Fenella and her husband Mark are expecting their second child - a surprise! - who will be a brother or sister to their daughter Alba.
Fenella writes: "We like unusual names, preferably out of the top 100 although this is not essential. As we live on the Isle of Man, we like Manx and Celtic names, but we are not tied or dead set on this!
This is such a treat for me! Celtic names are a passion of mine, so its such a thrill to look at the (often overlooked) Manx branch of the Celtic world. My first thought was the fabulous Finlo, so was disappointed to see that it can't be use. However, there are plenty more fabulous Celtic and non-Celtic names to be had.
Graihagh – My favourite Manx name, which is taken directly from the Manx word meaning "lovely, affectionate," and rhymes with popular/fashionable Freya ("GRAY-a). Like most Celtic names, the spelling can be an initial puzzle for people from non-Celtic lands, but there is no better place to use this gorgeous name than on Mann itself. It has been in use since the 1970s which was the decade when the Celtic revival saw many names coined directly from Celtic-language dictionaries. It is sometimes also spelled Graiagh.
Kirree – Another Manx-revival name is sweet Kirree. It is often cited as the Manx version of Kitty -- and it is very possible that it began life as a Manx diminutive of Katherine -- but is also the vocabulary word for "sheep." It is found as the subject of two Manx folk songs: Ny Kirree Fo 'Niaghtey (The Sheep Under the Snow) and O Kirree T'ou Goll Dy Faagail Mee (Oh Kirree, Thou Wilt Leave Me).
Bryher – As Briar is on your list, how about the Celtic version? It is pronounced the same way, but Bryher is a tiny and beautiful Celtic island (the smallest of the inhabited islands of the Isles of Scilly off the Cornish coast). Other Celtic place names used as first names that are also worth considering are Clova (a great Celtic alternative to botanical Clover), Vaila, Eriska, Iona and Merryn.
Celyn – A sparky Welsh name which means "holly." Like Alba it has both Celtic roots and a nod to the natural world.
Orla – An accessible yet ancient and evocative Gaelic name. Borne by several medieval queens, it comes from the Old Irish ór "gold" and flaith "sovereign", and so is therefore translated as "Golden Princess."
Breagha – In the same vein as Briar and Breeshey is the Scottish Breagha (BREE-a), derived from the Scots Gaelic brèagha "beautiful" which is getting a growing profile in the Celtic lands as a given name for girls.
Zennor/ Zenna – Zennor is a village in Cornwall — famous for its legend of a mermaid —whose name derives from a Cornish saint, Saint Senara. Her name likely stems from the Proto-Celtic *seno “old, ancient” and *waro“hero” but it is also linked to the Breton name Azenor. Senara, Zennor and variant Zenna are all in use as given names.
Juan – Between Ruan and Jude is this fabulous Manx staple. Akin to the Welsh Ioan and Cornish Jowan, Juan (JOO-an) is the Manx form of John. I've met an adult Juan here in central England and it wears extremely well. Yes, some non-Manx might first assume it is the Spanish Juan (HWAN), but that's corrected in an instant, and I doubt you'd have trouble of the Isle of Man.
Lonan – The name of several Irish saints which derives from the Gaelic lon "blackbird". St Lonan, nephew of St Patrick, is the namesake of the parish of Lonan in Mann which makes it a firmly Manx choice.
Cashin/Cashen – A traditional Manx name which survives as a surname. It derives from the Old Irish name Casain which derives from cas "curly-haired."
Callow – Another Manx surname which could derive from the Old Irish name Calbhach "bald" or it could, likely, be from Mac Allow (son of Allow). Allow is a Manx name used up until the 17th century which is of uncertain meaning but could be from the Old Norse element alfr "elf".
Callister/Collister – Common Manx surname derived from the Gaelic MacAlister meaning "son of Alastair (Alexander)".
Lachlan – A cool Gaelic name which derives from loch" lake, fjord" and lann "land" which was originally used to refer to Scandinavia, especially Norway. It was initially used as a nickname meaning a "Scandinavian" and was used from an early date on the Isle of Man, which has a very strong Viking heritage.
Sorley – Another Gaelic-Norse name which also reflects Mann's Viking past. Sorley is an anglicised form of the Gaelic name Somhairle (Somerled in English) which itself is from the Old Norse name Sumarliði meaning “summer way-farer” i.e. a Viking. The 12th century warlord/Celtic hero, Somerled was ruler of the ancient Kingdom of Mann and the Isles, is a key figure of Manx history.
Lorcan – An ancient Celtic name which feels modern. Borne by two early Irish kings, it derives from the Old Irish lorcc "fierce"
Macsen – The Welsh form of the Roman Maximus "greatest." Magnus Maximus, the 4th-century emperor in Britain, Gaul, and Spain survived in Welsh legend as the heroic figure Macsen Wledig.
Fraser – A stylish Scottish clan name which is familiar but not overused.
Quinn– An anglicised Celtic surname that derives from the Gaelic Ó Cuinn meaning "descendant of Conn". Conn itself means "chief" in Old Irish.
Rafferty – With similar sound to Zachary, Rafferty is a surname-turned-firstname which derives from Gaelic surnames O'Raifeartaigh, composed of the Old Irish rath "prosperity, good fortune" and beartaigh "to wield," and O'Robhartaigh, from robharta meaning "flood tide."
Similar Style to Your Favourites:
Bryony – Between Briar and Breeshey for sound, Bryony (also spelled Briony) is a sweetly botanical name taken from the hedgerow plant.
Reeva – With the same pleasing vowel-consonant sound balance that Alba has, Reeva is a anglicised form of the Hebrew name Riva > Rivka which is itself derived from Rebecca.
Willa – That same vowel-consonant balance is also found in fashionable Willa -- a name which feels gentle and bold at the same time.
Lyra – Like Alba, Lyra is an ancient name which has an astronomical meaning. Lyra harkens back to the Ancient Greek word for the lyre which was used as the name of the constellation of "the lyre" making it both a musical and celestial choice.
Cleo – Another ancient-modern name like Alba is bold yet sweet Cleo. Derived from the Greek kleos "glory," it was (originally spelled Kleio) the name of the Greek goddess-muse of history and also of lyre playing. The goddess's name is now spelled Clio which is also also used as a modern given name.
Primrose – A pretty flower which lends itself to the adorable nickname Posy.
Torben – Akin to Torin, and, like Lachlan and Sorley (above) echoing the Isle of Man's rich Norse heritage, Torben is a modern form of the Old Norse name Thorbjorn "Thor" + "bear." Toby could be used as a nickname.
Leander / Evander– Both names of ancient Greek heroes, Leander means "lion of a man" while Evander means "good man." Evander also has a Celtic-Norse connection as it was long used as an anglicised form of Iomhar, the Gaelic form of the Norse name Ivarr.
Bay – An effortlessly cool name which has double nature appeal, both as the name of a coastal body of water (quite apt for an island-born baby) and as the name of the laurel tree.
I hope this has been useful. Best wishes with the name choosing. Please keep us updated.