Meaning: fair- or white-headed
The great myth: ‘The Salmon of Knowledge’ tells of the little boy Fionn mac Cumhaill, who grew up with a sage poet, Finnegas. This elderly man taught Fionn all about composing, poetry, and confided in him the secrets of all the animals, plants, and stars. Curious by nature, Fionn was still hungry for more knowledge, driving his carer demented with all of his questions. As luck would have it, druids had told Finnegas about the Salmon of Knowledge.
The Salmon of knowledge
The fish had devoured magical hazelnuts and had become very wise. Then, one day, Finnegas caught the fish and ordered Fionn to prepare it. He warned him not to taste it while cooking.
When Finnegas returned from fetching firewood, he noticed that Fionn looked different. In fact, he saw the light of wisdom shining in his eyes. After some gentle prodding, he found out that Fionn burned his thumb.
In the hope he could soothe it, he put the thumb in his mouth to suck it. Finnegas ordered him to eat the rest of the fish, turning Fionn into a wise poet and a strong character. He went on to become the leader of the Fianna-a famous band of warriors.
Female version: Fiona
Fionn is an excellent choice. Just imagine, in years to come, you can read this legend together. It’s undoubtedly more niche than Finn and it’s steady at 14 for the last two years in the Irish top 100, yet currently not in the UK, nor the US top 100 names. Overall, If you’re looking for a hipster name, then look no further.
Meaning: same as Fionn (white or fair-headed).
About: Finn is a modernised version of Fionn.
So popular in its home country (number 18 in Ireland), it has been trending in the US thanks to celebrity parents (Christy Turlington and Owen Wilson) shining a spotlight onto this moniker. And when celebrities name their child a specific name (unless it’s whacky), they’re usually ahead of the curve.
The same goes for the name Finn, as it’s now coming in at 8 of the Nameberry most popular baby name list of 2019. It’s currently at number 166 of USA’s top 1000 and 96 in the English top 100. So you’d better believe this name is not going anywhere soon.
Even in the Netherlands, a non-native English-speaking country, Finn shows up in the top 20, making it a truly excellent choice for bilingual boys.
Pronounce: KEE-an or Keen
About: In Irish mythology, Cian was a member of the Tuath De Danann (Tribe of the Gods). He owned a magical cow, Glas Ghoibhneann, who never ran dry.
Indeed, this supernatural quality made her famous and desired by many, prompting Cian to guard her fiercely and bring her everywhere he went.
But then, a pirate king, Balor of the evil eye, was set on stealing Cian’s prized possession. Consequently, he disguised himself as a red-haired boy and tricked Cian into taking her.
Distraught, Cian wound up on the Balor’s island with the help of a female druid. There, he fell in love with Eithne, Balor’s daughter, and fathered Lugh. In time Lugh grew up to be the master of all arts and, in turn, fathered Cuculain- a central character in Irish mythology.
Female version: Cien
Though relatively unknown in the US and UK, Cian is popular in Ireland, occupying the 32nd spot.
11. Rory (Ruairi)
Pronounce: Rore- eee
Meaning: red, king in Irish and fiery in Scottish
About: Ruairí Ó Conchúir (Rory O’Connor) was Ireland’s last High King
before the Normans invade the country during the late 12th century.
Other versions: Ruaidrí, Ruaidhri, Ruairdhri, Rhuairidh,
Female versions: Rory is a popular girl’s name, either as a shorter version of Lorelei (Gilmore Girls) or Aurora.
While an all-time classic name in Ireland, remaining at 71 in the baby name top 100, it has been trending in other countries. Currently at number 10 in Scotland, Rory has moved up by ten places to 31 in the UK. In the US, it climbed to the 368th spot in their top 1000.
Meaning: The word Colm is Gaelic for dove and is derived from the Latin word of Columba. Colm is named after one of three Patron Saints of Ireland, St. Colmcille (the others being St. Brigid and St. Patrick) He was a prince of the O’ Neill clan and a renowned poet and scholar. Entering priesthood at only twenty, he later set up 27 monasteries and 40 churches.
A dispute over a book he copied turned into a war between two rivaling Irish tribes, and he was sentenced to exile by the High King. So he settled on a Scottish Island, Iona, where he founded another monastery.
He was said to be the first person to encounter the Monster of Loch Ness, and he commanded the monster to retreat by signing a cross with his hands. Many local pagans were inspired by this heroic act to convert to Christianity.
You can rest assured your son won’t share his name with any of his school mates, whether he lives in Ireland, the US, UK, or Scotland, as the name doesn’t appear in their top 100, or even top 1000 in the States.
Pronounce: “Lee” + “uhm”
Meaning: protector, strong-willed warrior
About: a short version of the name Uilliam, Liam is also an Irish form of the name William. The name William is derived from two Germanic words, meaning ‘protection’ and ‘desire’.
As a name, Liam stayed within the Irish boundaries until the famine began in 1845 when the potato blight (disease) rendered entire crops useless. Alas, this devastating situation resulted in the starvation of over a million people and people left en masse.
More than two million Irish people managed to escape over the next six years. So with their migration, Irish names were now heard in England, the US, and other countries they fled to. As a boys’ name, Liam was used mainly by the Irish diaspora.
Female version: no official version, but a few parents in the US liked the name so much, they named their daughters Liam.
Thanks to a few celebrities with Irish roots (Liam Neeson & Liam Hemsworth ), the name has exploded in the US, topping the top 100 over the last two years, ranking it higher than its number 11 position in Ireland.
Currently, at 39 in the UK, at 38 in Spain, number 7 in the Netherlands, and with a prince named Liam of Nassau in Luxembourg, we have found another perfect choice for bilingual parents. Liam travels well.
Meaning: Not entirely clear, but some suggest it means ‘little king’ or ‘illustrious’
About: Ryan came from the surname O’Ryan, which is an Anglicized adaptation of the Gaelic surname Ó Riain.
Female version: Ryan can be used as a girls’ name
Going down in the US (at 46, down from 13 in the year 2000), it is still a popular choice in other countries. Going up by 13 places to number 56 in the UK, and climbing to 25 in Ireland, Ryan certainly would make a great first or middle name.
Meaning: It’s hard to verify the Old Irish meaning of Rian, but some sources claim it’s derived from rían, meaning ocean or water. Other sources suggest it’s related to the Old Irish word rí, meaning “king’.
Female version: Rían can be used as a girls name
Still a trendy option, Rían is making its way around the parks and playgrounds of Ireland, coming in at 33 in their top 100. Indeed, Ireland is ahead of the curve, as Rían isn’t anywhere to be found in the US and UK charts.