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Irish Baby Names We Love

Posted: 03/15/2013 5:59 pm

Certain baby names are timeless, and what better way to honour tradition than by considering the Irish baby names that have proven themselves for generations. True, it's only recent that Irish baby names have become "hip," but when the novelty wears off, Irish baby names will still maintain an air of distinction.

Girl's names

1. Michaela: The girl's form of "Michael," it boasts various spellings that still evoke the strong, classic aspects of this perennial favourite. In terms of Irish baby names, either "Michaela" OR "Michael" are perhaps the ones you've heard before.

2. Ailbe (pronounced all-bay): A name that works for either gender, "Ailbe" comes from the old Irish word for "white," as well as the saint who blessed a river with fish, feeding countless residents who lived in County Tipperary.

3. Fiona: "Fair" and "beautiful" are just two of the words that define Fiona, the feminine form of "Fionn." It's not just for Cameron Diaz as Princess Fiona anymore.

4. Oona: The name "Oona" comes from "lamb," or even from the Latin word for "one" which can be translated into "unity." Irish legend sees Oonagh (pronounced the same) dubbed the "Queen Of The Fairies" who was married to Finn Mac Cool.

5. Saorise (pronounced sear-sha): Translated into "freedom" and "liberty," Saorise is an Irish baby name that's yet to see the mainstream in North America. Likely because it came to prevalence in the 1920s, "Soarise" is currently gaining prominence overseas.

Related: Cool Old-Fashioned Baby Names


Boy's names

1. Conor: Simple and classic, if you've been scoping out Irish baby names, you've no doubt already come across this one. Gaelic for "hound lover," its traditional spelling is "Concobhar," so if you want to make a unique impact, you can negotiate the way it looks on paper.

2. Ciaran: Named after two patron saints, "Ciaran" is pronounced as "Keer-an," and also translates into "black." Evidently, it's been around since the fifth century, so you certainly don't have to worry about this Irish baby name going out of style.

3. Ronan: The name of a king (The King of Leinster, to be specific), Ronan also means "little seal" and is of Gaelic origin. As of a few years ago, it was still relatively underground (for a North American baby name), but considering it's maintained centuries of longevity, you can't help but think we'll be seeing more boys named Ronan in the near future.

4. Padraig: You've heard it as "Patrick," but you probably haven't heard that "Padraig" is the national name of Ireland. From the Latin word for "noble," it's the name of kings -- so the perfect Irish baby name if you're hoping to have a "regal" son.

5. Jack: "Jack's" popularity soars by the year, and that's probably because it's a form of "John" -- a hugely popular name since most of us (and our parents and grandparents) can remember. In Hebrew it means "God has favoured" and various forms include Eoin, Seon, Shuan, Shawn and Shane.

Written by Anne Donahue for BabyPost.com

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  • Abner

    Poor biblical <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Abner">Abner</a> got rubified by the dim-witted hayseed comic strip character L’il Abner, which ran in the Sunday papers for 43 years. We think it’s time to polish up the image of the name of the Old Testament commander of Saul’s army. Another noteworthy bearer of the name is Abner Doubleday, a Civil War Union general often mistakenly credited with inventing baseball.

  • Augustine

    There’s <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/August">August</a> and <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Augustus">Augustus</a> and <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Augustine">Augustine</a> -- all viable choices, but Augustine is the one that’s undeservedly completely under the radar. It’s most strongly associated with the illustrious fourth century saint, St. Augustine of Hippo, whose teachings and writings had a tremendous influence on early Christianity philosophy. Augustine’s other Latin name, Aurelius, makes for another interesting possibility.

  • Cormac

    He’s the name of a legendary high king of Ireland (<a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Cormac">Cormac</a> Mac Art), a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist (Cormac McCarthy, born <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Charles">Charles</a>), and a <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Harry">Harry</a> Potter character (Cormac McLaggen) -- so it’s no wonder that Cormac is on track to be part of the new wave of fresh Irish options -- though he hasn’t hit the Top 1000 quite yet.

  • Cornelius

    This ancient Roman family name was well used in turn-of-the-last-century America, ranking as high as Number 142 in the era of railroad magnate <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Cornelius">Cornelius</a> Vanderbilt. Cornelius has been seen as the Minister for Magic in Harry Potter and a professor in Prince Caspian. And if the nickname Corny is a turn-off, you could substitute Neely, as used in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Interesting international form: Kees.

  • Denver

    A more all-year-round Colorado place name possibility than <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Aspen">Aspen</a>, <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Denver">Denver</a> has been unvisited for a while, but with its trendy ‘er’ ending, it now would fit right in with all those popular occupational surname names. The one noted first-named Denver was Denver Pyle of The Dukes of Hazzard; those representing the surname include singer <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/John">John</a> (born Deutschendorf) and <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Bob">Bob</a>, who played Gilligan of Gilligan’s Island.

  • Ephraim

    <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Ephraim">Ephraim</a> is a pleasing but neglected Old Testament name -- he was the founder of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. In the past he was frequently seen in literary classics by Dickens, Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson and others, and on nineteenth century birth certificates as well. His presence as shape-shifter Ephraim Black in the Twilight franchise might inspire some modern baby namers.

  • Ford

    Though most familiar as a surname (President <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Gerald">Gerald</a>, auto-industrialist <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Henry">Henry</a>, actors <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Harrison">Harrison</a> and <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Glenn">Glenn</a>, director John, rocker <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Lita">Lita</a>), <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Ford">Ford</a> also works well as a strong, one-syllable first; <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Owen">Owen</a> Wilson used it as the middle name of his son <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Robert">Robert</a>. In addition to its automotive reference, it can be thought of as a nature name, a ford being a shallow part of a river or stream.

  • Gordon

    It would have seemed logical for stalwart Scottish <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Gordon">Gordon</a> to have shared in some of the popularity of the trendy, unisex <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Jordan">Jordan</a> a few years back, but au contraire -- this once Top 100 name dropped off the list completely several years ago. Perhaps it’s because some of its current bearers have an older image (UK PM Gordon Brown) or a rambunctious one (celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay) … but we’d like to see it come back.

  • Guy

    <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Guy">Guy</a> was a Top 100 name for a quarter of a century, but is nowhere to be seen today. It's had a wildly divergent group of well-known bearers, from French writer Guy (pronounced gee) de Maupassant to British political figure Fawkes to bandleader Lombardo (born Gaetano) to 50’s hunk Madison (born Robert) to actor Pearce to director Ritchie to the Sesame Street Muppet Guy Smiley. But the bottom line is: Is Guy just too generic for your special little guy?

  • Magnus

    <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Magnus">Magnus</a> has rapidly morphed from powerful Swedish royal appellation meaning “great” to up-and-coming starbaby fave, having been chosen by <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Will">Will</a> Ferrell, <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Elizabeth">Elizabeth</a> Banks and <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Kirsty">Kirsty</a> Swanson for their sons. All three of the Scandinavian names picked by Ferrell and his Swedish wife <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Viveca">Viveca</a> Paulin -- Magnus, <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Matthias">Matthias</a> and <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Axel">Axel</a> -- are definitely on the rise.

  • Milton

    The challenge here is to erase from your mind the image of your Great Uncle <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Milton">Milton</a> (and/or the old TV comic Uncle Miltie Berle, born Uncle Mendel) and think instead of Milton as the elegant upper-class British surname it once was, and of the epic verse of the great poet John Milton -- just as you have succeeded in doing with <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Stanley">Stanley</a> and <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Sidney">Sidney</a>.

  • Nigel

    A name that Yanks have tended to see as too overly tea-and-crumpets British, but we see that as adding to its charm. <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Nigel">Nigel</a> Bruce was the original Dr. Watson to Basil (another one) Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes, Nigel is Duran Duran’s John Taylor’s birth name, Nigel Tufnel is the fictional lead guitarist in Spinal Tap, and high-profile photographer and reality show personality Nigel Barker has modernized it.

  • Otis

    <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Otis">Otis</a> is both cool and classy, via the timelessly bluesy voice of Otis Redding and the connection to society figures like publisher Otis Chandler. Though he’s been off the charts since 1995, we predict that Otis, with its friendly and energetic O-beginning and combination of strength and spunk, will come back in a big way, quite possibly as the next Owen.

  • Simeon

    Parents seeking a less simple version of <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Simon">Simon</a> could consider the possibility of this original Hebrew version of the name, with its rhythmic sound similar to the growing-in-popularity <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Gideon">Gideon</a>. The first known <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Simeon">Simeon</a> was the second son of <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Jacob">Jacob</a> and <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Leah">Leah</a>, who gave his name to one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Simm makes for a friendly nickname.

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