Irish Baby Names: Last Names First
The current popularity lists are full of Irish names that are also surname names—Ryan, Riley, Brody, Brady, Brennan, Connor, Keegan, and Quinn, to name just a few—and have been for quite some time. For the most part, they have been two- and occasionally one-syllable names; we’d like to suggest that the next wave will consist of the bouncier, even friendlier and more genial names with three syllables, and here are some of the best candidates.
Most of this brand of Irish baby names seem more suited to boys—but let’s not forget what happened to Cassidy and Delaney in the 1990s, when they tinted decidedly pink.
Branigan—a possible update for Brandon; the name means the descendant of the son of the raven, the latter being a nickname for the first chief of the clan. Spelled Brannigan, it was a 1975 John Wayne movie, and Zapp Brannigan is the antihero of the satirical animated sitcom Futurama
Callahan –means “bright-headed”; also spelled Callaghan, a name that harkens back to the ancient King of Munster
Connolly—could make a livelier substitute for Connor, means “fierce as a hound”; also spelled Connelly, as in detection fiction writer Michael
Cullinan—not as familiar as some of the others but has a long and distinguished Irish history—and, for a bit of trivia, the Cullinan diamond was the largest rough diamond ever found (3,000+ carats) when discovered in 1905.
Donegan—a possible namesake for an ancestral Donald–for those who find Donovan too Mellow-Yellow sixties folksie
Finnigan –an energetic extension of Finn, used by Will & Grace star Eric McCormack for his son; also spelled Finnegan
Fitzwilliam—the Christian name of the dashing Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice; Fitzpatrick is another possibility, and more authentically Irish
Flanagan– an elaboration of Flann, cousin of Flynn and Finn and one of the colorful red-headed names
Garrity—an alternative to Garrett; this one could conceivably work for a girl, à la Amity, Clarity and Charity.
Gulliver—fairly obscure Gaelic surname known primarily through its literary Travels until actor Gary Oldman used it for his son, instantly transforming it into a lively first name option, one taken up a decade later by Damian Lewis
Halloran—a non-Henry or Harold path to Hal. Halloran derives from a word meaning pirate, or stranger from overseas
Kennelly—modernizes and energizes Kenneth, and also the more recent Kennedy. Can also be spelled Kenneally.
Lanigan means “little blackbird”; also appealing are Lonegan and Landrigan
MacCormac—John McCormack was an illustrious opera singer; some other Mac (son of) options: MacDermot, MacDonnell
Morrissey—a possible namesake name for an ancestral Morris; associated with the single-named singer
Rafferty—this raffishly upbeat name means “rich” or “property wielder” in Gaelic and was used for their son by Sadie Frost and Jude Law
Sheridan –the surname of a famous British playwright and heroic Civil War general; possible downside is the dated nickname Sherry, as heard in the classic play and movie The Man Who Came to Dinner
Sullivan—used by Patrick Dempsey for one of his twin boys, means “descendant of the black-eyed one” and is the third most popular surname in Ireland. It’s been on the US boys’ popularity list since 2002, now at Number 652