I was trying to come up with a name for a certain character today. There are many things I think about when doing so—personality, inclusiveness, physical features, and who they are in relation to other characters. Now, I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I won’t say who exactly she is, but because of who she is, I wanted to use an Irish name. While looking up pronunciations of Irish names for girls, I came across this video of actress Saoirse Ronan on the Ellen Show. I’d seen her in various movies (most memorable for me is Hanna), but I never knew how to pronounce her name until I did this research. I have to say, I was very taken with her accent and her personality and her attitude about the attention one gets as an actress (the attention is a bit bothersome), so I decided to use Saoirse after all. The character in my book is probably nothing like the actress, but I do like the name—it was one of the top three I was looking into. (The others? Radha [row-a], and Niamh [neev])
After the actress appeared on the Ellen Show, there was apparently a bit of a kerfuffle about it among some Irish folks in the twitter-sphere because there are a few Irish dialects and each has a slightly different pronunciation for that name. Some use [sur-sha]/[ser-sha] as she does, some use [seer-sha], and some [sayr-sha]/ [saer-sha]. There are probably others, too. For myself, and with apologies to Miss Ronan, I will be using [saer-sha] because I like the more earthy feel it has. Obviously, readers can use whichever they prefer, but in my head, as I write and read Saoirse, I will hear [Saer-sha].