Who knew naming a baby could be so stressful? So for months, you and your partner have tried coming up with the perfect name for your firstborn. And whether you know, it’s going to be a boy or if you’re making lists for both genders, it’s certainly more than a little daunting.
Just imagine, what if you don’t agree? Or what if you prefer unisex names but are worried that they are too unique? Then again, maybe you prefer popular names instead. Still, trendy names can quickly become too familiar. In fact, do you really want your little Noah to share his name with a couple of classmates when he gets older?
Irish names add mystique
Well fret not, we’re here to help. You see, Irish names for boys never go out of style, because they’re derived from myths and legends. And they’re classic while adding a bit of mystique to their owner. So, I guess what I’m saying is, you can’t really go wrong here.
To help you out of your predicament, we have listed fifteen of the most captivating Irish baby names, along with their meanings. In short, whether you’re looking for a unique name, firm name, or a nature moniker, there is plenty of choice for you both to mull over.
You’ll never go wrong with a classic name
To keep it authentic, we have taken baby names from the top 100 Irish baby name list as published by the Irish Central Statistics Office (CSO). Apart from (Anglicised) Sean, all names are Gaelic, and most are derived from Irish myths and legends.
These monikers experienced a rise in popularity during the boom time in Ireland (mid-1990s & early noughties). Still, seeing they’re ancient, they will never go out of style.
Meaning: Little fiery one
About: Aodh, was a Celtic God, a twin of Fionnuala and son of Lir. Lir has four children- all legendary in Celtic mythology. (You’ll find them commemorated on Celtic wedding rings.) Lir’s second wife, Aoife, turned Aodh into a swan. Interestingly, Aodh was also the name of a Celtic sun god.
Female version: Eithne has the same meaning, and Aidan has been given to girls more recently too.
Other versions: Aiden, Adan
Moving from to 48 from 56, this name has made its way in the Irish baby name top 100 of 2019 (the list of 2020 is not yet available), unlike the UK top 100, where it’s nowhere to be found. Its popular American cousin, Aiden, however, occupies a high number 19 in the US baby names top 100.
Meaning: Derived from Gaelic “cath” (battle) and “val” (rule), Cathal was an Irish saint in the 7th century, meaning “strong in battle.”
About: Cathal was the patron saint of The Italian Army during the Second World War. So if you plan on raising your son to be strong and mighty, this warrior name would be an excellent way to go.
Female version: Séarlait, Charlotte
Currently number 61 on the Irish baby name list of 2019, this name has been climbing steadily. But seeing it hasn’t even registered in the US top 1000 over the last twenty years. You can rest assured your Cathal won’t be bumping into too many namesakes if you live in the States.
3. Seán or Sean
Meaning: This name is an Irish form of John, meaning “God’s gracious gift.”
About: Shane is a prevalent variant of the name in Northern Ireland in memory of Shane O’Neill. The forces of the latter won notable victories over the armies of Queen Elizabeth I in the sixteenth century.
Female version: Shawna
This is the second year in which the Irish CSO recognized the fada in their data. And look, Seán has moved to the 23rd position. Without fada, this name peaked at no 51 in the year 2000 in the US. Funnily enough, it doesn’t even make a dent in the UK top 100.
Meaning: little deer- derived from Irish os “deer”-combined with the suffix “een” which means “small” or “little.”
About: Irish mythology told of the day Oisin’s father was out hunting and spotted his son. He was so happy to meet him in the woods that he christened him Oisin. Later, as a young adult, he followed the beautiful Niamh into Tir-na-nOg, a mystical paradise of joy and everlasting youth. There, he spent 300 happy years before returning to Ireland where he turned into a very old man instantly.
Female version: Roisin
Slowly gaining in popularity (number 14 in Ireland), Oisin has become a staple in every schoolyard in Ireland. Just as Cathal and Daragh, Oisin is uniquely Irish-you will find it in neither the UK nor the US charts.
Meaning: little church
Probably from Gaelic ceall “church” in combination with a small suffix
About: Named after a 7th-century Irish saint who went to Germany on a missionary trip, this name is found in both Ireland and Germany (as the surname Killian). While on his mission, Killian brought with him 12 apostles from County Kerry. After he died in Würzburg in 689, he became the city’s patron saint.
Other versions: Cillian, Ceallach, Kilian, Killeen
Though unknown in both the US and the UK, you will spot a Cillian on any given Gaelic Football pitch in Ireland. At number 17 in the Irish top 100, it looks like the name is there to stay.
Pronounce: Tie+g; as in “tiger” without “er”
Meaning: Gaelic for poet or philosopher
About: A Celtic legend describes how, at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014 Tadhg Mór (“Big Tadhg”), O’Kelly fought the Vikings “like a wolf dog” before he died. When he fell to his death, a mysterious and ferocious animal came from the ocean to protect his dead body.
And when his kinsmen recovered their chieftain’s corpse, they discovered “a most extraordinary creature; it had the head of a fox, the chest of an elephant, the mane of a horse, the forelegs of an eagle, the body and hind legs of a hound, and the tail of a lion.”
While you won’t come across many boys bearing this name in the UK nor US, Tadgh’s popularity as a boys’ name has moved don to the 101st position in its home country.
Pronounce: Con +r
Meaning: lover of hounds or lover of wolves
About: most likely named after Conchobhar/Conchubhar MacNessa-the
King of Ulster.
In this Irish legend, Conchobhar is the son of Nessa and the stepson of Ferhus Mac Róich. As the tale goes, canny Nessa agreed to marry Fergus, but only if his stepson could be king for a year.
You see, under Medieval Irish law, inheritance only passed through the male line, ensuring that only those with a king as a male line-ancestor were eligible for kingship.
So when Conchobhar entered the throne, Nessa advised him every step of the way, enabling him to rule justly and honestly. And when his tenure was up, he was so popular with his subjects; they agreed he must stay.
Other versions: Connor, Conner and sometimes Konnor
Female version: As it goes, parents have, on occasion, given this name to their daughters
Forever classed as an evergreen in Ireland: popular at number 4, Conor is found in all walks of Irish life. Its US cousin, Connor, however, is hovering around the 50 mark.