Irish Baby Names: Top Choices Here and There

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

By Linda Rosenkrantz and Pamela Redmond Satran

Irish baby names appeal to a wide range of parents, whether your background is Irish or not. But the Irish baby names most popular here are very different from those that are hot in their homeland. St. Paddy‘s Day is the perfect moment to look at the top Irish baby names today.

Irish names have, of course, long been popular in America, brought here by immigrants from the middle of the nineteenth century through the present day.

There have been waves of popular Irish names in the US, starting with such stalwarts as Patrick and Bridget and moving through Kelly and Kevin, Shannon and Sean.

Today, the top Irish baby names are very different in both places from those in the past. Let’s take a look and see how they compare.

Here are the Irish baby name currently in the US. Top 100:

Liam #2 for boys—Thanks partly to Liam Neeson, this traditional Irish nickname for William is now the second most popular boy name in America.

Aiden #13 for boys—Though the Gaelic favorite is traditionally spelled Aidan, this is the version that took off like wildfire here at the beginning of the new millennium, spawning dozens of rhymed cousins.

Riley #35 for girls—Riley entered the girls’ column in 1990 and has been climbing since, while moving in the opposite direction for boys.

Ryan, #39 boys—Ryan has been in the boys’ Top 40 for 43 years

Nora , #41 girls—Nora has been a perpetual favorite in the US since records have been published, but has never ranked as high as it does now.

Connor, #54 boys—This is the preferred, double-n, version here; it entered the US list in 1981.

Kennedy #57 girls—a high-ranking Irish-American presidential choice that’s been used much more for girls, it took off in the 90s

Nolan #71 boys—Nolan is another Irish name that has never been more popular in the US than it is now.

Kevin #79 boys—an Irish evergreen, Kevin is now seen as much as a dad or even granddad name as a baby choice; on board since the 1920s, it was at its highest point in 1963, when it was given to more than 30,000 little Kevins.

Brianna–#82 girls—This female form of Brian debuted on the US list in 1976, and by 1988 was in the Top 100, reaching #14 in the last year of the 20th century.

Quinn #97 girls—Young actress Quinn Cummings first showed the feminine potential of this Irish surname, which has been rising since 1979, now used much more for girls than boys.

Reagan #99 girls—The same is true of this presidential surname, associated with a leader-in-chief who projected a buoyant, cheerful image.

St Patrick

Irish Names in Ireland’s Top 50

Conor #4—Just one ‘n’ is tops in the Old Country

Sean #5—The quintessential Irish classic version of John

Aoife #10—pronounced EE-fa (with some regional variations)—a legendary name used for his daughter by actor Cian Hinds

Oisin #13—(oh-SHEEN)—a son of ancient Irish leader Finn McCool; Ossian is another version

Liam #15—as seen above, mega-popular both here and there

Ryan #16, Rian #35—spelling it Rian gives it a more authentic-looking twist

Cian #18 (KEE-en) As Americans begin to be more familiar with its pronunciation, it could catch on here

Patrick #19—the sainted name of the hour

Cillian #20—(KILL–ee-an) Charming actor Cillian Murphy has done a lot for this name’s visibility

Darragh #21—(DA-rah)-A subtle nature name, it means “oak tree”

Saoirse #23—(SEER-sha)—This got Oscar-nomination cred via young Irish actress Saoirse Ronan

Caoimhe #25—(kwee-va or kee-va)-A perennial favorite, it has the lovely meaning of beautiful, precious, beloved, gentle, graceful

Fionn #26–(fin)—The authentic Irish Finn

Ciara #28—(KEER-a)—More popular here as Anglicized Kiera or Keira, Ciara (perhaps via the singer), did reach #150 in the US in 2005.

Finn #33—An international hit du jour, thanks to several celebs and movie and TV shows, and its own ineffable charm

Niamh #34—(neev)—Another ancient Irish name rich in legendary associations, and the heroine of Christina Baker Kline’s bestselling Orphan Train.

Callum #36—Handsome Callum, which means dove, is making inroads here as well, now #42 on Nameberry.

Roisin #37—(ro-SHEEN)—This lovely Irish variety of Rose was used by Sinead O’Connor back in 1997

Erin #38—The poetic name for Ireland itself, it’s gone down in popularity n the US.

Clodagh #44-(CLO-dah)–also the name of a river in Tipperary

Sadhbh #45–(SAH-eev)–the name of several real and legendary Irish princesses

Eoin #46—(o-wen)-Another Irish version of John. Yanks prefer Owen.

Tadgh #48 –(TYEg) A popular name meaning poet, it has a long legendary history as a grandson of Finn McCool

FYI—The non-Irish Jack and Emily are the very top names in Ireland, as they have been for several years running.

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