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Category: Irish baby names

Smiling Irish surnames

 
For many decades, baby namers have had a mad romance with Irish family names. From Ryan to Riley to Rowan, Connor to Quinn, the US popularity rolls have been populated with cheery Irish surnames. Below are 12 of the many that embody that infectious Celtic charm—some of them new to the scene, others on their way up, and a few from the past that deserve a fresh look. By Linda Rosenkrantz

Though most of these names read boy, let’s not forget the female examples of Cassidy and Casey and Delaney and Murphy Brown, Tierney Sutton and Rooney Mara—that have gone to the other side!

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"Dare" - 2009 Sundance Portrait Session

The world’s been abuzz lately with the casting of relative unknown Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander in the Hollywood version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and its sequels. While others might be interested in the young actress’s previous films or her fashion sense, we name nerds can think of only one thing: Where’d she get that cool name? And how can I get one like it?

Rooney Mara comes by her Irish-surname-as-first semi-honestly: It’s her real middle name and her mother’s original last name. Born Patricia Rooney Mara, the actress dropped her pedestrian first name in favor of her more exotic middle, which means red-haired. Great-grandfather Art Rooney founded the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Rarely heard as a first name — there were 23 boys born with the name in 2009, and fewer than five girls — the new prominence of Miss Mara can only add power to the growing trend of using Irish last names as firsts.  And while Irish surname names have been used for girls as well as boys in recent years, Rooney Mara‘s fame seems certain to further feminize the image of these names.

Other choices with celebrity or pop culture connections include:

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