Equivalent Naming: Lucius among the O’Briens!

MYSTERY SOLVED!!!! I am so happy!!!!

LibraryIreland has an online copy of a VERY USEFUL BOOK called Irish Names and Surnames, which I think I’ve seen referenced but have never seen before. The given name section is divided into names of men and women, and each entry has a separate webpage for easier searching. So good!!!

Anyway, it turns out that Lucius is a common name for O’Briens because of Irish equivalent naming (ie, getting around the stupid idea that Catholics or Anglicans should only be baptized with “official” saint names from the Bible or the Roman martyrology list, instead of allowing all saints’ names from Ireland).

Lucius is being used as a replacement name for “Lachtna,” the name of Brian Boru’s great-grandfather.

(That said, it would be hilarious if Lucius Malfoy were an O’Brien connection. High. Larious.)

The saint in question, however, is St. Lactan or Lactali, also spelled Lachtan and Lachtna and Lachtin or Lachteen. There’s one of the Lachtans who lived in the late 500’s, and another who lived in the 600’s. There’s an arm reliquary for the older one (no bone left in it, unfortunately, although the reliquary is now itself a relic), and there are a couple of holy wells. (More about the holy wells. Boy, Ireland really has some nicely maintained holy wells.) The saints’ days are said to be March 19 or March 17, which runs them into St. Joseph and St. Patrick. Oops.

“Lacht” means milk, or anything liquid (and thus milk-like), and -an means “one, person,” and spins out a noun into a name. So Lachtan was probably a religious name meaning “milk-guy,” and probably implied that he was just a student (and needed milk more than meat), or implied that he was a good teacher for beginners (by providing “milk”).

Lachteen would be the same thing, except with an -in/-een diminutive.

However, Lachtna itself means “milk-colored,” which goes all the way to unmilky colors like “gray, mouse brown, dun,” because it also means “the color of sheep” and “the color of unbleached wool.” So maybe it’s a religious name comparing a monk to a sheep, or talking about the color of his monk robes or his very plain cloak.

Anyhoo… the saints are very popular in O’Brien country, and it’s very likely that Brian Boroimhe’s great-grandfather would have been named after them. The connection to milk and sheep would also be connected to fertility and prosperity, so it’s all quite nice. j

“Lucius” is a Roman surname, as well as being the masculine form of Lucia/Lucy. It means “of light, lighted.” But the surname comes from another word, Luscus, meaning “one-eyed.

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