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Scottish Gaelic Given Names for Women:
Names of Scottish Gaels from Non-Gaelic Scottish Sources with Irish Gaelic Forms

Gormlaith? and/or (Gormal)
Draft Edition

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Last updated 26 Nov 2001

This is a draft edition! It is very incomplete! See the first part of this article. You have been warned!

It is as yet unclear whether <Gormal> used as a female name is a development from earlier Gaelic women's given name <Gormlaith> (by metathesis, the reversing of the \l\ and \ah\ sounds). Another possibility is that it is an adoption of the earlier Gaelic men's given name <Gormghal> for use by women. Or perhaps some combination of the two is involved.

Pre-1600 Scottish Gaelic Evidence

As yet, no pre-1600 Scottish Gaelic examples of the name have been found.

Pre-1600 Scottish Gaelic Evidence (from Documents written in Gaelic but using Scots Orthography)

Pre-1600 Latin Language Evidence

Black (s.n. GORMLA) says "A woman's name, well-known in Highland tales, but long obsolete." His only cited examples seem to have more ties to Norse culture than to Scottish Gaelic. Only one seems clearly a Gael: "Gormlath, daughter of Malcolm MacHeth, was second wife of Harald Maddadson, earl of Orkney." Malcolm MacHeth was Earl of Ross and died in 1168 (Barrow CD1, 176). Note that it is unclear whether <Gormlath> is a spelling taken from a period document or a normalized form.

Pre-1600 Scots Language Evidence

An entry in the late 16th century Burgh Court Books for Inverness records the name of an individual who, based on their full name, was apparently a Gael (although, since they appear in a burgh/town, they may have been bi-cultural). It is uncertain from context whether <Gormyll> below is a woman or a man. All those listed before them were female, as was the next person listed, however the last three persons listed after that were male.

1585: "... Gormyll Dow beyound the wattir ... in committing of the fyilthie wyild and vnhonest chryme of fornicatioun and adultre, ... Gormyll Dow confessis wyth Bod Dowe ..." (Mackay, 299-300)

Pre-1600 Irish Gaelic Evidence

Examples of <Gormlaith> used by Irish women include:

U861.2 Gormlaith ingen Donncadha, amenissima regina Scotorum, post poenitentiam obiit. (Ulster 1, U861.2)

U861.2 Gormlaith, daughter of Donnchad, a most charming queen of the Irish, died after repentance. (Ulster 1 English, U861.2)

U948.5 Gormlaidh ingin Fhlainn m. Mael Sechlainn in penitentia mortua est. (Ulster 1, )

U948.5 Gormlaith, daughter of Flann son of Mael Sechnaill, died in penitence. (Ulster 1 English, )

U1063.1 Gormlaith ingen Cathail m. Ruaidri in perigrinatione i n-Ard Macha dormiuit. (Ulster 1, )

U1063.1 Gormlaith daughter of Cathal son of Ruaidr’ fell asleep on pilgrimage in Ard Macha. (Ulster 1 English, )

U1076.7 Gormlaith ingen Ui Fhocarta ben Tairrdelbaigh H. Briain do Žc. (Ulster 1, )

U1076.7 Gormlaith daughter of Ua F—carta, wife of Tairdelbach ua Briain, died. (Ulster 1 English, )

U1112.4 Gormlaith ingen Murchadha m. Diarmata .i. comarba Brigte in bona penitencia mortua est. (Ulster 1, )

U1112.4 Gormlaith, daughter of Murchad son of Diarmait, i.e. successor of Brigit, died in sound repentance. (Ulster 1 English, )

? (Ulster 2, )

U1324.2 Gormlaith, daughter of Mac Diarmata, died. (Ulster 2 English, )

? (Ulster 2, )

U1350.1 Gormlaith, daughter of Ua Domnaill, wife of Ua Neill, rested in Christ. (Ulster 2 English, )

? (Ulster 2, )

U1352.11 (A)Donnchadh O'Domnaill was slain (namely, by Donn Mac Murchadha, in the fortress of Aedh [Mag Uidhir] the Red) in carrying the daughter of Mag Uidhir by force with him; that is, (Gormlaith) the daughter of Aedh the Red. (Ulster 2 English, )

U1352.12 (B) Donnchadh Ua Domnaill was slain in carrying the daughter of Mag Uidhir with him by force; that is, the daughter (namely, Gormlaith) of Aedh Mag Uidhir the Red. And by Donn Mac Murchadha was he killed in the fortress of Mag Uidhir, and so on. (Ulster 2 English, )

*T1030.15 Gormlaith ingen Murchadha meic Floind, m‡thair Sitriuca meic Amlaim, rig Gall, & Dondchada meic Briain, rig Muman, mortua est. (Tigernach, )

T1046.7 Gormlaith ingen Floind maic Mail Sechnaill ina sendacht iar n-aithrighi quieuit. (Tigernach, )

T1112.5 Gormlaith ingen Murchadha maic M‡il na m-B—, bancomurba Brighdi, mortuus est. (Tigernach, )

I840.1 Fedlimmid do indriud Lethe Cuind —th‡ Birra co Temraich, & a chostud i Temraich & Gormlaith ingen Murchada, r’g Laigen, do gabail cona banchure, & Indrechtach macc Mail Duin do marbad lais i Temraich. (Inisfallen, )

AI840.1 Kl. Feidlimid harried Leth Cuinn from Birra to Temuir, and he was checked at Temuir, and he seized Gormlaith, daughter of Murchad, king of Laigin, together with her female train, and Indrechtach, son of Mael Dœin, was killed by him at Temuir. (Inisfallen English, )

I1076.7 Gormlaith ingen h-U’ F—cartai, rigan Muman, ben Tairdelbaich h-Ui Briain, quieuit h-i Cill Da Lua, & sepulta est i n-Inis Celtra. (Inisfallen, )

AI1076.7 Gormlaith, daughter of Ua F—carta, queen of Mumu [and] wife of Tairdelbach Ua Briain, rested in Cell D‡ Lua and was buried in Inis Celtra. (Inisfallen English, )

I1110.2 Gormlaith ingen h-U’ Chonchobuir Ciarraige, r’gan h-Ua n-Echach, quieuit. (Inisfallen, )

AI1110.2 Gormlaith, daughter of Ua Conchobuir Chiarraige [and] queen of U’ Echach, rested. (Inisfallen English, )

I1112.4 Gormlaith ingen Murchada, comarba Brigti, quieuit. (Inisfallen, )

AI1112.4 Gormlaith, daughter of Murchad [and] coarb of Brigit, rested. (Inisfallen English, )

Gormlaith, inghen Murchadha, mic Find, máthair righ Gall .i. Sittrig, & Donnchaidh mic Briain, righ Mumhan, & Choncobhaír, mic Maoilechlainn, rígh Temhra, d'écc. As í an Gormlaith-si ro ling na trí léimeannae, dia n-ebradh,
1. Trí léimeanna ro ling Gormlaith,
ní lingfedh ben co bráth,
léim i n-Ath Cliath, léim i t-Temhraigh,
léim i c-Caisel carn-maigh ós cach. (Four Masters 2, )

Gormlaith, daughter of Murchadh, son of Finn, mother of the king of the foreigners, i.e. of Sitric; Donnchadh, son of Brian, King of Munster; and ConchoLhar, son of Maeleachlainn, King of Teamhair, died. It was this Gormlaith that took the three leaps, of which was said:
1. 1] Gormlaith took three leaps,
2] Which a woman shall never take again,
3] A leap at Ath-cliath, a leap at Teamhair,
4] A leap at Caiseal of the goblets over all.(Four Masters 2 English, )

Modern Scottish Gaelic Evidence

"Gormal ... Rare. Derived from gorm- (deep-blue) and sùil (eye) and Anglicized as Gormelia. Gormal is also used as a male name in the old tales."[Morgan, s.n. Gormal] 

Speculative Pre-1600 Scottish Gaelic Form

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