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Popular Irish Baby Names

Popular Irish Baby Names
The top Irish baby names are very different in the US and in Ireland, with selections from each country rarely heard in the other. Choices like Liam, Finn, and Conor overlap, but in general many of the Irish-rooted names common in Ireland are like Caoimhe and Oisín, that are unintuitive to Americans. The exception is Saoirse, which is rising in the US thanks to actress Saoirse Ronan.

Along with Liam and Saoirse, other Irish baby names in the US Top 1000 include Declan, Finn, Kennedy, Nolan, Nora, Quinn, Riley, and Ryan. In Ireland, popular Irish names include Aoife, Cillian, Fiadh, and Tadhg.

Many of the Irish names that were common for American babies generations ago are fashionable choices in Ireland and other European countries. Erin and Molly, Kevin and Sean rank much higher in countries such as Ireland, Scotland, England, and Sweden than they do in the US.

For more details on which Irish names are popular where, go to our popular names page. These are the most popular Irish names for boys and girls in both countries, and among Nameberry visitors. You can also check out our curated lists of our favorite Irish baby names for boys and girls.

FinnHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • 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.

RowanHeart

  • 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.

NoraHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish, diminutive of Honora, or Greek
  • Meaning:

    "light"
  • 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.

RonanHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "little seal"
  • 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.

RoryHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "red king"
  • Description:

    This spirited Gaelic classic, which became popular in Ireland via the illustrious twelfth century king Rory O'Connor, makes a highly energetic choice, now used for either sex. Rory's gender split is still trending boyward; it's one of the coolest boys' names starting with R.

LiamHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish short form of William
  • Meaning:

    "resolute protection"
  • Description:

    Liam originated as a nickname for Uilliam, the Irish variation of William. William is an English name from Germanic roots that was brought to Ireland when the British fled England following the Norman Conquest. The Irish began using English names, including William, which led to the development of Uilliam and its short form, Liam.

QuinnHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • 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.

SloaneHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "raider"
  • 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.

SaoirseHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "liberty"
  • 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.

DeclanHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish, meaning unknown, possible "man of prayer"
  • Meaning:

    "man of prayer"
  • Description:

    Declan is the Anglicized form of the Irish name Deaglán. St. Declan was one of the first missionaries to bring Christianity to Ireland, preceding St. Patrick. Originally from Wales, he founded the monastery of Ardmore in Ireland.

RyanHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "little king"
  • 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 , 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.

MollyHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Mary, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "bitter"
  • Description:

    Molly originated as a diminutive of Mary, spawning from medieval variations Malle and Molle. Molly has been used as a stand-alone pet form of Mary since the Middle Ages, and has been consistently popular as an independent name in the U.S. over the past several decades.

NolanHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "champion"
  • 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.

AoifeHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish Gaelic
  • Meaning:

    "beautiful, radiant"
  • 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.

CillianHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • 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.

NiamhHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish Gaelic
  • Meaning:

    "bright"
  • 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.

RileyHeart

  • Origin:

    English, Irish
  • 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.

CaoimheHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish, Scottish
  • Meaning:

    "beautiful"
  • 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.

CormacHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "charioteer"
  • 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.

PatrickHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "noble, patrician"
  • 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.

AidenHeart

  • Origin:

    Variation of Aidan, Irish
  • Meaning:

    "little and fiery"
  • Description:

    Aiden is a variation of Aidan, the anglicized version of the Irish Aodhán. Aidan/Aodhán was originally a pet form of the Irish name Aodh (pronounced 'ee'), who was the old Celtic god of the sun and fire. St. Aidan was a famous seventh century Irish saint, noted for his kindness and generosity and for spreading Christianity.

OrlaHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "golden princess"
  • 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.

SullivanHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish surname
  • Meaning:

    "black-eyed one"
  • 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.

CianHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "ancient"
  • 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.

LorcanHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "little, fierce"
  • 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.

MeganHeart

  • Origin:

    Welsh diminutive of Margaret
  • Meaning:

    "pearl"
  • Description:

    Megan originally evolved from Meg, which itself derived as a nickname for Margaret. Margaret ultimately comes from the Greek word margarites, meaning "pearl." Megan is no longer a common nickname for Margaret—it is most often used as a full name. Other spellings include Meghan, Meagan, Megyn, and Meaghan.

ErinHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "from the island to the west"
  • Description:

    First-wave Irish name and place name—the poetic name for Ireland—now supplanted by newer alternatives such as Maeve and Delaney.

ColinHeart

  • Origin:

    Diminutive of Nicholas or Irish and Scottish
  • Meaning:

    "pup"
  • Description:

    Thanks to its dashing Anglo-Irish image--due partly to Colins Firth and Farrell-- and its c-initialed two-syllable sound, Colin and its cousin Collin have enjoyed a long run of popularity, reaching as high as Number 84 in 2004.

EilidhHeart

  • Origin:

    Gaelic form of Eleanor
  • Description:

    Long popular in Scotland, this attractive name is strictly-speaking the Gaelic version of Eleanor, but is also often considered part of the Helen family of names. After the Normans introduced it into the British Isles, it was transformed into Aileen or Evelyn. It has rarely been heard in the US, but it is slowly starting to be used here too.

KevinHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "handsome"
  • Description:

    Kevin was derived from the name Caoimhín, which originated from the Irish elements coém, meaning “handsome,” and gein, “birth.” The feminine name Caiomhe, anglicized as Keeva, comes from the same origins. Kevin was first popularized by the seventh century Saint Kevin, who founded a scholastic monastery near Dublin and was rewarded by being made one of that city's patron saints.

KillianHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "church"
  • Description:

    Killian – aka Cillian – is a spirited yet resonant Gaelic name that was borne by several Irish saints and could make a distinctive replacement for the dated Kelly. Possible downsides: an unsavory first syllable and a connection to the trendy brew.

OisinHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "little deer"
  • Description:

    Oisin is one of the most popular Irish baby names in its native land, though largely unknown in the US. The original Oisin was the mythological son of Finn McCool and Sadb, the goddess who was changed into a deer. A legendary war hero and poet, Oisin had a name that is also reminiscent in sound of the ocean. Pronounced correctly, this name has an attractive sheen.

FinleyHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish and Scottish
  • Meaning:

    "fair-haired hero"
  • Description:

    This was a 100 percent boys’ name until celebs Jason Sehorn and Angie Harmon bestowed it on their daughter, recently followed by Lisa Marie Presley, who used it for one of her (female) twins. Finlay is also now among the most popular unisex names.

RileyHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "courageous"
  • Description:

    Riley -- one of the most popular unisex names -- is rising faster now for girls than boys. Still, there are lots of athletes and other notable real-life namesakes for a boy named Riley, as well as fictional ones in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Twilight: Eclipse.

AlanaHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish, feminine variation of Alan
  • Meaning:

    "handsome, cheerful"
  • Description:

    Alana, in all its various spellings, was at one time reserved for daughters of dads named Alan, but is now much more widespread. It came into prominence via model/actress/celeb spouse Alana Hamilton Stewart.

TadhgHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "poet"
  • 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.

TeaganHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish or Welsh
  • Meaning:

    "little poet or fair"
  • Description:

    As Meghan/Megan and Reagan/Regan show signs of wilting, along comes Teagan to take up the slack: definitely one to consider. The vast majority of American babies named Teagan are now girls. A variant spelling is Teaghan.

KeiraHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "little dark one"
  • Description:

    Keira is an attractive girls’ name that's gotten a huge boost from the meteoric rise of Keira Knightley. Original spelling Kiera, which relates more directly to the male Kieran, was the more popular form until the rise of Keira Knightley reversed the order. Both are Anglicized versions of the Irish Ciara.

DarcyHeart

  • 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.

ConnorHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "lover of hounds"
  • Description:

    Connor, the appealing name of an early semi-legendary king of Ulster in Irish mythology, sits firmly in the Top 100 and taken together with its alternate spellings would rank even higher. In its native Ireland the Conor version is one of the highest charting boys’ name.

LennonHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "lover"
  • 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. 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 in two years later. Thanks in part to female singer and actress Lennon Stella, it's now more popular for girls than for boys.

FiaHeart

  • 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.

FiadhHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "wild"
  • 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.

ReaganHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "little king"
  • Description:

    A strong, straightforward Irish unisex surname, with a merry glint in its eye, Reagan has been leaping up the popularity lists, to become one of the top girl names starting with R. Some will inevitably link it to President Ronald, but spell it Regan and it's a Shakespearean name: a daughter of King Lear.

BradyHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "broad meadow or large-chested"
  • Description:

    The Irish name given to Miranda Hobbes's son on the dearly departed Sex and the City is a friendly and energetic choice. You well might want to make your son part of the Brady bunch.

EoinHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish, variation of John
  • Meaning:

    "God is gracious"
  • Description:

    Though Eoin is a Gaelic form of John, its Anglicized pronunciation links it directly to Owen. Eoin is currently a Top 30 name in Ireland. Other variations: Ewan, Ewen, Evan and Eoghan (pronounced as Owen but also translated as Eugene).

AineHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "brightness, splendor"
  • Description:

    More commonly seen here as Anya, this traditional yet unique Irish name belonged to the queen of the Munster fairies and is sprinkled throughout Irish folklore as an early Celtic goddess of summer and prosperity. One of the most popular baby names in Ireland, Aine's spelling and pronunciation might seem simple but could prove confusing in the U.S.

CallanHeart

  • Origin:

    Gaelic
  • Meaning:

    "descendent of Cathalan"
  • Description:

    An Anglicized form of the Irish surname Ó Cathaláin. It's a highly popular name in Scotland.

AislingHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "dream, vision"
  • Description:

    Aisling is currently a very popular Irish name for girls. Pronounced variously as ASH-ling, ASH-lin or ash-LEEN, it was part of the revival of authentic Irish names in the twentieth century, and is now being sparingly used by U.S. parents in place of the dated Ashley--though often spelled phonetically as Ashlyn or Ashlynn.

ShaneHeart

  • Origin:

    Anglicized variation of Sean
  • Meaning:

    "God is gracious"
  • Description:

    Shane ambled into the picture via the 1953 movie, adding a cowboy twist to its Irish essence. Shane is even more popular in Ireland than in the USA or the UK. Singer Siobhan O'Connor and actor Kevin Sorbo have sons named Shane.
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