Tadhg is a very old Irish name, and goes way back to the mists of time. Much of the problems with Irish names and their spelling and pronounciation arise form the effects of English rule in Ireland for hundreds of years when Irish was almost eradicated. The English gave equivalents in English for Irish names, and anglicised the sound of the Irish names. Tadhg was equated with Timothy, and there is absolutely no connection between the two. If you look up the word Tadhg in an Irish/English dictionary, you will get the name Timothy. Tadhg is an ancient Irish word for 'Poet' at least that is what I thought........ see below!!.
It would not have been written as Tadhg until the recent past, as the old Irish script differs greatly from the script we use today, a change which was again influenced by modernisation. Look at the name above to see how its presentation in print has altered over time. As for pronounciation, well that can be a hard one. There is a subtle difference in the common prononciation of Tadhg, and the correct Irish pronounciation. Tadhg definitely does not rhyme with league as is commonly thought. The easiest way I can think of is to say the word tiger, and drop the 'er'. (Now that is Tiger as in the jungle and not Tigger as in Winnie the Pooh). That will give you the common pronounciation.
However, in the ancient Irish alphabet, there is no 'h'. This was catered for by a dot on the consonant, as you can see from the .gif above Timothy, Tim and Ted and Thady are the most common equivalents to Tadhg. In the 19th century it was generally anglicised as Thady, (which is what my grand uncle from Kerry was called - hence my name). It was also translated as Thaddaeus, Theophilius and Theodsius, which are names of classical and biblical origin.
In Northern Ireland it was anglicised as Teague, but pronounced 'Tayg'. This is probably where the idea of it rhyming with league comes from. To pronounce it this way is an insult to the name, because it is used derogatorily to apply to all Nationalists in Northern Ireland. In the same way as Jack is used in English to denote 'the man in the street' (Jack of all trades, etc), so also was Tadhg used in Irish. Tadhg na sráide (Tadhg of the street) or 'Tadhg an mhargaidh' (Tadhg of the market) is the equivalent phrase in Irish.'Tadhg an dá thaobh' (Tadhg of the two sides) denotes a double-dealer in Irish, while Tadhg na Scuab (Tadhg of the Brush) is used to denote the man in the moon. I wonder is this where the term 'daft as a brush' came from.I still can't figure that one out.
There is a town in Kerry called Cappateige (Cappa Thaidhg in Irish) which means the Cultivated plot of Tadhg. Tadhg shared top place in useage with John in Co Tipperary, in the early part of the 17th century. (Wow !!! ) It is a name which will mainly be found in Kerry, and parts of Cork today, and seems to be making a small come back, as indeed all Irish names are, here at home. There is also a small pier, in a remote part of Galway called Calla Thaidhg (Tadhg's Pier), which is one of the nicest places on Earth.
If you can share any further insights into the name Tadhg, or name places with the name Tadhg in them, please contact me.
In January of 2002 I received an email from a Dr.at Limerick University who tells me that 'Poet' is not actually correct. I was initially put out by this but have come to like the 'earthy' connection and am greatful for his clarification. This is what he wrote:
'Someone just asked me about the meaning of Tadhg, having been to your website. Actually it doesn't mean 'poet' at all. This seems to have been started by the Royal Irish Academy's Dictionary of the Irish Language. It may conceivably mean 'a bad poet' (!), but almost certainly does mean 'badger'. You can check out some etymology at http://www.bartleby.com/61/roots/IE523.html '