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Moya is a phonetic spelling of the Irish name Maeve.

While the name in either spelling has never been common outside Ireland, the phonetic spelling is found with surprising frequency in the Canberra region in Australia. I have not one but two aunts, unrelated to each other, named Moya. This intrigued me, so I looked into it.

Dr Moya Blackall (later Bailey) was one of the first doctors to practice in the newly founded city of Canberra, and the first female doctor most people in the area had ever met. Her father was already established in the area as a highly respected doctor. When Moya graduated from Sydney University in 1929 she returned home to Canberra, and quickly gained a reputation for excellence in the field of obstetrics. She delivered her first set of twins soon after graduating, near the small town of Gundagai. In those days, before ultrasounds or even regular pre-natal checkups, twins arrived as a surprise. Hearing that this was the first set of twins Dr Blackall delivered, the grateful parents named their daughters Moya and Clare

There are many women around Canberra who were born in the 1930s through to the 50s named Moya. Whenever I meet one I ask them about it. Occasionally they are named for a relative, but often they will tell me about a difficult or remarkable birth.

Family legend says that Clare, the second twin, was given the middle name of the doctor, however sources tell me that Dr Blackall's middle name was actually Kathleen. Perhaps the good doctor simply liked the name Clare, and suggested it when asked. Many of the Moyas I have spoken to have the middle name Clare, especially the ones who had a difficult start in life.

 


 

Sources:

The online sources were accessed on September 24, 2018