March 26, 2009 Pamela Redmond
cool Irish names

Celebrities on both sides of the Atlantic, those with and without Hibernian roots, have long been partial to Irish names for their babies. Here are some of the Irish names for girls and boys recently used by stars for their offspring:

AOIFE (EE-fa) –  Ciarán Hinds
Popular name dating back to a fierce woman warrior in early myth, it as been anglicized as Eva and Ava.

BECKETTMalcolm MacDowell, Melissa Etheridge, Conan O’Brian, Stella McCartney
An appealing last-name name rich in literary associations, both to the play and film based on the life of Saint Thomas à B. and to the Irish playwright-novelist Samuel B., it’s red hot in Hollywood.

BRODYGabrielle Reece & Lance Hamilton
This superstar athlete couple’s choice reflects the new trend towards using Irish surnames like Reagan/Regan and Riley for both sexes: this little Brody is a girl.

CASHEL (Kash-il) – Daniel Day-Lewis & Rebecca Miller
The Irish actor and his American wife chose an unusual Irish place name for their son; it’s also seen as Caisel.

CIARÁN (KEER-in) – Padraig Harrington
The golf star chose an authentic Irish name to match his own.

DARBYPatrick Dempsey
Disney’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People made this spirited, light-hearted name seem more Irish than it actually is.

DELANEYMartina McBride
A solid surname that’s now used far more for girls than boys.

DONOVANCharisma Carpenter, Noel Gallagher
Another appealing surname, this one has long outgrown its “Mellow Yellow” associations.

FINLEYChris O’Donnell, Holly Marie Combs, Lisa Marie Presley
One of the newly popular Fin-family of names, also spelled Finlay (as used by Sadie Frost).

FINNChristy Turlington & Ed Burns, Jane Leeves, Andrea Catherwood
This is a name with enormous energy and charm, that of the greatest hero of Irish myth, Finn MacCool. Other related cool star-baby names: FLYNN (Elle Macpherson), and FINNIGAN (Eric McCormack of Will & Grace fame), not to mention Julia Roberts’ phabulous Phinnaeus.

FIONAJennie Garth
Although this name is a Scottish invention, it has an Irish feel and is commonly found among the Finolas and Fionnualas.

GULLIVERGary Oldman, Damian Lewis
This relatively rare Gaelic surname was known primarily through his literary Travels until actor Oldman transformed it into a lively baby-name option.

IRELANDKim Basinger & Alec Baldwin
If Ireland isn’t Irish, what is?

JAMES PADRAIG (PAW-drig) – Colin Farrell
Cool combination of classic New Testament name with one of the many authentic versions of the name of Ireland’s patron saint.

JUNOWill Champion (Coldplay)
The success of the eponymous little-movie-that-could was sure to establish Juno, with its lively image and classic roots, as a potential baby name–and it’s already started on its way.

KIERANJulianna Margulies
Irish ‘K’ names are a hot commodity for boys–a category that includes Kieran, Keegan, Keaton and Killian.

LENNONPatsy Kensit & Liam Gallagher
Naming a child after your cultural or other hero gives him two cool advantages: a name with real meaning and a positive image to reach towards. Another rocker, Zakk Wylde, chose Hendrix as his son’s musical hero name.

LIAMCalista Flockhart, Tori Spelling
Sprightly and richly textured classic that started as a short form of William.

MAEVEChris O’Donnell
An early Irish goddess and queen name, short but strong, now catching on across the pond. The O’Donnells named another of their five children Finley.

MALACHY (MAL-a-kee)  – Cillian Murphy
An Irish version of a biblical name, with an expansive, almost boisterous image.

MILORicki Lake, Camryn Manheim, Liv Tyler, Sherry Stringfield
Jaunty Irish spin on Miles.

QUINLINBen Stiller
A strong surname name usually spelled Quinlan that could make a child feel distinctive while still having the easy to handle nickname of Quinn.

QUINNSharon Stone
“The mighty Quinn” is a unisex name that’s strong for both genders.

RAFFERTYSadie Frost & Jude Law
One of the coolest of the Irish surnames, with a raffish quality all its own.

ROANSharon Stone
A strong, red-haired choice.

RÓISIN (Roh-sheen) – Sinéad O’Connor
An authentic selection for a little Irish rose.

RONANRebecca Miller & Daniel Day-Lewis
Compelling, legendary name of ten Celtic saints.

ROWANBrooke Shields
This friendly Irish surname was almost unheard of as a girl’s name before Brooke Shields made the gender switch; now it shows lots of potential as a likable, unisex choice.

SAOIRSE ROISIN (SEER-sha Roh-sheen) – Courtney Kennedy
Meaning “liberty,” Saoirse has been used since the 1920s as a statement of freedom.

SHEAKevin James
Common surname that projects spirit and substance; can also be seen as a short form of Seamus.

SULLIVANPatrick Dempsey
A jaunty Irish surname name with a real twinkle in its eye, used for the twin of Darby.

TALLULAHPatrick Dempsey, Simon LeBon, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Damon Dash, Demi Moore & Bruce Willis
coolirishcoverThe then Willises almost single-handedly launched the cool starbaby name concept when they chose SCOUT and RUMER as well as the more user-friendly Tallulah for their girls. This Anglicization of Tuilelaith is now being picked up on by other celeb parents.

For more Irish celebrity baby names, plus Irish names of all flavors, check out our new book Cool Irish Names for Babies.

About the author

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond is the cocreator and CEO of Nameberry. The coauthor of ten bestselling baby name books, Redmond is an internationally-recognized name expert, quoted and published widely in such media outlets as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Today Show,, CNN, and the BBC. Redmond is also a New York Times bestselling novelist whose books include Younger, the basis for the hit television show, and its new sequel, Older.

View all of Pamela Redmond's articles



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