As the rich and famous know, growing up with an unusual name certainly sets one apart from their peers. Just think of pop royalty like the Beckhams who gifted their children the monikers Brooklyn, Cruz, Romeo and Harper.
Sir Bob Geldof and his late wife Paula were among the early trendsetters when it came to naming their daughters, settling upon Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches and Pixie. When Paula went on to have a baby with Michael Hutchence, she kept to the family tradition, calling the little girl Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily.
Not all celebrity offspring, however, enjoy being called something a little bit different. The late David Bowie named his son Zowie Bowie — full name Duncan Zowie Haywood Jones. At the age of 12, the youngster said he preferred to be called by his nickname Joey, later shortening it to Joe. Now a film director and screenwriter, he is known as Duncan Jones.
He’s not the only one to opt for the ordinary — or at least to rue the day an unusual name seemed an inspired and fun choice.
According to a new survey by Gigacalculator.com, Hunter and Aurora are among the top names parents regret calling their kids. The poll also reveals that thanks to Prime Minister Johnson and President Trump, parents have been totally put off calling their kids Boris or Donald.
And mums and dads polled also said they would steer clear of the names Karen, Isis and Meghan for their little girls.
So, what’s it like to go through life with a name that turns heads? While most Northern Ireland parents go down a more traditional path, we have tracked down some people with, well, famous names.
Elvis Kirk (61) lives in Killyleagh with his wife Paula. Elvis has three grown-up children, Tanya (40), Jonathan (36) and Rebecca (26) and runs Elvis Kirk Contracts and KC Skip Hire and Recycling. He says he loves his name.
“My mother was a big Elvis fan,” he says. “There was a big family of us, eight of us, and I was in the middle somewhere. They all have ordinary country names. There was Mervyn, Sidney, Philip, Alastair who passed away, me, Ronnie, Harold and Sandra.
“There was a maternity hospital in Downpatrick called Hardy Greer and my mother was in there about to have me and the radio was on. Elvis had brought the song Teddy Bear out at the time and my mother said to the woman in the bed next to her that if she had another boy she was going to call him Elvis. And that was how I got stuck with it.
“I do like the name. Everyone always says what a lovely name it is but no-one ever calls their child it. At work I do a lot of phone calls and if I ring a business and they ask me for my name sometimes you hear them laughing. A lot of them don’t believe that it’s your real name. But it’s quite good fun. We used to call our business Kirk Contracts in the early years and we later changed it to Elvis Kirk Contracts and I think that has been a great help. People see it on the lorries and look twice. It’s good fun.”
While some people with such a name might dread being the butt of jokes in the classroom, Elvis says he never had any bother. “The teachers always liked my name. I suppose people thought it was a bit strange but I never got any hassle about it. People liked it more than anything.”
And just like the rock’n’roll legend himself, Co Down’s own Elvis has made the headlines in his local newspaper a few times... though not for his singing.
“I left school when I was 15 and have been working ever since, driving diggers and doing demolition, knocking big buildings down and driving big lorries — just rocking, knocking and rolling,” he quips.
“We took the old council offices down in the town here about seven years ago and the local newspaper put ‘Elvis is rocking the building’ in the headline for a story on it. I hope to keep on rocking for another few years yet.
“I thought some of my grandchildren might have taken my name,” he says. “But not so far. I don’t even know any other Elvis. I had heard of a man down in the country with the name Elvis, but I’m not sure if that was his middle name. My first name is Elvis, it’s on my birth certificate, I was christened Elvis.
“It’s never given me any problems opening bank accounts or anything. It definitely didn’t make them give me a bigger overdraft.
“I wouldn’t change my name. If I came back again I would want to still be called Elvis. My name is part of who I am.
“Like the real Elvis I can sing, but unlike the real Elvis I wouldn’t sing in front of anyone. I keep my singing for the shower or in the cab of a lorry. I sing away there.”
He adds: “I would be a great Elvis fan, and am really proud to be named after him.”
Mother of two Mercedes Carr, (24) lives in Londonderry with her partner Christopher and children Kian (6) and Kora (1). She was named after her father’s dream car.
“My mum and dad had seven children,” she says. “And I was the last of seven. My mum said to my dad that he could name the last child. So my daddy got to name me — as my mum named all the rest of the children — and he called me Mercedes.
“Daddy was a big Mercedes fan and actually wanted one at the time but he wasn’t in a position to buy one, so he said he would name his daughter Mercedes instead. Dad eventually got his Mercedes, me, and also got a Mercedes car eventually which he had for several years.
“It’s an unusual first and second name, but no one really noticed when I was younger, at primary school. But when I went to secondary school people noticed and thought it was a really cool name. No-one ever said it was terrible. When I was growing up and going to school, mum and dad imagined that someone would say something to me, but there was no negativity. Everyone loved it and thought I was lucky to have such an unusual name.
“My name is strange, but I do like it. I don’t know anyone with the same name. Mind you, when you go into one of those novelty shops to buy a keyring or a mug with your name on it, I can never find my name there. I suppose a Mercedes car keyring is the only thing that would have my name on it.”
When it came to her own son and daughter though, Mercedes decided to stay strictly middle of the road on the name front.
“When I had my children I never thought about naming them something as unusual as my own name. I couldn’t do it to them. My fear would be that they would grow up, someone would say something to them about their name and then I would blame myself for giving them that name.”
Mercedes, however, says that she is glad that her name has set her apart for life — and wouldn’t change it for the world.
“People have trouble spelling my name at times, there are so many ‘e’s in it,” she says. “But it has never been shortened over the years to a nickname. The only person who did that was my best friend who calls me ‘Merc’. When I’m talking to people I don’t know or dealing with banks and things, people say ‘Are you sure that’s your first name?’ I say, ‘Yes I’m pretty sure’. Then I tell them my second name and that’s the showstopper. They think I am messing around with them.
“If I could change my name, I wouldn’t. It’s part of who I am. I don’t think I would suit anything else. You’ll never find another Mercedes Carr, I’m the only one.”
Tyrone Power (76) is from Ballymena. He is married to Wilma and together they have a daughter Andrea (54), and son, also Tyrone (50). Tragically, their other daughter Rhonda died in a crash when she was just 18-years-old. The retired Gallaher’s factory worker says his mother was a huge fan of a certain Hollywood movie star.
“My mother was a big fan of Tyrone Power,” he says.
“My name has absolutely nothing to do with the county.
“Tyrone Power was famous during the 1940s and 50s.
“He was around at the same time as Errol Flynn and was a swashbuckling, handsome movie star. I think my mum had a notion of him. Thousands and thousands of women attended his funeral.
“I do like my name. People don’t recognise it as much now, but years ago people used to ask me if I was the famous actor. Now they don’t seem to react as much any more or they think it is some connection with Co Tyrone.
“Tyrone, as a first name, has got really popular in the likes of America, but years ago when I was a young man it was a very unusual name. It’s not too bad being named about a swashbuckling hero. Sometimes I wished I was him.”
Tyrone says that there was more than one movie star in his street.
“People might find this hard to believe, but there was another young fella in my street whose parents called him Errol Flynn.
“We were stopped by the police when we were out one night and Errol was asked his name and I was asked my name and the policeman didn’t believe us.
“He was going to take us to the barracks because he thought we were messing him around.
“Errol’s dead now, but he used to live across the street from us. The neighbours in our street had a bit of a tradition of naming children after film stars.
“There was myself, Tyrone Power, an Errol Flynn, a Robert Taylor and a Joan Collins all in the one row.
“The postman made a comment in one of the local papers years ago that when he came into Inchkeith Road it was more like Hollywood Boulevard with all the stars. I think my mum must have started a trend.
“I do like my name. I am proud of it. I’m so proud of it I called my son Tyrone also. I wouldn’t change my name to anything less unusual. It’s given me a unique take on life. My wife, when we met, didn’t even know who Tyrone Power was, so she was unfazed.”