Irish Baby Names: The new most popular
The new most popular Irish baby names were just announced, with the Top 10 dominated by — non-Irish names.
The new Top 10 for girls contains not a single Irish choice:
But further down in the Top 100, the Irish popularity list includes several Irish names. We relied on the excellent audio by the late author Frank McCourt at Baby Names of Ireland for the pronunciations. The Irish girls’ names in the Top 100, in order of popularity, are:
Ciara — Ciara is the authentic Irish spelling of the name better known in the U.S. as Keira, the most popular American spelling thanks to Ms. Knightley, or Kiera, which relates more directly to the male Kieran (or in Irish, Ciaran). The name means dark or black-haired. Kyra may be pronounced the same but is a variation on Cyrus.
Aisling — Pronounced ash-ling, this name derives from a poetic genre.
Muireann — The pronunciation of this name is a bit difficult for the English-speaking tongue: It’s mweer-in. Muireann was a mythical mermaid who was turned into a woman by a saint.
And for boys:
Fionn and Finn—Both pronounced Finn and both mega-popular in Ireland, but Finn is clearly the one taking off in the States. Finn–or Fionn—Mac Cool is the brave and handsome central character of Irish myth.
Callum and Calum—Interchangeable spellings of a name that actually has Scottish origins and means ‘dove.’ is a symbol of peace and purity. The Callum spelling is the one that’s taken off here, now at Number 847.
Tadhg—A name with quite a tricky pronunciation — ti-gue–Tadhg, which means poet or philosopher, was the grandfather of Finn Mac Cool. Somehow we don’t see it heading for the US pop list any time soon.
For the full list of top Irish names, go here.
The only Irish names on the U.S. Top 100 are, for girls, the surname names Riley and Kennedy. For boys, the Irish names beyond Aiden and its variations in the Top 100 are Liam, Ryan, Connor, Kevin, Brody, and Nolan.
If you’d like to know more about Irish names, check out our book, Cool Irish Names for Babies.
About the author
View all of 's articles
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
on July 11th, 2012 at 11:54 pm
I’m kind of happy my name is moving down in the charts… it makes me more unique!
on July 12th, 2012 at 2:08 am
Niall may become better known through Niall Horan a member of British Boy Band One Direction. Niall is from Northern Ireland. I am not sure how well known they are in the US but in Australia they are huge.
on July 12th, 2012 at 2:37 am
Ooo I love Oisin 🙂
on July 12th, 2012 at 5:38 am
Hear you on Niall — read much more about it/him right here tomorrow!
on July 12th, 2012 at 7:36 am
How realistic in america are these?We have decided to use an irish name not on this list, but I am getting cold feet because of pronunciation and spelling issues. I guess if zai’yairiah can be pronounced Zaire I shouldnt worry so much?
on July 12th, 2012 at 10:35 am
I’m usually not a proponent of changing original spellings…but 90% of these would only be usable in the US spelled phonetically.
on July 12th, 2012 at 1:55 pm
Aoife, Clodagh, Orla (or Orlaith), Tara and Eimear (I also like the phonetically spelt Emer) are favourites of mine. From the boys I like Oisin, Tadhg, Daithi and Odhran. I also REALLY love something about the spelling Ruairi, but I’m not overly fussed about Rory.
I think all of these are more usable in the UK (outside of Northern Ireland, I mean) than in the states, understandably, because they’re used far more commonly. For instance, Dara is well-recognised here thanks to the comedian Dara Ó Briain. I also know several non-Irish kids named Aoife, Ciara, Niamh, Orla, Tara, Cian, Ciaran, Finn and Niall.
I really love Irish names, and I’d love to use one to honour my Irish heritage when I have kids.
on July 12th, 2012 at 1:56 pm
Interesting that Sarah and Tara are popular! Two names never suggested on nameberry. They’ve definitely had their day in the U.S.
on July 12th, 2012 at 3:33 pm
This list was really exhausting to get though. Phonetic spellings would be the only way to go in the US.
on July 12th, 2012 at 7:25 pm
I always thought Niamh/Neve was pronounced “Nev” and not “Neev.” I like the sound of “Nev” so much better! Bummed.
I ADORE Callum but it’s already catching on in my little corner of the world. Last year I had not one but 2 Callums in one of my classes!
on July 12th, 2012 at 9:34 pm
With the possibilities in Australia there are quite a few Niamh’s and Neve’s. Sinead and Ciara are also used. I know one Orla and her actual name is Orflaugh which she says is the proper Irish way to spell it. Callum and Rory are common here as is Ryan. Ciaran is more commonly spelt Kieran. Ronan Keating is an Irish singer-songwriter and a judge on our version of The X Factor. There are heaps of Finn’s and that ranks in our top 100 with Finlay and Finley following behind. Irish Australians seem to use the easier to pronounce Irish Names
on July 13th, 2012 at 2:17 pm
Hi I’m Irish and I’m familiar with the vast majority of these names, my own name is included on the list! 🙂
I’d just like to correct some of the pronunciation as I am a fluent Irish speaker:
Caoimhe – more commonly pronounced as “qwee-va” in Ireland, but “kee-va” is not unheard of.
Saoirse – can also be pronounced as “seer-sha” but Saoirse Ronan herself uses the pronunciation “sare-sha”
Aisling – very popular in Ireland! It means vision or dream.
Aine – is pronounced “awn-ya” as in fawn or yawn.
Aoibhinn and Aoibheann — would NEVER be pronounced as “even” in Ireland hahaha!!! It’s “aye-veen” and it means lovely or beautiful.
In Irish speaking areas, known as Gaeltacht regions, certain names are pronounced slightly differently, for example Meave, ( Meadbh is the Irish spelling, with a “d”) would be pronounced “mee-ub” and Sinead would be pronounced “shin-ud”.
Siobhan – this is pronounced “shi-vawn” and is the Irish version of Joan.
Tadhg- like saying “tiger” but without the “er”
Ciaran – is actually pronounced “keer-awn”.
Fionn – pronounced “fee-yun”, not “finn” and it means fair, or fair-haired
Also Fionn “Mac Cool” is incorrect. The correct spelling is Fionn mac Cumhaill pronounced “Mac Cool”.
I also wouldn’t underestimate the potential for “Darragh” to catch on in the US- it’s an immensely popular boys name in Ireland and it has a very masculine meaning derived from “oak tree”.
Also @ebenezer.scrouge – Niall Horan from One Direction is not from Northern Ireland he’s from Mullingar, County Westmeath, Ireland.
Finally, some of these names are missing a fada- a fada is basically an accent over a vowel and it changes the pronounciation e.g. an “I” gets an “ee” sound when there is a fada.
Hope this comment was helpful!!
on December 28th, 2012 at 11:16 pm
I’m curious how you define “Irish names” Nameberry. You must mean fake, Americanized Irish names. Have you ever heard of Grace O’Malley? Katie is an Irish name too. Jack, James, Sean, Daniel and Michael are all Irish. Conor and Ryan are Irish surnames adopted by Americans as first names that trickled back to Ireland as first names.
on August 18th, 2013 at 8:47 am
The first four Irish girl names all belong to my sisters and I; Aoife Sinead Orlaith, Saoirse Aisling Alannah , Ciara and Caoimhe. Eimear and Aoibhe, my other sisters are also there too. Although, I’ve been in an all irish school all my life and live in a gaeltacht area, your pronunciation of Caoimhe is wrong though some people do say it like that. KWEE-VA…
leave a reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.