Character names can make or break a story. I pick names in the Minogue stories for what they can evoke of Irish life as I know it.
Matt was father of a friend. That kind and hospitable man’s manner of speaking, and his stories and his temperament, inspired Minogue's.
Many of Minogue's expressions came to me through my mother, who was born and reared in Clare. The surname comes from the Irish work for monk manach, as do the more common variations of Manning, Mannion and Mannix.
Minogue is a name that immediately says 'County Clare.' If you drove into Tulla, a village that is also a shrine for followers of the Clare hurling teams, you would have seen from quite a distance the name Minogue on a pub.
This is taken from sentimental ballads such as 'I'll take you home again Kathleen’ and ‘Kathleen Mavourneen,’ staples of tear-stained Irish American warbling. Minogue as a young man had wanted shot of Ireland. He considered emigrating to America.
Kathleen, from Dublin, is plain-spoken and direct. She doesn't hesitate to remind overbearing culchies - people from outside the grand metropolis of Dublin - that Dublin still rules.
This name is gaining some popularity as Irish people renew their interest in Irish. Iseult comes from legends such as Tristan and Isolde.
David - the young, upstart king of the Israelites who took down a giant. Daithi has left for the USA to work as a software engineer.
The name of the Minogues’ first child, who died a crib death. Éamonn, pronounced Eh-munn, is close enough to Amen. In his rage against God, Minogue formed an unconscious resolve not to let others die, i.e. to 'rescue' others by catching their killers.
James ‘The Killer’ Kilmartin
The late, great and unforgettably named Cardinal Jaime Sin was a protector and champion of the Philippine poor. In a homily on the feast day of St Martin's Day, he spoke about the tradition of sacrificing a pig to celebrate the day. He was alluding yo the corrupt dictator Ferdinand Marcos. For this the cardinal was later assassinated.
Jim Kilmartin, C.O.of the fabled Murder Squad, is full of bluster and belligerence - hence his nickname: ‘The Killer.’ Kilmartin is humbled by a life event in the later Minogue stories. His subsequent efforts at self improvement are not to be relied on.
Shay (Séamus) Hoey was Minogue’s side-kick in the early Minogue stories. He suffered so much stress in the job that he needed to transfer out. He is much happier now doing school outreach and making use of the card tricks he is so good at.
Malone is a riff on I-am-alone. 'Doubting Thomas,' Kilmartin sometimes calls him. Tommy still refuses to wholly believe that he has ‘a touch of PTSD.’ Instead, he accounts his early morning nightmare awakenings - his ‘half three divils’ - to bewilderment at why he seems destined to mess up and to be alone.
(Other characters’ names give strong clues to the origins of their nicknames: Plate-Glass (Fergal) Sheehy, Jesus Farrell.)
The link below take you to a GIS generated map of surnames in use in the 1890 census, in Ireland. It’s not an accurate or verifiable guide to exact origins or histories of the names there, but is interesting nonetheless.