Meaning of McFadden misinterpreted?

A place to talk about anything relating to the Mac Pháidín surname and its variants
MMcFadden
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Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2016 8:46 am
Location: Sussex
MDKA: James McFadden b. abt 1726 Cashel, Creeslough, Donegal, Ireland

Meaning of McFadden misinterpreted?

Postby MMcFadden » Thu Dec 22, 2016 4:29 pm

I have read from many sources (including this site) that the McFadden name was considered to be an anglicization of the Gaelic (or Middle Irish) Mac Pháidín or Mac Páidín, which means “son of little Patrick.” However, Edward MacLysaght, one of the foremost genealogists of twentieth century Ireland, refers to it as 'a patronimic from Paidin, a Gaelic pet form of Patrick'.

It seems that when referred to as 'the diminutive form of Patrick' it is interpreted as 'little Patrick' which seems an odd way of translating or interpreting it. For example, the diminutive form of Nicholas is Nick, Thomas is Tom or Tommy, John is Johnny or Jack. So it does not make sense that the diminutive form of Patrick is 'little Patrick'! Whoever referred to someone that way or used 'little Nicholas' or 'little Thomas'? By way of justification, the well known jig Paddy O'Rafferty is referred to as Paudeen O'Rafferty / Páidín Ó Raifeartaigh, never little Patrick O'Rafferty'!

It should surely be Pat or Paddy and the real meaning of our surname is 'son of Pat or Paddy'.

I am not an Irish speaker but would be interested to hear other people's views on this.

Rob
Project Admin
Posts: 31
Joined: Fri May 13, 2016 3:17 pm
Y-DNA Haplogroup: R-A10526
MDKA: Owen McFadden b. abt 1780 near Creeslough, Co. Donegal, Ireland

Re: Meaning of McFadden misinterpreted?

Postby Rob » Fri Dec 23, 2016 2:16 pm

It's an interesting point and I think input from Irish or Scottish Gaelic speakers would be necessary. I couldn't claim to be an expert in this area, but I do know that the translation of Páidín to "little Patrick" has been around for some time. You can find it in the notes of John O'Donovan's mid-19th century translation of the Annals when referencing Páidín O'Mulconry, and O'Donovan would be one of the better known Irish language scholars in Irish history.

I do think that modern English speakers tend to assume "little" has to do with height, but in Ireland it has been common to refer to people as big or little for other reasons. In that sense, "little Patrick" and Paddy may not be mutually exclusive. Maybe Paddy would be preferable, I'm not sure. Great question.

Duncan McFadden
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Joined: Tue Sep 04, 2018 7:31 pm

Re: Meaning of McFadden misinterpreted?

Postby Duncan McFadden » Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:16 pm

Hi could it not be the case (as was the case with my own father ) that the original Patrick was small in stature and was known locally as “wee Pat” or the Irish equivalent?
My own father was known as wee Pat due to his father being taller and of course younger.
I am speaking of course from a Scottish perspective as “wee” is a fairly well worn colloquialism for something or someone or something that is small.
A bit like the Americans using the term Junior and a senior if you like.
Just a thought. :idea:

Rob
Project Admin
Posts: 31
Joined: Fri May 13, 2016 3:17 pm
Y-DNA Haplogroup: R-A10526
MDKA: Owen McFadden b. abt 1780 near Creeslough, Co. Donegal, Ireland

Re: Meaning of McFadden misinterpreted?

Postby Rob » Thu Sep 06, 2018 6:19 pm

Given the number of separate genetic groups that our DNA project has uncovered so far, I think it's possible that the answer could be all of the above. We may very well be looking at multiple unrelated origins for the name. Difficult to speculate.


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