Coming Out: I can’t Update My Name Right Now

This post was written in 2016 on my old Kilcaroon blog, and I’m reposting it here once again for clarity.

It’s time. I’ve had this post in the back of my mind for the past thirty-something years, and now the time is right—time for me to put on paper my long regret in order for me to move forward.

I refer to who I am deep down. Who am I? In short, I am Pat Burke. Since 1985, I have used the Irish version of my name. I like the Irish language; in fact, I like it very much! However, the reason behind my decision at the time was filled with confusion, and as the years rolled by, I continued to be troubled.

Journey back with me, please. I had been teaching in Dublin since 1978, using my name, Pat Burke. Mr. Burke, to my pupils. I started my second teaching job in West Waterford in October 1985. A strange thing happened on the day I was signing my contract. A particular local priest, who shall remain name nameless, visited my home. As I was ready to sign the agreement, he mentioned that he had a favour to ask. He said that he would like it very much if I were to use the Irish version of my name, Pádraig de Búrca. Now, it needs to be said that I applied for the job as Pat burke, and I was informed in writing that I was successful. The letter is in my name, Pat Burke. I feel sure that he was flying a kite; that this suggestion came from him alone and was not in any way associated with the Board of Management of the school.
Fast thinking time…and to my regret I agreed. I really felt that my choices were limited. In 1985 Catholic Ireland, what the priest wanted, he usually got! So, I started 22 years of teaching in West Waterford as Pádraig de Búrca. Immediately, I discovered that I was, in reality, two people! My parents and family knew me as nothing other than Pat. All of my schoolboy friends did likewise! I was a schizophrenic! Monday to Friday at work, I was Pádraig, and everywhere else, I was Pat. Shortly afterwards, to rectify the situation, I changed my name officially to the Irish version. Within months, Pádarig de Búrca was on all my correspondence, and as I began to integrate back into Dungarvan life, I became known as such. Many, many people became very confused.
I joined the Dungarvan Badminton Club as Pádraig, met my future wife as Pádraig, and as the years rolled on, I joined Dungarvan Cycling Club as Pádraig. Understandably, the transition was a difficult one for my parents, siblings, cousins, and school friends.
Interestingly, my wife and I adopted a slight variation. I did not like Pádraig, as it has a rough guttural sound (for anyone unfamiliar with the language, the phonetic pronunciation is “paw-drig”). The “d” in the middle bugged me, so we used Páraig (paw-rig) at home! More split personality issues now.

In or about 2010, my family brought up the anomalies with me, and I was glad they did. I was happy again to be called Pat by my mam and my brothers and sisters (dad had passed on). Some had a tough time getting used to the initial change and found it easier just to stick with Pádraig. Some rowed in with my Páraig variation, while some were more comfortable with Pat. My nephews and nieces are completely confused. Fast forward to 2022, and I am back to my previous Pat Burke incarnation.

So, let me put this to bed. I have long-standing regrets about my 1985 choice. My name is Pat Burke, always was, and always will be. The Irish version of my name is not me. So, what happens now?

Realistically, I am not going to change my name back again. I know so many people through teaching, friendships, and local involvement with several clubs and organisations that it would be very impractical. My darling wife calls me Páraig, and this I like almost as a term of endearment as it originated only between both of us. Several close friends call me Páraig, which also pleases me. I am 100% more comfortable with Páraig as opposed to Pádraig. But, the time is right for me to be called Pat by my family. Full circle… in fact, several interconnected loops.

Footnote: I started using Facebook in 2010. Since then, I’ve used so many variations that even Facebook itself is at its wit’s end: Pádraig de Búrca, Pat Pádraig Burke, Pádraig Pat Burke, Pat Burke, Paddy Burke (I don’t know how I thought that up!) and currently Páraig Pat Burke. And a lovely story to finish: I joined Tried & Tested Triathlon Club, using my official Pádraig de Búrca title. The club uses Facebook for messaging. When a member of the committee met me recently, she mentioned that she did not know what to call me and was sure that my Christian name was Páraig Pat, as in persons using two Christian names, e.g., Paddy Joe or Mary Ann (should that be Mary Anne, I wonder?). I appreciated her curiosity and confirmed that Páraig is my favourite name. Earlier today, I tried to edit my name on Facebook to “Páraig de Búrca” and use “Pat Burke as a nickname, and here is the error message that came up: “You can’t update your name right now because you’ve already changed it too many times. Facebook is a community where people use their real identities. We require everyone to provide their real names, so you always know who you’re connecting with. This helps keep our community safe.” I wonder, perhaps, if it would make a difference if I were to email/share this with Mr. Z. Perhaps I’ll launch a campaign to force FB to allow more than six name changes without undermining safety issues! I think ten would be a good number.

If you were able to follow all of that, I’d love to hear your slant on it! If you are entirely messy, that’s understandable.

Published by Páraig

Changing my mind, one thought at at a time. You can too. Garden, bike and writing can be key. Ukan2.

5 thoughts on “Coming Out: I can’t Update My Name Right Now

  1. Bhí ciall áirithe leis an “caighdeán” sa Ghaeilge nuair a tugadh isteach é na blianta siar agus is amhlaidh anois go bhfuil tú fhéin ar lorg caighdeán de shórt éigin le do ainm. Dom fhéin, fanaim leis an sean ráiteas: Glaoigh orm pé rud a theastaíonn uait ach ná ghlaoigh orm ró luath ar maidin!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Heck yes, who are social media gurus to tell you how many names you’re allowed? I love this post having gone through several mutations of my own name through my life so far, most of them not my idea: Elisabeth, Liddy, Lizzie, Liza, Liz, Lis . . . and now in France I am E-leez-a-bett. Well, it keeps things interesting, I suppose! Never mind your changing name, I’m having trouble with keeping up with your blogs and probably the last person to realise this is where you’re hanging out now so apologies for having missed so much. Have you stopped growing, writing and repeating now?


    1. Bonjour E-leez-a-bett! You found me!
      Yes, mostly I’m here these days. I’m very definitely growing and repeating… Its just the writing part of it that’s missing. From time to time there’ll be some horticultural bits here, amidst a jumble of other stuff.

      Enjoy the autumn. It’s going to be so beautiful.

      Liked by 1 person

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