself as Irish-Louisianian), and I've always felt a deep kinship with my Irish ancestry. I'm not one of these fawning Irish-Americans who sings old rebel songs, puts quarters in the IRA collection jar on the bars without thinking of the consequences, or sees nothing in Ireland but what's in the guidebooks and medieval castle banquets. I love Irish culture and history, I love the people and the land and the music and the literature. I embrace what I love about it, warts and all, and criticize what I don't like about it (like how the Church has stunted the country's development and the intellectual freedom of its citizens for centuries, while at the same time being a pivotal part of its culture).
That trip was one of the greatest experiences of my life, as were my subsequent trips there. I felt bonded to that place, and I felt very much at home there, even though I had never been. I managed to fit in pretty well myself; with this mug of mine, I pass for native Irish rather easily. And I'll never forget what one of my friends said to me when I was there on my first trip. Bernadette McFadden Brien, sister of one of the people I went there to initially visit, was expressing her surprise that her husband took to me so well. "Eddie really doesn't care for Americans, and he was all ready to not like you, but he ended up liking you a lot. You're not a typical American at all ... you're really very Irish."
I thought it was one of the nicest things anyone had ever said to me, and it meant a lot to me. I didn't even mind the embedded swipe at my countrymen; many of them deserve it anyway (I've seen some appalling behavior by Americans travelling abroad).
Another thing was that when I was there, I was good-naturedly teased about my name. "Charles Edward," said my friend Theresa Aldridge, "how English!"
I was never fond of my middle name to begin with. Nothing against anyone named Edward or Ed or Eddie; I'm sure it's a fine name, as long as it's attached to someone else. I just hated it when it was attached to me. My sister Marie used to call me "Edward" to piss me off when we were kids, and it worked.
So around the time of this first Irish trip, I decided that it was time for me to have my own name.
I had pretty much stopped using the Roman numerals years earlier anyway, and decided to make a non-legal de facto name change, to Charles Éamon Taggart. Now that's a name!
Eventually, I'll get 'round to changing it legally, if I have the $150 or whatever it takes lying around unused (which won't happen anytime soon). I've already got it as an alias on my new driver's license, though, and it looks great.
I was thinking that my folks would be kind of ... well, tweaked to find this out. I did sorta mention it to them once, emphasizing that my name isn't changed, only translated, or "Gaelicized". "Uh huh," said Mom. I don't think she was thrilled. Oh well.
I suppose if I really wanted to go all out, I could have Gaelicized it fully, to Cathal Éamon Mac an tSagairt. But I'd get really tired of spelling it for people.
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Chuck Taggart (e-mail chuck)