St. Patrick’s Day Baby Names: Irish melody makers
Enya — The haunting single-name singer was born Eithne Ni Bhraonáin to an Irish-speaking family in County Donegal, Enya being one of the approximate transliterations of Eithne. Eithne was the name of a mythical goddess who lived only on milk, and of nine later saints.
Niall — Though Harry Styles of One Direction may get more teen attention, we favor his Irish-named bandmate Niall Horan. An ancient Irish name associated with a powerful fifth century king, Niall is recently out of the Top 100 in Ireland, Number 898 on Nameberry.
Sinéad — Probably the most famous/infamous figure in the Irish music world is Sinéad — pronounced shin-AID — O’Connor, almost as well known for her outspoken, sometimes controversial views as for her music. Sinéad is the Irish form of Janet.
Bono — OK, so he was born Paul David Hewson — that doesn’t mean we can’t consider Bono as a cool music hero name à la Jagger and Lennon. He was nicknamed ‘Bono Vox,’ meaning ‘good voice,’ by a friend in adolescence. Apart from three ‘normally’ named kids, Bono also has Elijah Bob Patricius Guggi Q.
Máiréad — Máiréad (pronounced mah-raid) Nesbitt is a classical and Celtic music performer, currently the fiddler for the group Celtic Woman. Her name is the Irish form of Margaret and has been popular in Eire since the medieval era.
Colm — Colm Wilkinson is the Irish tenor who originated the role of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables and also played the title role in The Phantom of the Opera. Colm, a popular boy’s name in Ireland, is actually pronounced as two syllables — col-um — and means ‘dove’. Many Americans probably heard it first via novelist Colm Tóibín.
Róisin — Róisín Murphy is a singer-songwriter known for her electronic style. This pretty Irish cousin of Rose — pronounced ro-SHEEN — is very popular in Ireland, currently at Number 38. Sinead O’Connor used it for her daughter.
Donal — Donal Skehan is a young Irish singer, and also a TV personality, food writer and photographer. As a member of the band Industry, he had two #1 Irish singles. We think the Irish form Donal seems a lot cooler than the English Donald.
Feargal — Feargal Lawler was the drummer in the Limerick rock band The Cranberries. Feargal, also spelled Fergal, was a high king of Ireland and an early Irish saint. Fergal is also the source of the more user-friendly Farrell.
Maire — The folk singer/harpist born Máire Ni Bhraonáin, a sister of Enya, is known both as Moya and Máire Brennan; their other siblings include Bridin, Ciarán and Pól. Maire, the Irish form of Mary, is pronounced with two syllables.
Ronan — Singer-songwriter Ronan Keating became known as the lead singer of the group Boyzone, then went on to have a successful solo career. Ronan is an international success story — in the Irish Top 100 and Number 294 here, and currently associated with high-achieving celebrity son Ronan Farrow (originally named Satchel).
Van — He was born George Ivan Morrison, and, though his birth and stage names aren’t quintessentially Irish, the iconic singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist Van Morrison — aka The Belfast Cowboy — certainly has to be included. Van is more often heard as a surname syllable but was once rated as high as Number 234 on its own.
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on March 14th, 2014 at 12:15 am
How is Bono’s son’s middle name ‘Guggy’ pronounced? “GOO-jee?”
I like Mairead and Maire.
on March 14th, 2014 at 1:50 am
I adore Irish names, great list and I could list sooo many more that I love.
on March 14th, 2014 at 3:02 am
on March 14th, 2014 at 3:32 am
I remember buying that Ronan Keating album in the picture – that was a long time ago.
on March 14th, 2014 at 5:25 am
I love Enya (the Eithne spelling is gorgeous but prone to serious mispronunciation issues outside of Ireland).
I also like Roisin, which is more familiar to the rest of the world (especially in Britain) but still prone to problems.
Saoirse is my favourite Irish name, but same problems again!
on March 14th, 2014 at 5:56 am
The names on here are gorgeous, but mostly I’m excited that two of my favorite musicians (Sinead O’Connor and Van Morrison) have been featured. I was expecting Sinead to crop up, since it’s a lovely and very Irish choice, but I was not expecting to see Van on here.
on March 14th, 2014 at 9:19 am
Love Niall, Donal, and Colm. Also Roisin. Names you didn’t mention are Aine, Grainne, and Eilis, which I also love. (Although the only Irish children I currently know are Stella, Ava, and twins Charlie and Cora.)
on March 14th, 2014 at 10:41 am
I love authentic Irish names!
Mairead is more popularly spelled Mairead, rather than Mairiead, though. I love a lot of these, including Sinead, Roisin, and Donal. I first learned of Donal as the name of the character in A War of Children, the young Donal Tomelty played by Danny Figgis.
How is Maire pronounced? I’ve seen it Maur-ya, but learned of other possible pronunciations, too.
Here are some others I love:
on March 14th, 2014 at 10:42 am
I meant Shi-VAUGHN as the pronunciation of Siobhan.
on March 14th, 2014 at 10:46 am
Okay, yeah, HOW is Maire pronounced??? It looks so pretty.
on March 14th, 2014 at 11:25 am
I live in Ireland (admittedly in Dublin, where the Irish language isn’t as strong), but I have only ever heard Maire pronounced moy-rah.
on March 14th, 2014 at 11:47 am
Sloane for a girl and Riordan for a boy.
on March 14th, 2014 at 12:09 pm
My Irish best friend is Maire pronounced moyra
on March 14th, 2014 at 12:14 pm
March 14th, 2014 at 11:25 am
“I live in Ireland (admittedly in Dublin, where the Irish language isn’t as strong), but I have only ever heard Maire pronounced moy-rah.”
Thank you. That’s helpful.
on March 14th, 2014 at 12:18 pm
I like Aine rather than Enya.
Aisling is nice, but everyone will think it’s Ashley.
on March 14th, 2014 at 7:40 pm
Umm, the Niall section should be changed to Harry Styles, not Harry Stiles! Ah, my sister would be so disappointed to see that misspelling!
on March 14th, 2014 at 9:31 pm
This write-up is a pleasure to read, but just watching spelling of Máiréad – “Máiriéad” with the extra “i” is incorrect.
on March 14th, 2014 at 10:15 pm
Please correct this its Harry STYLES not stiles aaaaaaaaah
on March 15th, 2014 at 10:47 am
I really like Máiréad. It sounds very lyrical and has a sprightly demeanor. I also like Colm as an alternative to Connor.
on March 15th, 2014 at 2:00 pm
One of my teachers is from Ireland and his name is Colm but he pronounces it with only one syllable.
on March 15th, 2014 at 5:15 pm
Best theme feature in a long time! Irish AND musical…I love it!
on March 15th, 2014 at 10:02 pm
Three of my favorite things in one post: One Direction, U2, and Irish Names 🙂
I love Declan, Aoife, and Caoimhe
on March 16th, 2014 at 7:06 am
I work with a girl called Mairead, and she pronounces it My-Raid, I found it so strange at first I still accidentally pronounce it Mah-Raid sometimes.
I absolutely love Aoife but SOs cousin has a daughter called Aoife and they would both have the same surname so it’s a big no no so I suppose I’ll just need to let it go 🙁
on March 17th, 2014 at 2:55 pm
Honestly there are so many lovely Irish names out there!
Happy St. Patrick’s day!!
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