Twenty years ago, Papa Polka Dot and Mama Polka Dot had their first child. It was a truly joyous occasion (or so I’m led to believe.) Then came the next step. What are we going to name this child?
They decided on Aoife. A name meaning beauty, joy and radiance. One of the most popular baby girl names at the time. What could possibly go wrong?
In Ireland, having an Irish name is not a problem. Everyone can pronounce it. E-fah, Simple, familiar, and life continues smoothly.
Bringing me abroad is a different story.
The earliest problem with my name I can remember is my holiday in Tenerife with my family. I was nine, and a bona fide member of the Kids Club (I had the T Shirt and everything.) One of the supervisors was from Galway. No bother. ‘Shur my sister’s name is Aoife, it’s a beautiful name!’ The other was a native to the island, and had no family member to compare my name with. For an entire fortnight, whenever the Chica was working, I was referred to as ‘Ifa’ and my name was spelled as such.
Then came Australia. Entering the country was eventless. Leaving, not as much. After a three day visit to friends of the family in Sydney, we headed west for Perth. Passports were checked at the desk. ‘So, that’s a ticket for Papa Polka Dot, Mama Polka Dot, Baby Polka Dot . . . and, I’m really sorry, I can’t pronounce the other name.’ Guess what the other name was.
I am clutching straws that since Una ‘the Irish wan from The Saturdays’ Healy named her child Aoife, my days as a nameless being are behind me. One can dream.