Unique Irish Girl Names
Unique Irish girl names are part of a new wave of Irish names that sound fresh and intriguing. Some of these beautiful and rare Irish names for girls, such as Aoife, Niamh, and Fiadh, have been popular names in Ireland for years, and are just starting to catch on in England and the US too.
Many of the unique Irish girl names popular in the US are gender-neutral surname names, such as Riley, Kennedy, and Quinn. These new names are taking over for more familiar traditional Irish female names like Kathleen and Eileen.
Along with Aoife and Fiadh, Irish girl names rare in the US but common in Ireland include Caoimhe, Róisín, Ciara, Clodagh, Éabha, Sadhbh, Aoibhín, and Áine. Formerly obscure Irish names, such as Saoirse and Bellamy, are now rising in the US, and many of these choices could have similar trajectories.
Here are some of our favorite unique, rare, and unusual Irish names for girls.
Meaning:"she who intoxicates"
Description:Maeve appears in Irish mythology in two forms, one as the powerful Queen of Connacht, the other as the queen of the fairies. Maeve of Connacht was a warrior queen, famous for starting a war in attempt to steal her ex-husband’s stud bull. Other spellings are Meabh, Medb and Meadhbh, which are connected to mead, a honey-based wine that was produced in many ancient cultures.
Origin:Irish, diminutive of Honora, or Greek
Description:Nora has two separate origin stories, as a derivative of both Honora and Eleanor. The Irish and Anglo-Norman version derives from Honora, based on the Latin word honor. The Hungarians spawned Nora as a short form of Eleonora, a variation of Eleanor.
Description:Saoirse originated as a baby name in 1920s Ireland as an applied use of saoirse, the Gaelic word for "freedom." The name was first adopted during the Irish War of Independence, when the Irish Republican Army fought the British Army for the liberation of Ireland from British rule. In modern times, Saoirse, as well as a host of other Gaelic names, are being revived in Ireland, the UK, and the US.
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.
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.
Meaning:"leaping water, lady of abundance"
Description:As memories of the outragrous actress Talullah Bankhead have faded, this hauntingly euphonious Choctaw name has re-entered the public domain. A modern hipster favorite, it's been chosen for their daughters by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Patrick Dempsey, Damian Dash, Rachel Roy and Sara Rue, trail-blazed by Demi Moore and Bruce Willis for their now grown daughter. (Trivia tidbit: Bankhead's namesake was her paternal grandmother who, in turn, was named after the Georgia town of Tallulah Falls.)
Origin:Scottish and Irish
Meaning:"rowan tree; little redhead"
Description:Rowan is the name of a tree with red berries that's commonly found in Scotland (and said to ward off witches). Some scholars say this name has been used for girls as well as boys since the Middle Ages, though no Rowans are found outside literature until modern times. It's also a genial Irish surname choice, especially for a redhead – girl or boy.
Description:Aoife, pronounced EE-fa, is derived from the Irish word aoibh, meaning "beauty." Aoife was borne by several different heroines of ancient Irish legend. In one tale, she was the fiercest woman warrior in the world and enemy of her twin sister, Scathach.
Description:Caoimhe, pronounced (more properly) kwee-va or kee-va, is a pretty and distinctive Gaelic name but one that could well lead to no end of confusion outside the Irish community. Even in its native habitat, it is sometimes spelled Keeva.
Description:Orla is an Irish name closely associated with the high king Brian Boru, as it was the name of his sister, daughter and niece. It was very popular in the Middle Ages – the fourth most popular name in twelfth century Ireland – and has become popular again in Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales today. In Irish, the name is commonly spelled Orlaith or Orlagh.
Description:A growing number of high-profile (and other) parents are choosing to honor their musical idols, such as Hendrix, Presley, Jagger, and now Lennon, an Irish name for girls as well as boys with a wonderful meaning on many levels. Lennon first came to notice when Liam Gallagher and Patsy Kensit used it for their son in 1999, and singer-musician Adam Pascal followed their lead two years later.
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.
Description:Rory is a buoyant, spirited name for a redhead with Celtic roots. The name Rory is getting more popular overall, but for the past few years has been trending decidedly toward the boys' side -- however, it's been rising to new heights for girls in recent years.
Origin:Irish and Scottish
Meaning:"little dark one"
Description:Kiera entered the American popularity list in 1988, though it lags behind the alternate spelling Keira, largely due to the fame of actress Keira Knightley.
Description:Niamh, derived from the Old Irish Niam, is an ancient Irish name that was originally a term for a goddess. In Irish myth, one who bore it was Niamh of the Golden Hair, daughter of the sea god, who falls in love with Finn's son Oisin and takes him to the Land of Promise, where they stayed for three hundred years. Niamh can be Anglicized as Neve, Nieve, or Neave.
Description:This phonetic Anglicization of the Irish name Eithne was made familiar by the single-named Irish singer and composer. St. Eithne was the daughter of a king and an early Irish convert to Christianity.
Origin:Irish or Portuguese or Italian
Meaning:"wild or weaver"
Description:Fia may be most notable at this moment as the Anglicized version of the Irish Fiadh, one of the fastest-rising names in the Republic of Ireland. The meaning of Fia or Fiadh is sometimes given as "deer" but that's in the sense of a wild deer, as the name relates to the ancient word for wild.
Origin:Irish or French
Meaning:"dark one, or from Arcy, or from the fortress"
Description:Delicate ballerina name with grace, charm, and heft courtesy of Jane Austen's Mr.
Origin:Irish, variation of Una
Description:Oona is a name made famous by Eugene O'Neill's daughter, who became Charlie Chaplin's wife. One of the original Oona's granddaughters was named after her, and is now an actress famous in her own right for playing Talisa of Volantis in HBO's "Game of Thrones." The double-o beginning gives their name a lot of oomph.