03/05/2018 17:17 EST | Updated 03/06/2018 10:14 EST

Old Irish Baby Names That Sound Surprisingly Modern

These monikers are seriously underused.

Parents-to-be are always on the hunt for the hottest names for their little ones. But what if we told you you only need to look back to the past to find them?

It's not uncommon for old-fashioned names to become new again — just take the revival of Edith or Oscar for example — which is why we're all for vintage names, especially ones of the Irish variety.


Irish monikers have become incredibly popular in Canada and the U.S. in recent years, mainly thanks to their charming sounds and unique spellings — Siobhan and Declan are some prime examples. But old Irish names are even more unique, and manage to conjure fairy tale imagery with their sounds, while still retaining a modern appeal.

Not sure what we mean? Take a look at the 10 old Irish names we've rounded up below. These fresh, unique choices might inspire you.

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1. Orla

Girl names that start with the letter "O" are fairly uncommon, which is why we're so drawn to the name Orla. Plus, the Irish moniker has an enchanting air about it, as it sounds like the name of a mystical goddess. Orla, however, actually means "golden princess," but that doesn't change the fact that we love its youthful, feminine vibe.

2. Niamh

You've likely heard this Irish name before, as it's highly popular across the pond. Pronounced neev, this name comes from Irish mythology, which is why goddesses are often associated with it. While spelling and pronunciation might be tricky, you have to admit it's a refreshing upgrade from the '90s name Neve (nehv).

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3. Cael

Cael (pronounced like kale) is actually a pretty cool name. It has a strong, sharp sound that gives it a modern feel compared to the more common Cal. And while it might seem odd to give your child a name that sounds like the leafy green, you'll be happy to know that Cael is the "name of the angel of the zodiac sign of Cancer and also of a warrior of Irish mythology," Nameberry reports.

4. Donnacha

Donnacha (done-acka) is actually an Irish boy name, despite its deceiving a-ending. We love that it's a name you don't hear every day, but that it can also be shortened to the more commonly heard Don. Donnacha is both strong and playful sounding, which is unique in itself. The name means "brown-haired warrior."

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5. Calleigh

This old Irish name simply means "descendant of Caollaidhe." The name is pronounced like Callie and has a very sweet and innocent feel to it. The Irish spelling (ending in –leigh) is what we particularly love, as it gives the name a soft and friendly appeal.

6. Aoife

This short and sweet name is pronounced EE-fa. Although similar sounding to the highly popular Eva and Ava, it's still a fresh alternative that hasn't quite caught on in North America. In Ireland, however, Aoife is very popular. The name means "beautiful or radiant" in Irish Gaelic.

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7. Rian

Rian (pronounced like Ryan) is an Irish unisex name, despite the fact that it means "little king." We love the subtle regalness of this moniker, as well as its unique spelling. And, considering how uncommon this name is in Canada and the U.S., your little one will really have the chance to make it his or her own.

8. Alastar

This is the Irish Gaelic form of Alexander, and just like its predecessor, the name exudes power and strength. If you're looking for a standout name that your little one can grow into, then Alastar is a great option.

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9. Ide

Although short and simple, Ide (EE-da) is a chic and sophisticated name that's on par with trendy vintage monikers like Edith and Innes. Ide means "thirst" and was the name of a sixth-century Irish saint.

10. Eoin

We have to admit we're drawn to unique spellings, especially if they pay tribute to cultural roots. The name Eoin is a perfect example of this, since it's pronounced exactly the same as Owen, but follows Irish spelling. The moniker means "God is gracious" and has other modern variations, including Ewan (YOO-un) and Eoghan (OH-in).

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