Rooney Mara: Where’d She Get That Name?

Rooney Mara: Where’d She Get That Name?

The world’s been abuzz lately with the casting of relative unknown Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander in the Hollywood version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and its sequels. While others might be interested in the young actress’s previous films or her fashion sense, we name nerds can think of only one thing: Where’d she get that cool name? And how can I get one like it?

Rooney Mara comes by her Irish-surname-as-first semi-honestly: It’s her real middle name and her mother’s original last name. Born Patricia Rooney Mara, the actress dropped her pedestrian first name in favor of her more exotic middle, which means red-haired. Great-grandfather Art Rooney founded the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Rarely heard as a first name — there were 23 boys born with the name in 2009, and fewer than five girls — the new prominence of Miss Mara can only add power to the growing trend of using Irish last names as firsts.  And while Irish surname names have been used for girls as well as boys in recent years, Rooney Mara‘s fame seems certain to further feminize the image of these names.

Other choices with celebrity or pop culture connections include:

  • BradyMiranda‘s son in Sex & The City.

  • CarsonAuthor Carson McCullers.

  • CassidyKathie Lee Gifford‘s much-discussed daughter.

  • Cullen — Surname of Twilight hero Edward.

  • Donovan — One-named (male) British folk singer.

  • Duffy — One-named (female) British pop singer.

  • Fallon — Female Dynasty character.

  • Ferris — Eighties character who had a day off.

  • FlanneryAuthor Flannery O’Connor.

  • Kennedy — The president.

  • Lennon — The Beatle.

  • Murphy — TV’s Murphy Brown.

  • Quinn — Female character on Glee.

  • RaffertyJude Law‘s son’s name.

  • Reagan — Another president.

  • Sloane — Female character on Entourage.

  • Other Irish surnames that have been popular in recent years as first names include:

  • Carey

  • Casey

  • Cassidy

  • Connor

  • Corey

  • Delaney

  • Dillon

  • Finn

  • Kelly

  • McKenna

  • Riley

  • Rowen

  • Ryan

  • Sullivan

  • If you’re looking for something more distinctive, ala Rooney, may we suggest:

  • Branigan

  • Brannon

  • Brennan

  • Brosnan

  • Cagney

  • Calhoun

  • Callahan

  • Callister

  • Carney

  • Clancy

  • Cleary

  • Clooney

  • Connelly

  • Conroy

  • Corcoran

  • Crosby

  • Curran

  • Dacey

  • Daley

  • Dempsey

  • Dolan

  • Donahue

  • Donnelly

  • Doyle

  • Duffy

  • Duryea

  • Egan

  • Farrell

  • Finnegan

  • Fitzgerald

  • Flynn

  • Gallagher

  • Gannon

  • Grady

  • Gulliver

  • Hogan

  • Kavanaugh

  • Keegan

  • Keeley

  • Kiernan

  • Madigan

  • Maguire

  • Malone

  • Nolan

  • O’Brien

  • O’Hara

  • O’Keeffe

  • Phelan

  • Redmond

  • Shea

  • Sheridan

  • Tiernan

  • Tierney

  • Tully

  • About the Author

    Pamela Redmond

    Pamela Redmond

    Pamela Redmond is the cocreator and CEO of Nameberry and Baby Name DNA. The coauthor of ten groundbreaking books on names, Redmond is an internationally-recognized baby 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. She has written about baby names for The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, and People.

    Redmond is also a New York Times bestselling novelist whose books include Younger, the basis for the hit television show, and its sequel, Older. She has three new books in the works.