400+ Irish Last Names
Irish last names are common through the Western world, with Irish surnames widely used in the US, the UK, and Australia and New Zealand. The top Irish surnames are among the most popular last names in the United States.
The most common Irish last names in the US include exclusively Irish surnames like Murphy and Hughes, along with surnames that count Irish among multiple origins, such as Collins and Hughes:
3. Kelly, along with Kelley
The top Irish last names in Ireland have some crossover with the US, but generally feel more, well, Irish: Murphy, Kelly, Walsh, O'Connor, O'Sullivan, and Byrne are at the top of the list.
Irish last names have also become increasingly popular as first names, eclipsing traditional Irish first names, especially for girls. Irish last names such as Riley, Kennedy, and Finley are more popular baby names in the US today than traditional Irish names such as Bridget and Patrick.
Riley is the top Irish last name used as a first for baby girls in the US today, with Ryan the top Irish surname used as a first name for boys. Along with Riley and Ryan, the other top Irish last names for boys in the US are Connor and Nolan, with the top Irish last names for girls Kennedy and Quinn. Many of these surname names can be considered gender neutral names.
On Nameberry, the top Irish surnames used as first names include Finn, Ronan, Dylan, and Quinn. The list below orders names according to their current popularity on Nameberry.
One fresh factor in Irish last names as first names: Names that start with Mac or O' are now fair game as first names. So if you want to name your baby O'Brien or McNamara, go right ahead. Here's a whole group of rollicking Irish surnames that work for both girls and boys....or you can use one from your own family background.
Meaning:"fair or white"
Description:Finn is a name with enormous energy and charm, that of the greatest hero of Irish mythology, Finn MacCool (aka Fionn mac Cuumhaill), an intrepid warrior with mystical supernatural powers, noted as well for his wisdom and generosity.
Origin:Scottish and Irish
Meaning:"rowan tree; little redhead"
Description:Rowan – a strong surname and nature name (it's a tree with red berries) – is deservedly growing in popularity. Some scholars identify Rowan as originally a girls’ name, related to Rowena and Rhonwen, while others say Rowan's always been used for both genders. Sharon Stone chose the Roan spelling, which also relates to the reddish color, for her son, while Brooke Shields used Rowan for her daughter. Yet another increasingly popular spelling is Rowen.
Description:Ronan is the compelling legendary name of twelve Irish and Scottish saints that is now drawing some deserved attention; this cousin of the ascending Roman and Rowan was chosen by actor Daniel Day-Lewis and his writer-director wife Rebecca Miller in 1998, and more recently by actress Catherine Bell.
Meaning:"little dark one"
Description:Long popular in Ireland and England, Kieran, the name of Ireland's first-born saint and twenty-five other saints, has been building its U.S. fan base thanks to its strong and attractive sound, and its fashionable Irish brogue. While Ciaran is the more authentic Irish spelling, Kieran is more popular this side of the Atlantic.
Meaning:"floodtide, abundance, prosperity"
Description:Jaunty and raffish, Rafferty is one of the most engaging of the Irish surnames, used by Jude Law and Sadie Frost for their son. Fortunately, it doesn't still go by its original form: O'Raighbheartaigh.
Meaning:"son of the red-haired one"
Description:Flynn, a charming Irish surname, is still used only quietly, despite its easygoing, casual cowboy charm, unlike Finn which is a star of this genre. Flynn was the choice of Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr for their baby boy, and is also the middle name -- used as his first -- of a son of Miranda's fellow supermodel Elle Macpherson, of Gary Oldman's son Gulliver and Marley Shelton's daughter West.
Description:Nolan is one of the rising Irish surname names, in the spirit of Conan and Ronan, partially inspired by pitcher Nolan Ryan-- who was named Lynn at birth, after his father. Nolan is a cheerful, friendly traditional Irish surname with the appropriate meaning of "champion," and one of the new attractive boy names starting with N.
Origin:English surname and nature name
Description:One of those simple, straightforward English surnames -- and with a presidential pedigree -- that's easy to translate into a first. It was recently chosen by both Kevin Costner and Jessica Alba for their sons, which can likely be credited for its spike in popularity in the past few years. Surname names and nature names like Hayes, which qualifies on both counts, along with occupational names all make up the new generation of stylish English names for boys that go far beyond Harry and Edward.
Meaning:"descendent of Conn"
Description:Quinn is the Anglicized version of the Irish patronymic surname Ó Cuinn, meaning "descendent of Conn." Conn has two possible derivations—the Old Irish cond, meaning "intellect," or cenn, meaning "chief." One of the most notable Quinn clans was from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland.
Meaning:"son of the sea"
Description:Dylan was derived of the Welsh components dy and llanw, meaning "sea." In Welsh mythology, Dylan was a legendary sea god who prompted all the waters of Britain and Ireland to weep when he died. The name came to prominence via the great Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, whose name Bob Dylan adopted in tribute.
Description:Patrick, long tied to a hyper-Irish image, is enjoying something of a renaissance as a stylish classic, as it has long been considered in England. Along with such choices as Charles and George, Patrick has escaped overuse in recent decades.
Description:Though it has a Scandinavian ring, this is an out-of-the-ordinary Irish family name. The hard 'T' at the beginning prevents it from sounding as feminine as, say, Loren. Torin's Passage was an early video game.
Description:Mara is the evocative ancient root of Mary, appearing in the Book of Ruth, in which Naomi, devastated after the death of her two sons, says "Call me not Naomi, call me Mara." It's one of the girl names starting with M that both fits in and stands out.
Origin:Irish and Scottish
Description:Finley is a Scottish royal name (it belonged to Macbeth's father) riding the wave of Finn names. Chris O'Donnell used it for one of his sons, and Angie Harmon and Jason Sehorn did a gender switch when they named their daughter Finley.
Description:Sloane is a sleek, sophisticated surname name that has gradually morphed over to the girls' side. Sloane is definitely a name that's going to continue to rise. Spelled without the final "e," Sloan joined Sloane in the Top 1000 for the first time in 2011.
Description:Sullivan is a jaunty Celtic three-syllable name, with a real twinkle in its eye. It was immortalized in the 1930s classic film Sullivan's Travels and was chosen for one of Patrick Dempsey's twin boys. Nickname Sully is equally jaunty.
Description:Delaney has been a popular Irish surname name for a couple of decades, projecting buoyant enthusiasm plus a feminine feel.
Description:Ryan’s use as a given name was inspired by the surname Ryan, a variation of the Irish O’Riain meaning "son of Rían." Rían is composed of the Irish-Gaelic elements rí, meaning "king" and an, a diminutive suffix. Ryan is considered a unisex name in the US, where variant spellings Ryann and Ryanne are also valid for girls.
Meaning:"rye clearing; courageous"
Description:Riley originated as both an English and an Irish surname. The former was derived from British place names that got their names from the Old English words for "rye clearing." Irish Riley is a variation of Reilly, a surname taken from the given name Raghailleach.
Meaning:"a small roadway or path"
Description:Lane is a recent hit name, that could be used for either gender, but is much more popular for boys. It's a surname that projects the pleasant picture of narrow, tree-lined country roads.