Middle Name Challenge: Harrison ________ Killarney

Hi Swistle,
I’ve been reading your blog all the way from Australia for a couple of years and now I need your help! My husband and I are expecting our first child – a boy – on August 29. We’ve had a solid list of names picked out that we both like for months. My husband has vetoed a lot of names that I love, including Harrison. But just the other day, he said he’s changed his mind and now he really likes Harrison and wants it on the list! Only problem is, I can’t think of a middle name to go with it. Ideally, we’d like a family name from my side. The options include:

Ian – my favourite as it’s my dad’s name. I’m worried about how it flows with Harrison though as they both end in the letter N. Am I overthinking this?!




Patrick – this is on our list of first names too, and could be an honour name for my grandmother, Patricia.

Our last name is pronounced Killarney but spelt differently.

Other first names on our list include:


Names we’ve considered but have decided not to use:


If this baby were a girl, she would have been called Eliza, Nina, Layla or Tessa.

We are planning to have one more child after this one.

Any reassurance or feedback would be greatly appreciated!

I promise to send an update with a photo once he’s born.

Many thanks,



This makes for a shortish post, but I vote for Ian. It doesn’t bother me at all that Harrison and Ian both end in N. And it’s your top choice too. And it honors your dad. Winning all around.

John also ends in N and is also a nice choice.

In fact, ALL the names on your list are nice choices. For me it depends a lot on who’s being honored, and how much you want to honor that person. I think that’s how I’d narrow it down, if I were you: since all the names are good choices, rank them in order of how much it makes your heart pound with happiness to think of honoring the people the names represent. Who would you rather honor, your dad or your grandmother?—and so on.




Name update:

Thank you Swistle and everyone who commented! Our beautiful son arrived on August 28. We were totally ready and excited to call him Harrison after you eased our minds, but when we saw his little face we knew he was an Alexander, a name we have loved for over a decade – in fact it was the first baby name we spoke about when we were dating.

So introducing Alexander Ian Killarney. My dad was so honoured by the middle name he cried!

11 thoughts on “Middle Name Challenge: Harrison ________ Killarney

  1. Dr. Awkward

    Ian is great with Harrison! At least in my pronunciation, a slightly different vowel sound precedes the final “n” in these two names, which keeps them from sounding too matchy. Plus the first and middle names are so rarely said together that you really don’t have to overthink “flow.” Thumbs up to Ian!

  2. Jillio

    Pointing out that Harrison Ian Killarney results in initials that spell HIK which might be a deal breaker for some.

  3. Suzanne

    After just reading the title, I was coming here to suggest John or James. Ian is excellent too and I love the idea of having the middle name be an honor name.

  4. Christi with an I

    I was going to suggest Patrick. Not only is it a family name I think it flows well with Harrison. Harrison Patrick Killarny.

  5. Vanessa

    I would do a double middle name: Harrison Ian Patrick Killarney (or switch the middles). To me, the double-middle name has better flow than using only Ian, which I find a bit abrupt – though there is nothing wrong with Harrison Ian at all. :) Good luck!

  6. TheFirstA

    Yes, you are overthinking the whole “they both end in N” thing. Harrison Ian sounds fine, and even if it didn’t, I don’t think flow between first/middle is that important. He’s mostly going to be called first/last anyway. I think having the honor name in there is important and meaningful, and is more important than any issues related to “flow.”

  7. Kay W.

    HIK would border on dealbreaker for me in terms of initials, but I know opinions range widely on this issue. (Including within my own household—my husband isn’t bothered by the initials BS! I had to veto a beloved B— name because I just can’t do that.)

    That said, I think Harrison Ian K——ey flows more than fine, it’s a great name. Very musical!

    I do like a previous commenter’s suggestion of Harrison Ian Patrick. That’s really nice.

  8. JD

    Harrison Ian is lovely. Both ending in N is no big deal. One is “on” the other is “an” which is different sounds. I don’t think Ian is abrupt either – it’s two syllables! I love Harrison Ian K….y together. Your other middles are also nice, but I’d pick your favorite honor (regardless of how it sounds or initials) and you will always be happy with your choice.

  9. Maree

    Hi Louise,

    Fellow Aussie here. Just wanted to say these are all good names. In fact three of your choices make up my son’s name!

    I went with a double middle as I was worried about the flow but it has meant the second middle gets dropped which is a shame because that’s the honour name I felt strongly about. So if you do that put Ian first.

    I can’t see any problem with HIK?? If it it’s hick then don’t worry – that isn’t really an insult here (if his initials were bogan then you may have a problem lol).

    Do you want the
    Middle to also flow with Harry? If so I’d go with John. If not, Ian is my pick. I also love
    Francis but you would have three surnames in a row if that matters to you.

    Nice choices and Harrison is solid.

    Harrison Ian John Killarney would be hijk (just saying that is a special sort of nerd cool that I would love)

  10. FE

    If your husband has just come around to Harrison, I’m not sure whether to say ‘grab it while you can’ or ‘give it some time to make sure he’s really happy with it’.

    I’m also from Australia and for some reason I also feel that Harrison Ian doesn’t flow as well as Harrison John … so I don’t think it’s the N that’s the problem. Having said that, I love honour names and would use Ian for your dad.

    Personally from your list, though, I like Patrick Ian. It’s a double honour name, Patrick is familiar yet not common (much less so than Harrison), and it’s on your list of agreed first name choices.

    All the best – first baby is so exciting!

  11. Elisabeth

    To my ear, I like the stronger break of Harrison Patrick Killarney and the double honoring of Patrick Ian Killarney, but I do like all your ideas.


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