Deirdre Kelly


I can’t tell you how long I’ve wanted to put DKTO out there as my signature, so to speak,  being a DK who lives in TO, that is, Toronto. 

But, and I don’t know if you’re aware of this, fashion designer Donna Karan is another DK who apparently thinks she owns the initials, having used them to create the popular fashion brand DKNY in the 1980s.

When anyone even comes close to emulating them, Karan has typically slapped down the so-called DK wannabes — with a lawsuit. Such was the case of Donnkenny Inc., a company whose Nasdaq trading symbol — DNKY– was deemed too close to the DKNY brand name that Karan successfully sued on  the basis of trademark infringement. 

But Karan can kiss my DK.

Those letters of the alphabet I was born with. Besides, too many people already call me DK, so I think I could claim squatter’s rights, and win any suit she wants to throw my way.

DK is so much easier on the tongue than my full name Deirdre, which no one ever seems to pronounce correctly on the first go, including some Irish people I have met on my side of the pond, even though Deirdre is a uniquely Irish name,  old as the Druids, and immortalized by scores of Irish poets, among them Synge and Yeats. 

I had an Irish father and he taught me to pronounce my name DeerDree, just as it is spelled (she says indignantly), and not Deerdrah, which is what some people inists on calling me. And it drives me mad. When I lived in Northern Ireland as child that’s how I remember everyone saying it, even the nuns, bless them, so I know I’m not crazy.

(Not-do-gratuitous name dropping opportunity: When I first met Bob Geldof many moons ago, the Irish pop star-turned-philanthropist laughed loudly at my name, asking me, “So where’d you get such a joke Irish name?” Deirdre, and especially Kelly, is as common in Ireland as Susie and Smith is here in North America.  Geldof went further, calling me a walking Irish cliche. But I wasn’t offended. I recall he said Deirdre properly, with an E on the end and not an A, and so I allowed him to call me again, and we became, briefly, friends.) 

Yet, I once met another Deirdre, a saleswoman at The Bay department store as it were, and she had our name on a tag pinned to her chest.  I asked to tell me how she says it. She said Deerdrah. I asked her why.  She answered that her family was from Dublin, and that’s how they say it, there, with an ah at the end and not an ee.  So with that bit of empirical evidence, and based on my own memories of my life in Derry, I concluded that it must be a north-south thing then, as if Ireland didn’t already have enough Troubles (the latest economic meltdown notwithstanding). 

DK has always seemed the perfect compromise: as a salutation it is non-partisan and uncomplicated. Just a couple of letters that go well together– the velvety thickness of the D snuggling cozily against the clicking staccato of the K, as mellifluous on the ear as Lennon-McCartney, which of course I would say, being something of a Beatles freak. But that’s for another blog. So back to DKTO. I think I own it, don’t I?, seeing that it’s my name and my city and my right to do what I want when it is my own website. Even cry if I want to.

But hold on. What’s this? A quick search on Google alerts me to the existence of yet another DKTO, this one the acronym for Kenya Tanzania Overland, an offering of Gap Adventures. So I am not the first. And neither can I now claim to be a DK subversive, thumbing my nose at that other DK for whom our shared initials have made her millions.  But at least I now know that I won’t be the last. Donna Karan has apparently not shut DKTO down. But will DKTO now shut me down? That’s something I hadn’t thought of.  

So quick, let me sign off before anyone can initial a lawsuit against me.



(for better and for worse).

Comments are closed.