Irish names are international stars, ranking near the top of popularity lists in Ireland and the US along with many other countries.
Liam is the top Irish boy name in the US, standing at Number 1, and Riley is the top Irish girl name. Many new Irish baby names are replacing old standards like Kathleen and Patrick.
Irish boy names popular in the US include Liam, Ryan, and all spellings of Aiden. Declan and Rowan are both gaining in popularity
Irish girl names in the US are dominated by surname names. They include Riley, Kennedy, and Quinn. Other popular Irish names for girls in the US are Nora and Maeve.
The top baby names in Ireland itself look rather different than they do in the US, though there are also several crossovers. Notably, not all of the top Irish baby names are actually Irish.
The most popular boy names in Ireland include the classic Hebrew James and Noah along with Irish names Conor, Finn, and Liam.
The top ten girl names in the Emerald Isle include only one Irish-language name, Fiadh. Other popular girl names in Ireland are Grace, Emily, and Sophie.
Irish language names are a subset of Gaelic Names, which also include Scottish names and Manx names. Along with Finn and Fiadh, other Irish Gaelic choices among the popular names in Ireland include Eabha, Saoirse, and Aoife for girls; Darragh, Cillian, Oisin and Tadgh for boys.
Irish baby names enjoying international popularity include Liam, which ranks among the top names in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Norway as well as Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Finn ranks among the top names in the Netherlands while variation Fynn is on Germany’s most popular list, and Nora is the second most popular girls’ name in Norway.
Many unique Irish baby names go far beyond the Old School Kevins and Kathleens. If you define unique baby names as names that break the rules on what's conventionally considered a name, then these nontraditional Irish surname names and place names may be ones you want to consider for your daughter or son.
Unique gender neutral Irish names that work for boys and girls include Bellamy, Brady, and Callahan.
Uncommon Irish baby names in the US and most places outside the Emerald Isle -- though some are among the Top 100 names in Ireland -- include Aoife, Cian, Oisin, and Tadgh. Correct Irish spelling and pronunciation can be challenging for non-native speakers.
Browse our complete list of Irish baby names both classic and modern, for girls and for boys, here.
Meaning:"she who intoxicates"
Description:Maeve appears in Irish mythology in two forms, one as the powerful Queen of Connacht, the other as the queen of the fairies. Maeve of Connacht was a warrior queen, famous for starting a war in attempt to steal her ex-husband’s stud bull. Other spellings are Meabh, Medb and Meadhbh, which are connected to mead, a honey-based wine that was produced in many ancient cultures.
Origin:English or Irish
Meaning:"God spear, or deer-lover or champion warrior"
Description:Oscar has Irish and Norse roots—Norse Oscar comes from the Old English Osgar, a variation of the Old Norse name Ásgeirr. The Irish form was derived from the Gaelic elements os, meaning “deer,” and car, “loving.” In Irish legend, Oscar was one of the mightiest warriors of his generation, the son of Ossian and the grandson of Finn Mac Cumhaill (MacCool).
Meaning:"fair or white"
Description:Finn is a name with enormous energy and charm, that of the greatest hero of Irish mythology, Finn MacCool (aka Fionn mac Cuumhaill), an intrepid warrior with mystical supernatural powers, noted as well for his wisdom and generosity.
Origin:Irish, diminutive of Honora, or Greek
Description:Nora has two separate origin stories, as a derivative of both Honora and Eleanor. The Irish and Anglo-Norman version derives from Honora, based on the Latin word honor. The Hungarians spawned Nora as a short form of Eleonora, a variation of Eleanor.
Origin:Scottish and Irish
Meaning:"rowan tree; little redhead"
Description:Rowan – a strong surname and nature name (it's a tree with red berries) – is deservedly growing in popularity. Some scholars identify Rowan as originally a girls’ name, related to Rowena and Rhonwen, while others say Rowan's always been used for both genders. Sharon Stone chose the Roan spelling, which also relates to the reddish color, for her son, while Brooke Shields used Rowan for her daughter. Yet another increasingly popular spelling is Rowen.
Description:Ronan is the compelling legendary name of twelve Irish and Scottish saints that is now drawing some deserved attention; this cousin of the ascending Roman and Rowan was chosen by actor Daniel Day-Lewis and his writer-director wife Rebecca Miller in 1998, and more recently by actress Catherine Bell.
Description:Saoirse originated as a baby name in 1920s Ireland as an applied use of saoirse, the Gaelic word for "freedom." The name was first adopted during the Irish War of Independence, when the Irish Republican Army fought the British Army for the liberation of Ireland from British rule. In modern times, Saoirse, as well as a host of other Gaelic names, are being revived in Ireland, the UK, and the US.
Meaning:"war strife or church"
Description:This classic Irish name , which is better known in this country by its Anglicized form Killian, is one of several newer recommended Gaelic choices that have entered the American name pool. Killian now stands at Number 516 in the US, while Cillian is 22 in its Irish homeland.
Description:This spirited Gaelic classic, which became popular in Ireland via the illustrious twelfth century king Rory O'Connor, makes a highly energetic choice, now used for either sex. Rory's gender split is still trending boyward; it's one of the coolest boys' names starting with R.
Meaning:"leaping water, lady of abundance"
Description:As memories of the outragrous actress Talullah Bankhead have faded, this hauntingly euphonious Choctaw name has re-entered the public domain. A modern hipster favorite, it's been chosen for their daughters by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Patrick Dempsey, Damian Dash, Rachel Roy and Sara Rue, trail-blazed by Demi Moore and Bruce Willis for their now grown daughter. (Trivia tidbit: Bankhead's namesake was her paternal grandmother who, in turn, was named after the Georgia town of Tallulah Falls.)
Meaning:"son of the red-haired one"
Description:Flynn, a charming Irish surname, is still used only quietly, despite its easygoing, casual cowboy charm, unlike Finn which is a star of this genre. Flynn was the choice of Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr for their baby boy, and is also the middle name -- used as his first -- of a son of Miranda's fellow supermodel Elle Macpherson, of Gary Oldman's son Gulliver and Marley Shelton's daughter West.
Origin:Irish short form of William
Description:Liam originated as a nickname for Uilliam, the Irish variation of William. William is an English name from Germanic roots that was brought to Ireland when the British fled England following the Norman Conquest. The Irish began using English names, including William, which led to the development of Uilliam and its short form, Liam.
Meaning:"yew wood, archer"
Description:Ivo is an unusual, catchy name with the energetic impact of all names ending in 'o'. Hardly heard in the U.S., it is used a bit more frequently in England, as is the related Ivor, a favorite of such novelists as Evelyn Waugh and P.G. Wodehouse. Ivo is currently most popular in the Netherlands.
Meaning:"little dark one"
Description:Long popular in Ireland and England, Kieran, the name of Ireland's first-born saint and twenty-five other saints, has been building its U.S. fan base thanks to its strong and attractive sound, and its fashionable Irish brogue. While Ciaran is the more authentic Irish spelling, Kieran is more popular this side of the Atlantic.
Description:Fiadh is the fastest-rising girls' name in Ireland, derived from the ancient root word for "wild". The Anglicized form Fia is one we might see rising in the US as well – to take the place of its popular cousin Mia.
Description:Orla is an Irish name closely associated with the high king Brian Boru, as it was the name of his sister, daughter and niece. It was very popular in the Middle Ages – the fourth most popular name in twelfth century Ireland – and has become popular again in Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales today. In Irish, the name is commonly spelled Orlaith or Orlagh.
Description:A handsome Irish name for boys, very popular in that country, but in the US this traditional spelling might cause pronunciation problems. Still, whether Cian or Kian, it's simple and straightforward enough for the initiated. Cian is rising in the British popularity charts. This was the name of several legendary figures, including Cian, son of the god of medicine. His own son was Lugh, the sun god and father of the Ulster warrior Cuchulain and Cian is also the name of the son-in-law of the high king Brian Boru. So very well connected.
Description:Nolan is one of the rising Irish surname names, in the spirit of Conan and Ronan, partially inspired by pitcher Nolan Ryan-- who was named Lynn at birth, after his father. Nolan is a cheerful, friendly traditional Irish surname with the appropriate meaning of "champion," and one of the new attractive boy names starting with N.
Meaning:"descendent of Conn"
Description:Quinn is the Anglicized version of the Irish patronymic surname Ó Cuinn, meaning "descendent of Conn." Conn has two possible derivations—the Old Irish cond, meaning "intellect," or cenn, meaning "chief." One of the most notable Quinn clans was from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland.
Meaning:"floodtide, abundance, prosperity"
Description:Jaunty and raffish, Rafferty is one of the most engaging of the Irish surnames, used by Jude Law and Sadie Frost for their son. Fortunately, it doesn't still go by its original form: O'Raighbheartaigh.