What’s in a name? Straightening up and stepping out.

Macushla Collins

What’s in a name, Macushla Collins?

Macushla Collins is not like most names.

Some names are straightforward. Easy to say, easy to spell, easy to remember. They might have meaning to the giver and receiver, but the practicalities of the name, well, there’s not too much involved. 

With my name on the other hand, there’s a bit to it. Let me share.

Thoughtfully selected for me by parents after my father read a Sherlock Holmes book, Macushla is a very old Gaelic name. The perfect ice-breaker when meeting new people (How do I say your name? Where’s it from?), the literal translation of Macushla is “my darling” or “throb of my heart”. Apart from reflecting the poetic nature of much that’s Gaelic, for anyone into trivia, Macushla has its fair share.

Check this out:

  1. Macushla is a song (more on this below).
  2. Macushla is the fight name given to the main character in Clint Eastwood’s movie, Million Dollar Baby.
  3. Macushla is the song in the movie Michael Collins, when the main character, played by Liam Neeson, dances with his beloved prior to things turning south in the rebellion.
  4. Macushla might be more common than we think. At my high school, there were three Macushlas and one Cushla. (What are the chances?)

Right, so about the song, Macushla. Once a favourite among people of a certain age, Macushla was actually a real hit, like, in the time before Spotify, Smartphones, videos and cassettes, but not before gramophones (yes, Macushla the song is literally that old). 

And while it may have been a song appreciated by the more mature among us, for a long time, I wished I’d never heard it. As a painfully shy child, I dreaded meeting new people. In fact, the average meet-and-greet was like torture to me.

What’s your name, dear?”, they would ask in the interested way only older people can.

“Macushla”, I’d whisper, wishing I had a name that was one syllable, easy to remember, and not impossible to say. 

“What? I didn’t hear you. What did you say your name was? Tell me again, love”, they’d repeat.

In my head I’m having a massive thought bubble. Really? Tell you again? I just wish I could disappear into the ground. Like, now. But then I’d same my name again, even quieter than before, hoping it would all be over like the Eighties.

This would go on for a while, until I finally got the message across. Yes, folks, my name really is Macushla. 

Sadly, it did not stop there.

The well-meaning older person would respond with: Oh, Macushla! I haven’t heard that name in years. It’s a beautiful old Irish name. And it’s a song, too. It goes like this.

Imagine my [total] embarrassment when they broke into their very own rendition of Macushla. Where was that hole?

Here’s my new acquaintance: Macushla, Macushla, your sweet voice is calling.

Here’s me: Are you kidding?

And on they went. Calling me softly again and again.

Not only did this experience (which happened countless times as a kid and into my teens) cause me to feel embarrassed about my name, it also stopped me from wanting to use Macushla at all.

Decades went by and I only ever responded to Cush, an abbreviation that ticked the boxes for being a monosyllable and relatively easy to say and spell (although you might be surprised to know, even this truncated version confused people).

But things have changed.

I’m no longer a shy kid. Years of working in business development, approaching people I didn’t know, and some challenging life experiences, put paid to that. Thank you, everyone involved. I mean it.

I’m also okay with repeating my name until people ‘get it’. In fact, now I’m grateful for a name that’s different, special, and that’s been carefully selected, just for me. 

And the clincher? I’m ready to share my message about conscious communication in business, but getting ‘out there’ with my own name on that megaphone. Let’s do this!

It’s not change for the sake of change, PR, or a pure branding exercise.  It’s just that Macushla Collins is my name and it’s time to own it, people. 

So that’s what’s in my name. 

I’m trusting most people I’ve had the good fortune and privilege of working with will rock out with it and not bat an eyelid. For those that don’t, that’s okay too.

I really love my name and it feels good to be using it. Maybe you’ll enjoy using it too. You might even want to brush up on the spelling and Macushla trivia that abounds.

If that’s you, let me help you with that. Want a full rendition of the song, Macushla? No problem. Check out this YouTube. It’s a cracker. 

Looking for name with more meaning, watch the movie length version of Clint’s take on Macushla

Stuck for a name that few people can say and fewer can remember. Why not try it out yourself? With Macushla, you seriously cannot go wrong.

Time to stand up straight

In his recently released book 12 Rules for Life, author Jordan Peterson writes the first rule in life is to “stand up straight with your shoulders back”. Amen to that Jordan.

Lacking confidence and self-belief, I definitely struggled with this for a lifetime. Nearly five years spent wearing a back brace during my teens to “straighten up”, I can totally relate to Jordan’s hot tip for living. Between a name nobody could say and suffocating shyness, it’s any wonder I needed help with life’s number one rule.

But somewhere between old people singing to me and today, I found a steel rod. Now, with a little knowledge and some enriching experiences under my belt, this Macushla is standing up straight – finally.