Irish culture is known around the world, and many of us think about it a little bit more this time of year as St. Paddy’s Day approaches and our thoughts wander towards Leprechauns, a celebration of green, clovers and everything Irish. Irish music, Gaelic games, art and tradition have also been influenced by English and Scottish culture.
However, Irish culture is strong enough in its historical ties to uphold a modern preservation. They have their own language and a beautiful island full of scenic views and wonderful people. The biggest city in Ireland is Dublin, with it's seaside charm and modern day feel.
Irish history includes a Celtic age of mystery and wonder, with a beautiful landscape full of crisp green views of rolling hills and a small town approach to life which can be intriguing, particularly in these fast paced times. Ireland is filled with mountains, seascapes, river valleys, and tranquil and awe inspiring lakes. It’s no wonder so many wonderful writers have seen great inspiration in Ireland.
Whether you have Irish roots, conceived your child while vacationing in Ireland, love James Joyce, or are looking for names outside the box of typical popular Northern American baby names this list is for you. In celebrating everything Irish, let’s take a look at the path less traveled, and some names infused with four leaves clovers, with 25 Irish baby names that make fantastic first and middle names for the little babe who’s going to be the newest addition to your family’s clan. So, may the luck of the Irish be with you, and your kin!
This patriotic name that means freedom and liberty originated in the 1920s and is a very popular choice for little girls born in Ireland. The name is pronounced Seer-sha, and is the main character in a lovely children’s fantasy tale from 2014.
It is about a little girl Saoirse who is born without a voice, and her brother who blames her for her mother’s untimely death. The story involves selkies and other faerie creatures including Celtic Goddess Macha. My daughter loves this name so much, several of her stuffed animals are named Saoirse.
A variation of this name is Sorcha (meaning beaming), who is a character in the film Willow. This name is gaining momentum and is currently ranked at 136 on Nameberry.
This little girl’s name is pronounced as Neev and is Gaelic in origin. Niamh means radiance or bright. “Niamh of the Golden Hair” was the mythological daughter of sea God Manannan and was described as a beautiful princess who rode on a white horse.
According to the legend of Niamh and Oisin the two fell in love and 300 years passed so quickly that it felt like just three weeks. This is another name that is much more popular in the UK/Ireland than it is in North America.
It currently ranks 378 in popularity in Nameberry overall, however is 21 in Northern Ireland, and saw its heyday in 2003 in Ireland when it was the 11th most popular baby girl’s name in the country.
Bambi is probably the most famous little deer, but most people don’t want to name their son after Thumper’s BFF. Oison is a Celtic name which comes from the Celtic root word “os”, meaning deer and Oisin meaning “little deer”. The name is pronounced oh-Sheen. Legend has it that warrior Fionn Mc Cool and the Goddess Sive had a son.
Unfortunately, the Dark Druid turned Sive into a deer, but still she raised her child in the woods. When Fionn was hunting he came upon his seven year old son and named him Little Deer (aka Oisin). This name is quite rare, ranking 966 so far this year on Nameberry, but if you’re in Ireland expect to come across more people with this name as it ranked 13th in popularity in 2014.
This sweet and short name almost rolls off the tongue. It sounds like a nickname, and can be a cute short-form for the more adult name Albert, but holds its own as a name. This name is derived from an old Irish word that means “white”, and can be used for a little boy who is born during a winter storm, or pay tribute to a family member with the surname White. Have thoughts of fishing with your little one?
Consider this story about the 6th Century Saint (Ailbe). He was believed to have provided a blessing for a river that had no fish and had his blessing provide plenty of fish the same day. Five churches were built in his honor, in the places where the fishing spots were best.
Alby can be used for a little girl, but is more frequently associated with boys and ranks at 1815 on Nameberry.
This popular name is Celtic in origin and means warm, fire, little fire, or ardent. This name was made popular in the 7th Century in Ireland after an Irish monk. The name rose in popularity again in the 19th Century and remains a very fashionable choice for modern parents today.
The choice of this name can be used for little boys and girls, although it remains much more common for little boys. Aidan as a choice for a girl ranks 2252 and is 447 for little boys according to Nameberry.
Notable people who share the name include: Actor Aidan Quinn, the fictional Sex in the City heartthrob Aidan Shaw.
This name can be used for either gender and derives from a Gaelic Irish surname Ó Bradáin. It means kin of Bradán and comes from a Gaelic word that means salmon. The bradán feasa is the Salmon of Wisdom in the Irish myth Fionn MacCool who was once “The Wise”.
Legend has it that an ordinary salmon consumed nine hazelnuts that had fallen into the Well of Wisdom and gained all of the knowledge in the entire world. Whoever ate this salmon would gain all of the knowledge in the world as well. So naming a future honor-roll student and high achiever Braden just makes sense.
The name Brayden ranked 61st for boys on Nameberry in 2015, and is less common at 6581 for girls.
There are many alternate spellings for this name such as: Bradan, Bradin, Bradun, Bradyn, Braedan, Braeden, Braedin, Braedon, Braedyn, Braidan, Braiden, Braidon, Braidun, Braidyn, Braydan, Brayden, Braydin, Braydon, Braydyn, Bradiss, Bradden or Bradn.
Briana is a Celtic name and the feminine version of Brian and comes from the Old Celtic word “Brigh”. It means strong, virtuous, honorable, or the noble one. Briana is a character in the epic, and unfinished, poem by Edmund Spenser as an allegorical work titled, The Faerie Queen. Briana is in book six of the poem. Other popular variations of the spelling of the name include: Breana, Breanna, and Brianna.
Game of Thrones fans may like this name as Brienne of Tarth is a loyal high born lady who would much rather be a knight than a lady. This feminine name currently ranks 624 in popularity on Nameberry.
Notable people who share the name include: American ballet dancer Briana Shepherd and Northern Irish singer from the band The Beautiful South, Briana Corrigan.
This masculine Gaelic name is a rarity in North America, and is primarily given in Ireland and Scotland, which makes it an unusual choice for parents who want to gift their child with a unique name that no one in their class is going to have. The name Cairbre means “charioteer” or “one who rides a chariot” in Gaelic.
This little boy’s name is so rare that it has never ranked in the top 1000 in North America, so consider it before it catches on! It is pronounced Kar-Bruh.
Alternate spellings for this name include: Carbrey, Carbry (Irish), Carbrey, Carbry (Scottish).
“Less than the dust beneath thy chariot wheel, Less than the rust that never stained thy sword,” Laurence Hope
Parents who want to name their little dove after a Gaelic dove should choose the name Colm. This boy’s name is a Gaelic form of the Latin word Columba meaning dove. St. Columba of Iona was also known as “dove of the church”. He was a prince of the O’Neill clan and known as a poet and scholar.
His monks were known for creating The Book of Kells and he is believed to be involved in some of the manuscripts. He was born in 521 AD, and set up 27 monasteries and 40 churches in Ireland, before setting up another monastery on the island of Iona. This name is also connected to the more common English and Irish name “Calum”.
Notable people who share the name include Irish actor Colm Meaney.
This Celtic surname has been converted into a top 1000 boy name that gained popularity in the early 1900’s. The name is an Anglicized version of the name O'Donnabháin and is a compound of donn (meaning brown) and dubh (which means black). The name means strong fighter or dark, as per its origin and currently ranks 239 overall in popularity on Nameberry.
The Soul Urge number for this name is four, and people who have the name Donovan need order, and physical creativity and gravitate to conventional pursuits.
Notable people who share the name include: Olympic runner Donovan Bailey, football player Donovan McNabb and “Mello Yellow” rock singer Donovan.
Dorian Gray is most famous as a character from Irish writer Oscar Wilde, from his book “The Portrait of Dorian Gray” about a man who never ages, while his portrait does, grotesquely. This name can be used for both little girls and boys and actually isn’t Irish at all. It originates as a name of a Greek Tribe, but was born as a first name through the mind of Mr. Wilde, so will forever be connected to Ireland.
This name sits in the top 1000 names around the world, ranking higher in the US at 563 than its overall global position of 845.
JD, John Dorian is the main character in the popular television show Scrubs.
Turn an ancient Irish surname and nickname into a fantastic fit for a baby! The name was once, in full, O’Flannery and comes from the words flann (which means red) and abrha (which means eyebrows) and is most likely representative of Viking roots. The name also is associated with bravery.
Many Vikings or Norseman were living in Ireland for a number of years before they moved towards the British mainland. In fact, Dublin was once the capital of the Irish Viking Kingdom way back in the 10th Century. This name can be used for both baby girls and boys, and ranks 2724 on Nameberry for popularity for girls, and a less common 5114 for boys.
A great little girls name for those who like Katie, Hailey, and Kelly, but want something a little less popular. This name is a fairly recent merging of the names Kay and Lee and also sounds similar to the Irish word “ceili” which means gathering. The name means laurel or crown which is perfect for a little princess.
Kaylee ranks 745 in popularity according to Nameberry. Variations of this name include Caylee, Kayly, Kayleigh, Kylee, Kalley and Kaley.
Notable people who share the name include: The Big Bang Theory actor Kaley Cuoco, and a fan favorite in the short-lived Joss Whedon series Firefly was named Kaylee.
This is a simply lovely baby girl’s name that derives from the masculine root Kevin. It comes from the word Caomh and is the spelling of the name to phonetically match its pronunciation. Its meaning is gentle, precious, and beautiful. It is a Gaelic name and is usually given in English speaking countries.
Seriously, what could be more perfect for a little girl? This remains most popular in its home country of Ireland. In fact, it ranked number 12 in terms of popularity in Ireland in 2003. The name ranks 3446 in overall popularity on Nameberry, and just squeaks into the top 1000 at 998 in England.
If your baby is born with dark hair or a beautifully tanned complexion, this might be the right name for you! Keiran derives from the name Kier. In Irish language Kier comes from the name Ciar, meaning small dark one, dark-haired or dusky. At least 26 saints have been named Keiran.
Although this is a male name, some who love this name opt for Keira (like Keira Knightly) for little girls. Keiran is a top 1000 name on Nameberry, ranking 979 in terms of popularity and is much more common in the UK compared to its use in North America.
Notable people who share the name include actor Keiran Culkin, and English Footballer Keiran Gibbs.
Liam is the Irish version of the longer classic Germanic name William, but is a fantastic stand-alone name. The meaning of the name is strong protector. This name has become extremely popular over the past several years and is the fastest growing Irish name in terms of popularity in America. Liam ranked number two in terms of popularity for a boy’s name in 2015, and is currently ranking 25th for 2017.
Notable people who share the name include Irish actor Liam Neeson (who is believed to be the first person to make this name popular), Liam Hemsworth, One Direction member Liam Payne, and brother fighting Oasis rocker Liam Gallagher.
There is some debate over whether or not this name is Irish or Scottish. Logan’s Irish origin comes from the last name O’Loughan, and is a misunderstood name that is often translated incorrectly to the meaning “duck”. The Gaelic meaning of the name means “from the hollow” or “small hollow”.
The name Logan hit it’s peak of popularity in the 1990’s thanks to characters named Logan including X-Man Wolverine, Gilmore Girls, and Veronica Mars. This name, which can be used for both girls and boys, currently ranks at 130 in terms of overall popularity according to Nameberry.
The similar name Rogan (meaning redhead) is an Irish name for little boys that is a little more unique for those who love Logan, but are looking for something a little rarer.
A new baby can bring “a cause for great joy” which is the exact meaning of an old Irish name Madb, which evolved into the sweet girl’s name which also means “she who intoxicates”. Maeve was the great warrior queen of Connacht, who was in Ireland’s epic legend “The Cattle Raid of Cooley” and has also been known as the queen of the fairies.
Some feel this is a more modern choice than the classic name Mavis, and can be easily shortened to Mae. This name is surprisingly popular in 2017, currently ranking at 23 for little girls on Nameberry, but ranked 450 in 2015.
Notable people with the name include Irish author Maeve Binchy.
I had to add this name to the list, since I used it for my own daughter and I love that no one in her class or pre-school has ever shared the name. Molly is the pet name for Mary or Mallaidh in proper Irish (which means you’ll probably come across a lot of dogs and cats named Molly). The name means “star of the sea”.
The name is said to be for those who are down to earth, mild, yet a little bit sassy, which is my daughter in a nutshell.
The only thing that gives me pause to this name, and annoys me endlessly is the popularity of the street drug Molly, but I’m hopeful that it will pass by the time my daughter hits her teen years.
Notable people who share the name include actor Molly Ringwald, Ulysses character Molly Bloom, and Revolutionary War Heroine Molly Pitcher.
Like the name Neil, but want something a little more original with a hint of an Irish draw, consider Niall, a fantastic name that can be used for both boys and girls. The name is believed to come from nel meaning cloud, or meaning passionate. There was a legend about a Fourth Century King named Niall who gained his crown of Tara because he passed a test.
In the test Niall and his brothers entered a forest to find food and shelter, as time went on they were unsuccessful and approached a well-guarded watering hole that was protected by an abominably ugly woman. Before she would allow anyone to drink water, she asked them for a kiss.
It was only Niall who agreed to kiss her, and upon their kiss she became the most beautiful woman on the entire earth and granted him sovereignty.
Niall Ferguson is a famous and highly respected historian who was named one of Time Magazine’s most influential people in 2004.
Is a list about Irish names complete without mention of the patron Saint Patrick? Green beer, Guinness drinking, and Shamrock Shake aficionados will appreciate this uber traditional Irish name.
The name has Latin roots and means noble patrician. This classic name, is no longer overused despite still ranking at a popular 164 for little boys, but enjoyed a top 30 spot in the 1960’s, so there are a lot of baby boomers/ gen Xers who have the name Patrick, and remains a top 20 name in Ireland.
Notable people who share the name include: actors Patrick Stewart, Patrick Dempsey and Patrick Swayze, Basketball player and coach Patrick Ewing, and football coach and former player Pat Riley.
Quinn is a fantastic name for baby boys and girls that is the Anglicization of the Irish (Celtic) last name O Cuinn, which means descendant of Conn (meaning leader or chief) and is affiliated with intelligence.
This name used to be more popular for little boys, but has gained momentum and surpassed the boy version in the mid-1990s thanks to Joker’s girlfriend Harley Quinn and a cheerleader on the popular show Glee. Quinn currently ranks 325 in popularity on Nameberry for boys and 141 for girls.
Notable people who share the name include: basketball players Quinn Cook and Quinn Buckner, and metal singer Quinn Weng.
Rowan seems like a fantastically modern name for baby boys and girls, however it has been used since the Middle Ages, although some like to debate this since the name Rowan was not used outside of stories and literature until more modern times.
Rowan is a type of tree found in Ireland and Scotland with red berries that was believed to scare off witches. As an Irish last name it simply meant, “the red one”, so a fantastic choice for a baby with red hair. In 2017 the name Rowan currently ranks 213th on Nameberry, with one girl being given the name Rowan for every two boys bearing the name.
Notable people with the name included Mr. Bean ,Rowan Atkinson, and fictional character and powerful witch Rowan Mayfair from the Anne Rice novel The Witching Hour.
Ryan is the English version of the Irish last name O Riain. Ryan means little king, and is a unisex name popular for little princes and princesses everywhere. This name has been one of the most popular Irish names to pop up in North American and was in the top 20 names for boys until 1976, and currently sits at 39.
While Ryan is a rarer name for little girls, and some prefer to use the name Rion instead, as it means little queen in Irish. Currently Ryan sits at 1314th in popularity for little girls.
Notable people who share the name include: Ryan Gosling, Ryan Reynolds, Ryan Seacrest, and Ryan Phillippe.
This is a great name for a future leader who is going to make a difference through activism and passion. This Celtic name can be used for both boys and girls and means uproar, noise or sorrowful. This name has been increasing in popularity since the 1970s and has been placing around the top 100 mark since the mid-1990s.
A big influence in this was the popularity of Brad Pitt’s character Tristan Ludlow in the movie Legends of the Fall. Tristan last ranked 101 for boys in the United States in 2015, and is a much more unlikely choice for girls sitting at 2432. Many people feel this name is too masculine for a little girl, but others find it a refreshing change from the more commonly used name Kristen.
Sources: BabyNames, Baby Names of Ireland, Nameberry, Irish Central
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