Finding Rare Celtic Girl Names
Our previous pattern was a Gaelic/Celtic first name, a name from mythology, and a wild card with personal meaning. We’ve searched for something that fits that criteria and haven’t found exactly what we’re looking for, so we’re willing to branch out for a name that suits our sibset and sounds right on its own.
We both like Saoirse, but it sounds horrible with our last name (it starts with a “sh” sound so together it sounds like slurring). My husband likes Freya, but we decided against it because of the popularity. He has also suggested Andromedea and Artemis. I’m fine with Artemis in a middle name spot.
We would love some guidance because we are almost out of time to choose and don’t even have a “maybe” list!
The Name Sage replies:
Except there’s another quality I hear in your children’s names. They’re complete and require no shortening. When it comes to naming a daughter, I’d call Mairead feminine, but not frilly. There’s a lot of strength to your favorites.
Could it be that more elaborate names – Andromeda, after all, clocks in at four syllables – just plain feel too long?
Lots of Gaelic favorites, like Caoimhe and Orlagh, come to mind. But chances are you’ve already considered them. (Though if you’d like to try again, our list of Unique Irish Girl Names or Unique Scottish Girl Names might be a place to start.)
It’s not exactly a Scottish given name, but it fits with rare Celtic girl names. Afton is a Scottish river, immortalized in poetry by the legendary Robert Burns. (In “Sweet Afton,” the only name mentioned in Mary.) It’s filtered into occasional use, and sounds like the tailored names on your list. Another bonus: it’s often set to music, like this Nickel Creek recording from 2000, so it comes with a built-in lullaby.
Another Welsh name, Carys means love. It’s relatively common in the UK, almost unknown in the US. Depending on where you love, it could be a great stands-out/fits-in kind of choice.
I dismissed Andromeda as too elaborate, but I wonder if Talulla appeals? It claims Irish roots, though American actor Tallulah Bankhead’s similar name was probably Choctaw or Creek. It shares the strong L sound of Ottilie, and might be shortened to Lula or Lulu. One consideration: Tallulah is more common in England and Wales than the US.
Maren sounds like it could be just right, but it also seems a little close to Mairead. Maybe Tamsin would substitute? It’s a Cornish shortening of Thomasina. An earlier generation might have called her Tammy, but Tamsin seems like the perfect of familiar and rare.
From your original list, I think Liadan is pretty much perfect. It’s surprising and uncommon, but relatively easy to spell and pronounce.
But if Liadan isn’t quite right, I’d suggest Afton. It’s similar in origin to your older kids’ names, but still slightly different. The straightforward sound pairs nicely with Mairead. And it leaves lots of opportunity for a big, bold mythological middle. Afton Artemis sounds great together.