Unusual Irish Boy Names
Not all of the names we're calling unusual here are unusual in Ireland, of couerse. Boy names such as Darragh and Seanan, virtually unknown in the US, are fairly common in Ireland. But knowing that might make them more appealing.
If you're a unique name lover and and Irish name lover, here's a list that gives you the best of both worlds.
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.
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.
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: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: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: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: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.
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.
Origin:English and Irish from French
Description:Bellamy is a surname name with an admirable meaning and upbeat rhythm, similar to jovial choices like Rafferty, Barnaby and Willoughby.
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.
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.
Origin:Irish version of Malachi, Hebrew
This spelling, which came to the attention of readers of the best-selling Angela's Ashes as the name of author Frank McCourt's father and brother, the latter of whom wrote a bestseller of his own, lends the biblical name a more expansive, almost boisterous image. Malachy is one of the Irish baby names that manages to strike the golden mean between familiarity and distinctiveness.
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:This jaunty Celtic surname -- the most common family name in Ireland -- is totally viable as a first. Although there was a possibility of its being feminized via the old TV sitcom "Murphy Brown," it has never taken off for girls and very much retains its masculine image.
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).
Description:Niall is pronounced nye-al--something like Neil, but this Irish spelling of the name makes it much more current and cool.
Origin:Irish, diminutive of Quillan or Quiller; also English word name
Description:Quill is a unique possibility for the child of writers -- even if they do use computers rather than pens; could also serve as a rhyming tribute to an ancestor named Gil, Phil, or Bill (or Jill).
Description:Following in the footsteps of popular brother Brady, Grady is another lively, ebullient Irish surname name. The O'Gradys (originally O Gradaugh) were an ancient clan that produced an impressive number of bishops.
Perhaps the most remarkable O'Grady descendant is Muhammad Ali, whose mother's maiden name was Grady.
Origin:Irish variation of Edmund
Description:This friendlier Celtic version of Edmund has an upbeat feel and a good chance of competing with Aidan and Damon sometime soon.
Meaning:"white fire or white bull"
Description:Fintan is an ancient Irish saints' name that in legend is also the name of the only person to survive The Flood. Popular in modern Ireland, Fintan is ripe for export to the US where it is rarely used but could make an excellent long form for the stylish Finn.
Description:Tiernan is the slightly edgier and more seductive cousin of Kiernan. This is one Irish surname that is attractive but distinctive; Tierney is another, related, option.
Origin:Irish variation of McKay
Description:One of numerous usable Irish and Scottish surnames starting with Mac and Mc, this is the real McCoy. McCoy Tyner, the well-known jazz pianist, is one of the few to use this very cool name. Bonus: Nickname Mac.
Origin:Irish variation of Latin Columba
Description:Colm is a popular Irish name for boys that could immigrate, especially with its peaceful meaning. Colm Toibin is a contemporary Irish novelist and critic, author of The Master and Brooklyn; Colm Meaney is an Irish actor. Pronunciation is two syllables instead of one, like Colin with an 'm' at the end. Colm is related to Columba, Colom, Colum, Callum, and Malcolm.
Description:Clancy, one of the original crossover Irish surname names, is as energetic and appealing as ever — full of moxie, more distinctive than Casey, and also one of the less obvious of the red-headed names.
Meaning:"born of the yew tree"
Description:Pronounced like Owen, this was the name of several early Irish kings and saints, as well as a celebrated Ulster hero. Often spelled with two 'n's in Scotland, it has been Anglicized as Ewan, Ewen, Euan, Owen, Hugh, or Eugene.
Description:Gulliver is an obscure Gaelic surname known almost solely through its literary Travels until actor Gary Oldman used it for his son, instantly transforming it into a lively option. British actors Damian Lewis, of Homeland, and Helen McCrory also have a son named Gulliver.
Description:Also Anglicized as Dara and also spelled Daire in its native form, Darragh has an undeniably rugged appeal. It's used for both girls and boys in Ireland, but it's very popular in particular for boys.
Description:This lilting Irish saint's name shone in neon lights on Broadway for the classical 1947 musical "Finian's Rainbow," later made into a film starring Fred Astaire as Finian McLonergan, and there was also a character on "General Hospital" named Finian O'Toole. With the growing popularity of Finn and Finlay/Finley--and boys' names ending in 'an'--Finian, which can also be spelled Finnian, seems like a sure-fire winner.
Origin:Irish, Anglicization of Diarmaid
Meaning:"free from envy"
Dermot is an appealing, relatively undiscovered Irish mythological hero's name long popular in the Old Country, and imported into the American consciousness by actor Dermot Mulroney. We see it in the next Celtic wave following Connor and Liam.
Description:The additional syllable makes Lark a masculine surname name.
Description:This name of several early Irish saints makes a nice Logan/Conan alternative.
Meaning:"strong as a wolf"
Description:If there are too many Connors in your neighborhood, this name is equally authentic and much more unusual. Spelled Conal or Conall, it's a prominent name in Irish history, borne by a number of kings and heroes.
Origin:Variation of Aidan, Irish
Description:Egan's likeness to the word eager gives this Irish surname a ready-to-please, effervescent energy, and it would make an appropriate substitute for the overused Aidan.
Description:The name of a historic Irish leader, Gannon has a solid, yet spirited feel. It was one of the fastest-rising names of 2014, but that trend didn't continue. One pop culture influence was the name of Teen Mom 3 son Gannon Dewayne McKee.
Origin:Irish variation of Raymond
Description:We love this partly for purely personal reasons, since it is one of our surnames. We used it as the middle name of a son –and it can make a good first choice too. Redmond – also found as Reamann or Raemonn – is the Irish form of the Germanic name that occurs in modern English as Raymond.
Meaning:"castle, stone fort"
Description:Cashel is one of the many appealing Irish names that have not yet emigrated to the US. Cashel was chosen by actor Daniel Day-Lewis and his writer-director wife Rebecca Miller for their son.
Description:Daire, along with brother names Dara and Darragh, is among the Top 100 boys' names in Ireland today. An ancient name with an inspirational meaning, pronunciation could prove confusing to Americans.
Origin:Scottish and Manx
Description:Also spelled Aulay in Scotland, this is an attractive form of the Scandinavian name Olaf that blends several currently fashionable sounds.
Description:The name of an ancient Irish saint is in the contemporary Irish Top 50. While it's one of the rare Irish names for boys that hasn't immigrated to the U.S., it may follow brothers Aidan and Declan to our shores. The t is not pronounced.
Description:Popular name in Ireland -- it's pronounced ee-mer -- from the legendary wife of Cuchulainn who was supposed to possess the six gifts of womanhood: beauty, voice, speech, wisdom, chastity, and of course, needlework. Is found in the poetry of Yeats.
Description:Devlin is an Irish name that's fresher and even more devilish than Devin.
The earliest written record of this surname occurs in the thirteenth century, when an O'Devlin was appointed Bishop of Kells in 1211.
Description:This name of three ancient saints, one Wayans brother, and an NFL wide receiver makes an energetic choice.
Meaning:"descendent of the champion"
Description:Rooney is one of many bouncy Irish surnames that could make an agreeable first, once tied to Mickey Rooney (who was actually born Joseph Yule) in his young and spunky Andy Hardy period.
Origin:Irish variation of Baird, Scottish
Description:Great Irish middle name choice for Shakespeare lovers.
Origin:Diminutive of Sean or Irish
Description:Seanan and its more-popular variation Senan are connected to the Latin word "senator" and are ancient saints' names, but may also be thought of as diminutives of Sean, the Irish form of John, given that the suffix "an" is an Irish diminutive meaning "little". Virtually unknown in the US, it might appeal as an update for the no-longer-stylish Sean.
Description:Branigan, also spelled Branagan or Brannigan, is an Irish name full of energy and cheer. It was the title of a 1975 John Wayne movie, and Zapp Brannigan is the antihero of the animated sitcom "Futurama." Branigan fans might also want to consider such related Irish names as Brennan and Breccan, Rafferty and Finnegan.
Meaning:"from the mother's side"
Description:The spoiled only son of the richest family in town in a fifties movie.
Meaning:"son of the beige one"
Description:Although Maguire is such a prominent Irish surname —it ranks in the Top 40 in the Emerald Isle —this lively and cheerful family name has rarely been used as a first, unlike more familiar examples like Ryan, Riley and Reagan. The powerful and distinguished Maguire clan was known for their courage, leadership and resilience. The name's many notable associations include the unionizing Pennsylvania coal miners known as the Molly Maguires, actor Tobey Maguire and Dixie Chick Martie Maguire. Other spellings are McGuire and McGwire; two other handsome Irish surnames to consider are Malone and Magee.