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:

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

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

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13 Responses to “Rooney Mara: Where’d She Get That Name?”

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Greythatch Says:

August 23rd, 2010 at 7:56 am

“Cassidy — Kathie Lee Gifford‘s much-discussed son.”

Her son is Cody and Daughter is Cassidy.

pam Says:

August 23rd, 2010 at 8:12 am

Thank you. Fixed. Says:

August 23rd, 2010 at 8:36 am

Honestly, I never saw the appeal in have these names. Rooney reminds me of “Runny.” Not a fan.

Elle Says:

August 23rd, 2010 at 9:49 am

I love Irish Surnames…I have several on my list.


These are wonderful, strong and sound names. I love them!

jpruitt76 Says:

August 23rd, 2010 at 10:52 am

I’ve long loved Sheridan and Clancy for a little girl…they don’t fit my sibset style, but I think they’re lovely and relatively fresh-sounding options.

spotlightstarlit Says:

August 23rd, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Fallon is my favorite, and high on the list!

Janine Says:

August 23rd, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Rooney’s a sweet name, but I prefer the name of the actress who played Lisbeth in the Swedish film version, Noomi Rapace.

L Says:

August 23rd, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Call me crazy but I’ve always thought Callahan would be an adorable name for a little girl with the nn Calla! I love surnames names for girls!!

Rooney Mara is not only the great-granddaughter of Art Rooney, Sr, but also daughter of New York Giants vice president Tim Mara.

minnowbird Says:

August 23rd, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Sheridan is my surname and I’ve always thought it’d be a good middle name for a son or daughter. It’s in the running right now, anyhow. Good pick! 😉

namefan Says:

August 23rd, 2010 at 5:39 pm

I like Brennan, Casey, Connor, Finnegan, Kelly (my name), Riley, Ryan, and Sullivan. From a discussion on the boards when I was asking about Sullivan, I’ve heard that Irish surnames like these tend to have a different feel than the upper-class-esque image that the more WASPy surnames often have (and in the aforementioned thread was mentioned because those that find many surnames pretentious when used as first names may like other types like Irish ones better).

pam Says:

August 23rd, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Kelly, I think you’re right. The Irish surnames combine a touch of the patrician feel of any surname name, but in a much more friendly, approachable way.

starophie Says:

January 8th, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Hey, two of my names are in the “unique” category! Cool!!!

PeachThePrincess Says:

February 24th, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Did anybody notice that the names Ferris, Sloane and Rooney were all in the same eighties-movie-about-a-day-off?

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