Unique Irish Names
Unique Irish names come in two main varieties.
One is Irish names from Ireland's native Irish language, such as Saoirse and Siobhan. These Irish language or Gaelic names tend to be most popular in Ireland itself, though many have emigrated in recent years.
The other brand of unique Irish baby names popular especially in the US are last names used as first names. Irish last names such as Riley and Quinn are technically gender neutral as first names, but they tend to be used more often in the US for girls.
While classic Irish names such as Bridget and Patrick are of course still used in Ireland, the US, and other countries, many parents are more interested today in finding unique, uncommon, rare, and unusual Irish names.
The Irish names here may be more or less unusual and unique depending on where you live. Fiadh and Aoife not going to turn any heads in Dublin, but they'd definitely qualify as unique Irish girl names in the US. And unique Irish boy names from the American point of view, such as Cian or Seanan, are similarly commonplace in Ireland itself.
Here is a large collection of rare, uncommon, unusual, and unique Irish names. To expand your horizons, have a look at our main Unique Names page.
Origin:Scottish form of Columba, Latin
Description:Callum was derived from Latin Columba, a unisex given name meaning "dove." Callum was popular among early Christians because the dove was a symbol of purity, peace and the Holy Spirit. St. Columba was one of the most influential of the early Celtic saints.
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:"war strife or church"
Description:This classic Irish name , which is better known in this country by its Anglicized form Killian, is one of several newer recommended Gaelic choices that have entered the American name pool. Killian now stands at Number 516 in the US, while Cillian is 22 in its Irish homeland.
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:"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:"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.
Description:Both offbeat and upbeat, this evocative traditional Irish name that runs through Celtic mythology is known here via award-winning novelist Cormac McCarthy (born Charles). The author's adopted name is related to Cormac Mac Airt, one of the great legendary high kings of Ireland.
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:Fiadh is the fastest-rising girls' name in Ireland, derived from the ancient root word for "wild". The Anglicized form Fia is one we might see rising in the US as well – to take the place of its popular cousin Mia.
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:A handsome Irish name for boys, very popular in that country, but in the US this traditional spelling might cause pronunciation problems. Still, whether Cian or Kian, it's simple and straightforward enough for the initiated. Cian is rising in the British popularity charts. This was the name of several legendary figures, including Cian, son of the god of medicine. His own son was Lugh, the sun god and father of the Ulster warrior Cuchulain and Cian is also the name of the son-in-law of the high king Brian Boru. So very well connected.
Description:Lorcan is a name rich in Irish history as belonging to several kings, including the grandfather of the most famous high king of Ireland, Brian Boru. Lorcan O'Toole, known in English as Laurence O'Toole, is the patron saint of Dublin, so it's not too surprising that Irish-born actor Peter O'Toole named his son Lorcan.
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: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: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:The name of several ancient kings and princes of Ireland, Tadhg became so common at one point that it was used to represent a kind of Irish Gaelic everyman, or man in the street, as Paddy and Mick would later. Tadhg has seen a major resurgence in recent years and is also now ranked in England. It is sometimes used as the Irish equivalent of Timothy and is also anglicized as Teague and Thaddeus. Tadleigh and Thad are pet forms.
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: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 variation of James
Description:Parents who have tired of Sean are now contemplating Seamus, the Irish form of James, which has a lot more substance and verve.
Origin:Irish variation of Edmund
Description:Eamon is one of the traditional Irish names that has not yet emigrated to the US. This Irish name pronounced ay-mon was popularized by early president of the independent republic Eamon de Valera (birth name George), who was born in the United States to an Irish mother and a Cuban father. Eamon definitely has possibilities as a successor to the epidemically popular Aidan/Aiden.