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Honor the Emerald Isle With These Irish Baby Names

As a country of so many Irish descendants, we’ve practically come to think of the most popular Irish baby names as American ones. We’ve got generations of Patricks, Seans, Mauras, and Colleens proudly showing off their Irish heritage (or simply their parents’ admiration of Irish names), and they’re great, of course. But the Emerald Isle has generated so many more baby names ripe for the choosing by parents-to-be, and we want to make sure you’re not missing out on them.

Like so much of Europe, Ireland was invaded several times — by Vikings, Normans, English, and more — and influenced by other cultures that didn’t wage war with them. This means that in addition to the Gaelic and Celtic names, the Irish have long used names of Latin, Hebrew, Greek, and other European origins, adding their own special accents to each.

Speaking of accents, if you’re not fluent in Gaelic or very familiar with Irish pronunciations, chances are you don’t know how to pronounce a lot of these names. We’ve been well-schooled on Saoirse (SEER-shuh), but how do you say Aiofe? If you’re moved to choose these name — they can be so pretty and poetic! — you can decide whether to go with the traditional spelling and give your kid the character-building task of teaching people how to say their name, or you can take the easy way out and Americanize the spelling. We think these names are lovely either way, but we’ve provided some pronunciation guides, just in case.

Irish girls names

Ailey: Light
Aine(AWN-ya) Joy
Aislinn: (ASH-lynn) Dream
Aoife: (EE-fa) Beauty
Brigid: (Breed) Strength
Cadhla: (KY-la) Beautiful and graceful
Ciara: (KEE-ra) Dark
Catriona: (ka-TREE-na) Pure, clean
Caoimhe: (KWEE-va/KEE-va) Lovely and charming
Eavan/Aoibheann: (EE-van) Radiant beauty
Eimar: (EE-mer) Swift
Eithne: (EN-ya) Graceful
Farran: The land
Fiadh: (FEE-a) Wild
Grainne: (GRAWN-ya) Charming
Keira: Dark-haired
Laoise: (LEE-sha) Light
Maeve: Joy
Maille: (MAH-lee) Pearl
Niamh: (neeve) Bright, radiant
Oona: One
Orla/Orlaith: Golden
Roisin: (ro-SHEEN) Little rose
Saoirse: (SEER-shuh) Liberty
Siobhan: (she-VAHN) Kind

Irish boys names

Ailin: Handsome
Alsandair: Defender of man
Berkley: The birch tree meadow
Binean: Good or blessed
Braeden: Broad hillside
Caolan: (KEE-lin) Slender
Calin: Powerful warrior
Cian: (KEE-en) Ancient
Declan: Man of prayer
Eoin: (OH-wen) Young
Finnegan: Fair
Keir: Dark
Logan: From the hollow
Lorcan: Little fierce one
Malachy: Servant
Nolan: Renowned
Oisin: (oh-SHEEN) Little deer
Oran: White, light, or pale
Phelan: Little wolf
Ronan: Little seal
Ryan: Little king
Taveon: Hillside or twin
Tadhg: (tige) Poet
Veren: Hero

Irish unisex names

Adan: Little fire
Arlan/Arlyn: An oath
Ceallach: (CAL-luk) Warrior
Darragh: (DAH-ra) Fruitful or oak tree
Delancy: From the elder tree grove
Devin: Poet
Kerry: Dark
Lennon: Dear one
Odrhan: (Oren) Pale
Niall: Cloud
Quinn: Descendent of the chief, wise
Regan: Nobility
Rowan: Type of tree
Ruairi/Rory: Red
Shanley: Hero/hero’s child
Shea: Majestic
Tiernan: Regal
Toryn: Chief

This article originally appeared in March 2020.

If you want to go with a different influence, here are some cool (and weird) celebrity kids’ names we love
celebrity baby names

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