Irish Baby Names Celebrate St. Patrick's Day
Happy St Patrick’s Day! Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit! Today we’re celebrating Irish baby names of all kinds, from well-loved favorites to those that deserve more love beyond the Emerald Isle.
St Patrick’s Day Names
The man of the moment is Patrick — or in Irish, Pádraig. It comes from the Latin Patricius, meaning “noble”, and while it’s debatable whether it was the saint’s birth name, it’s the only name he used in his writings that survive.
In the US, Patrick has gently drifted down to Number 206, making it a familiar classic but not one you’re likely to see on kids all the time. Likewise it’s not as mega-popular as it once was in Ireland, but is still going fairly strong at number 22 on the list of top Irish names (and Number 37 in Northern Ireland).
Today, many young Patricks go by their full name, but it’s got nicknames for those who want them. Pat is a little dated, but others include Paddy, Patch, and Ricky. If you’re looking for a fresh twist to honor a special Patrick, there’s inspiration in the surnames that derive from the name, including Patton, Pates, Paterson, and Fitzpatrick.
International variants include Patrik (in Scandinavia and Central/Eastern Europe), Patryk in Polish, Patrice in French, Patricio in Spanish and Portuguese, Patrizio in Italian, and the fun Māori Patariki. The usual feminine form is Patricia.
Other names with links to St Patrick’s Day on March 17 include Clover — for the shamrock symbol — and other names with lucky meanings, such as Felicity, Maddox, Penny or Charm. Names meaning green match the dominant color of the day, and Harper recalls Ireland’s national instrument. Erin, which comes from a poetic name for Ireland, was a staple name of the 1970s, 80s and 90s, and Ireland itself has also been used in recent years.
Popular Irish Names in the US
Each generation has their own top Irish names. Fifty years ago it was Kevin, Sean and Shannon; today Liam, Aiden and Nora are among the most popular; and we can already see fresh names rising to take their place, like Finn and Maeve. Many of the top Irish names match trends that parent love, such as surnames and the “two syllables ending in N” pattern.
These are the Irish names among the 200 Top US Baby Names.
Top Baby Names in Ireland
The top Irish names in Ireland have a lot in common with Britain and the English-speaking world: Grace and Jack, and the Top 5 includes Emily, Sophie, Ava, James, Noah, Daniel… but also Fiadh at Number 2 and Conor at Number 5.
In Northern Ireland it’s a similar story: Grace and James and Grace are in the top spots, followed by typical British choices like Amelia and Harry, but scroll past the Top 10 and you’ll find Aoife at Number 11, and Cillian at 13.
These are all the Irish names in the Top 100 in Northern Ireland and/or the Republic. Which ones do you think deserve more love elsewhere?
Cool Irish Baby Names
So, what if you’re looking for cool Irish baby names that are somewhere between Aiden and Aoibhín? In other words, names that are attractive, meaningful and not overused, but that fly easily through the spelling/pronunciation radar.
Good news! There are plenty of possibilities, from ancient legendary names like Angus and Emer, to cool surnames-as-firstnames, like Lennon and Callahan. Here’s a selection, ranging from Top 500 to scandalously underused. There’s even more inspiration in our full list of Irish names.