36 fashionable Irish baby names taking the world by storm

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Kayleigh Dray
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Names are incredibly important, as they can (apparently) tell you a great deal about a person. For instance, they can supposedly let us know if there’s Viking blood coursing through their veins, whether or not they have a successful career ahead of them and whether they are treading a path to future happiness.

More important than all of that, though, is the fact that names help each and every one of us to forge our identities.

It’s a big thing, to be able to step out into the world and introduce ourselves as Kayleigh, or Amy, or Sarah, or whoever we want to be. To scribble signatures, to own property, to toot our own metaphorical trumpets. To make our marks on the world.

So when it comes to choosing a name for somebody special – be it a new moniker for ourselves, a newborn baby, a pet or a boat (hey there, Boaty McBoatFace) – it’s unsurprising that people spend a lot of time thinking and deliberating over it.

You want something strong, of course, and personable. Something with a great meaning behind it, that feels empowering, and bold, and brilliant. Or just something that simply sounds right when you say it.

Most of all, though, you probably want a name that stands out: after all, this is the little flag you’ll be gifting someone to wave over the head for the rest of their lives.

However, with so many striving for uniqueness, things can get a little more complicated; how can we find a stand-out name for our son or daughter (or cat, dog, fish, lizard, snake or budgie) when everyone else wants the same?

By looking further afield for inspiration, that’s how.

Say... to Ireland?

There’s something endlessly fascinating about Ireland: we’re captivated by those beautiful sloping hills, green silken lands, slow, fat, rolling clouds, dark forests and treacherous seas. We get lost in faery lore. We’re inspired by ancient high kings and warrior queens, by revolutionaries striving for change and by writers transforming the face of literature. We’re desperate to become part of that famous Irish scene, to drink in Dublin, to fall in love in Galway and to tread the same paths as Molly Malone.

Even the lilting accents of the Irish officially send shivers down the spines of almost everyone (it’s been voted ‘sexiest accent in the world’ time and time again).

All in all, it seems as if Ireland is truly the perfect place to source baby name inspiration from.

We’ve taken a look at the most popular baby names in Ireland – and pulled out all of those which are traditionally Irish names, too – to bring you a list of monikers fresh from the Emerald Isle.

You can find the full list – including all of the name meanings – below:

The most popular Irish baby girl names

1) Aoife
Pronounced: Ee-fa
Derived from the Gaelic word “aoibh”, this quintessentially Irish name means “beauty” or “radiance”.

2) Ava
Ava has many interpretations, but the most popular ascribed meanings are “bird”, “life”, and “living one”.

3) Caoimhe
Pronounced: Keeva (in Northern Ireland) or Kweeva (in the Republic of Ireland).
The Irish girl’s name Caoimhe has been listed among a hot seven baby names which are blowing up online and set to be big in 2017, according to an “expert source for baby names” the Baby Name Wizard. It means “beautiful, gentle, kind”.

4) Clodagh
Pronounced: Clo-dah
This name is taken from the river Clody, which runs through County Tipperary and County Wexford. But, like most Irish rivers, this body of water is named for a local female deity – which means that Clodagh is imbued with divine powers.

5) Darragh
Pronounced: Da-rah
A unisex name, this Irish name is rooted in nature – it means, quite literally, “oak tree”.

6) Éabha
Pronounced: Ay-va
The Irish form of Eve, this name means, quite simply, “life”.

7) Erin
An old Irish name, this moniker means “from the island to the west”.

8) Evie
Full of energy, this name (famously bestowed upon Rachel Weisz’s badass librarian in The Mummy) again means “life”.

9) Fiadh
Pronounced: Fee-a
Easily one of the fastest-rising names in Ireland, tis name has been derived from the ancient root word for “wild”.

10) Freya
Similarly popular in Nordic countries, this name means “noble woman”.

11) Kaitlyn
Whether you spell it Kaitlyn, Caitlyn, Kaitlin or Catelyn (we see you, Game of Thrones fans), this Irish name continues to be popular – especially in Canada. It means “pure”, if you’re wondering.

12) Leah
Serene and gentle, this biblical name means “weary”.

13) Maeve
Pronounced: Mayv
This legendary moniker belongs to not one, but two famous queens from Irish mythology: the Queen of Connacht, and the queen of the mother-f**king fairies (or the ‘wee people’, to call them by their proper name). It means “she who intoxicates”, which is just marvellous.

14) Matilda
As in, yes, everyone’s favourite Roald Dahl heroine. This vintage name means “battle-mighty” and is becoming increasingly popular in Ireland.

15) Niamh
Pronounced: Neev
An ancient Irish name (belonging to a goddess, no less) Niamh means “bright”.

16) Orla
The very same name of Irish high king Brian Boru’s sister, daughter, and niece, it should come as no surprise to learn that Orla means “golden princess”.

17) Róisín
Pronounced: Ro-sheen
The heroic Roisin Dubh is often referred to as the personification of Ireland itself, making this a very popular name for baby girls in the Emerald Isle. It means “little rose”.

18) Saoirse
Pronounced: Seer-sha
Back in the 1920s, this name was used as a revolutionary cry for freedom. No wonder it means “liberty”, eh?

The most popular Irish baby boy names

1) Beckett
As in, yes, Irish playwright Samuel Beckett. This name has a seriously sweet meaning in “bee cottage”.

2) Colm
The Irish form of Callum, this name means “dove”.

3) Conor
This Irish name never strays far from the top 100 baby names list. It means “lover of hounds”.

4) Cormac
One of the great Irish high kings of legend, Cormac means “charioteer”.

5) Darragh
Pronounced: Da-rah
A unisex name, this Irish name is rooted in nature – it means, quite literally, “oak tree”.

6) Donnacha
Pronounced: Done-acka
Incredibly, incredibly popular in Ireland (but little known elsewhere) this is another name lifted from ancient Irish royalty. It means “brown-haired warrior”.

7) Dylan
Legend has it that, when this “son of the sea” (or god of the ocean) passed away thousands of years ago, all the waters of Britain and Ireland were overcome by grief and wept for him.

8) Eoin
Pronounced: Oh-wen
The Irish version of John, this means “God is gracious”.

9) Felim
Pronounced: Fe-lim
And it means “good forever”, which is pretty lovely.

10) Fionn
This Irish name means “small blonde soldier” – and the anglicised version, Finn, is also incredibly popular.

11) Liam
The Irish short form of William, this name can be interpreted as meaning “resolute protection”.

12) Logan
This may be a Scottish name, but it’s proving to be incredibly popular in Ireland – suggesting they’re all Wolverine fans, maybe. It means “small hollow”.

13) Nolan
An Anglicisation of the Irish surname Ó Nualláin from “nuall,” this name means “nobleman”.

14) Odhran
Pronounced: O-rawn
Formerly an ancient Irish saint, this is now one of the country’s most popular boy names – and so it’s all over the playgrounds. It means, if you’re wondering, “little pale green one”.

15) Oisín
Pronounced: Osh-een
This was the eighth most popular boys name of 2016 – and it means “little deer”.

16) Patrick
This is one of the most quintessentially Irish names around – and it means “noble patrician”, which is pretty ace.

17) Rían
The most authentic spelling of ‘Ryan’, this Irish name can be translated as “little king”.

18) Ronan
As in Keating. This name means “little seal”, making it another cute Irish animal name to fall in love with.

It’s safe to say that it’s an eclectic mix.

Of course, if you’d prefer to select a badass namesake for your baby or pet, we suggest browsing through our list of baby names inspired by feminist icons.

From Virginia [Woolf] to Benedict [Cumberbatch], vintage nicknames to modern monikers, there is a vast plethora of intriguing names which can be adapted to suit any gender.

Images: iStock


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.