Sheila's Day: Memory or Myth?

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While many Irish female names are saints' names, there is no Saint Sheila. According to Diarrnaid O Muirithe, the name Sheila derives from Cecily, the English form of the Latin name of the virgin martyr St Cecilia. The Anglo-Normans brought the name to Ireland and in time it became in the Irish language Sile. In nineteenth-century newspapers there are references to the celebration of 'Shela's Day' on 18 March in honour of St Patrick's wife or mother. Some academics now consider this day to be the origin of the Australian English word 'sheila', used generically as a term for 'a girl' . This aticle investigates the links between Australian English 'sheila' and 'Sheila's Day' and challenges previously held assumptions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-136
Number of pages11
JournalThe Australasian Journal of Irish Studies
Issue number2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Irish names
  • Saint Patrick
  • Ireland


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