Oh the years I have had to contend with my unusual name.
As a child, my main problem was that I could never find a keyring with my name on it. I know it’s not a big deal but as a seven year old unable to find stationary with your name on it, it does seem to be a major problem.
The strange thing is, you never stop looking.
For some reason people presume that I can either not spell or pronounce my own name. They change the spelling to Marie or Moira, or use these pronunciations for my name, because, why would I know how to pronounce the name my parents gave me.
When I go to the Dentist, Doctors, or any other place where I have to be called by name, the door opens and someone come out to call your name to indicate it’s your turn. They stand for a few seconds too long. They take a deep breath and say ‘ERM’. I know it’s me there going to shout of, while part of me wants to jump up and say, ‘I’m here’ the other part want them to at least try and pronounce it first. Then they shout, ‘Mrs Porter’.
Since I married and took my husband’s surname, my life has become slightly easier. I can give my name and although people don’t know what I’m saying for my first name, they do understand my surname. Prior to my marriage, when my name was Maire Tarpy, I was asked on more than one occasion could I say it again in English.
People can be very rude, because they have not heard the name before; it can’t possibly be a real name. Did my parents make it up? Is it a nickname? They only accept it when I explain the origins to them.
There are several different meanings for my name across the world.
In Ireland, it the Irish for Mary and it means bitter.
Maire is also the name of a colour; it is a shade of black.
In France, Maire is the name for Mayor. For some reason I get good service in France.
Maire is also an abusive Tamil word that translates literally as pubic hair (not my favourite meaning).
The best thing about having an unusual name is there is only ever one of you in any of your social groups, be it family, friends or work colleagues. I don’t have to explain which Maire I am – it’s a bit like Madonna or Elvis – no one ever asks which Elvis you mean.
As I child I hated my name, I wanted to be like everyone else. Now I love my name. I love that there are not a million other women with my name. I am no longer bothered about people asking about it.
More than anything else my name makes me stand out. People remember me.