People often ask me where my name comes from. Then when I tell them my twin sister’s name I really have their attention.

My twin’s name is Nuala. It is not a common name in this part of the world.

The Collins Gem book of Irish First Names states:

Nuala is a short form of Fionnuala or Finola, ‘fair or white shoulder’. There is an alternative, little-used Irish spelling of the name, Fionnghuala. It is also anglicised as Finella, and its short form, Nuala, is now so well used as to count as an independent name.

We were both named after the Glass twins who attended primary school with my father Patrick in Manchester quite a few years ago now.

My name is attached to a saint. Wikipedia states the following about Saint Zita:

Born in 1212 in Monsagrati or Monte Sagrati, near LuccaItaly [1]                    

Patron Saint of domestic servants, homemakers, lost keys, people ridiculed for their piety, rape victims, single laywomen and waitresses.

(I kept the domestic servant knowledge to myself. Growing up in a family of 7 siblings there was high demand for domestic help! I did however end up with a career in hospitality, starting as an apprentice chef and leading to management; hence I guess there is a connection to the waitress mention)

Saint Zita was born in Tuscany in the village of Monsagrati, not far from Lucca where, at the age of 12, she became a servant. She stayed in the same household until her death on 27th April 1272 aged 60 and was canonized in 1696.

Her body was exhumed in 1580, discovered to be incorrupt, but has since become mummified. St. Zita’s body is currently on display for public veneration in the Basilica di San Frediano in Lucca.

Her feast day in the Roman Catholic Church is April 27. To this day, families bake a loaf of bread in celebration of St. Zita’s feast day.

At a cousin’s wedding outside Dublin in the early 1980s I was seated next another Zita. She was an expert in Ming Dynasty porcelain.

Travelling through southern Portugal in 1994 I noticed a tile depicting Saint Zita in the town of Evora in Alentejo. It was above the front doorway of a house.

Hers is a much travelled name.