About names
Lana is not, strictly speaking, an Irish name. But since Alanna (or “a leanbh” in Gaelic) is an endearment along the lines of “dear child,” it seemed to me a reasonable evolution — and that’s what her character wanted to be called. (Actually, in early drafts of the book, her name was Sláine, pronounced “slaw-na,” and that is an Irish name. But few readers in the U.S. would know how to say it, and I didn’t want it misread as “slain.” Lana was the best I could do for her in English.) Nicarbeth is my (probably awkward) adaptation of the Irish Gaelic for “daughter of none.”

Photo by Alex Culhi Vinals Hereditary surnames were not widespread in Ireland until about the tenth century, around the time of Aidan’s story or a bit after. (Much of the rest of Europe, however, began using hereditary surnames even later.) Mac and Nic indicate “son of” and “daughter of,” respectively; it’s curious that Americans associate Mac with the Scots rather than the Irish — but then, they share Gaelic roots. The O’ we associate strongly with the Irish means “grandson or descendant of.” In Gaelic, Aidan’s name would probably be rendered Aedan or Aodhan Ó Ciaran. Ciaran means only “small dark one,” but it was borne by oodles of saints.

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