The most mispronounced Irish names in America

Having an Irish name in the US is an experience unto itself! There's the gradual acceptance that many people you meet - from new friends to the fine barristas at Starbucks - will have no idea how to spell or pronounce your name. There's the patience you learn to muster as you repeat your name slowly for the umpteenth time. There's the rare moment of sheer exultation when you encounter someone who gets your name right on the first go, or an Irish speaker who doesn't give it a second thought. 

Why do some Americans have such a hard time with Irish names? It's often the double vowel that catches out many people when they try to pronounce Gaelic names. Sometimes the triple vowel, as in “Caoimhe,” completely stumps them.

[Read more: The top 10 Irish language names for girls]

Here’s a list of the top ten tongue twisting Irish names - and a guide on how to pronounce them: 

1. Caoimhe

Meaning “gentle in Gaelic. Pronounced “Kweeva”, not “Cam-he”.

2. Siobhan

Very common Gaelic name. Pronounced “SHIV awn” not “SEE o ban”.

3. Oisin

Historical old Irish name of a fabled Fenian warrior (pictured above). Pronounced “USH een” not “Waz an”.

4. Sinead

Again a common girl’s name. Pronounced “SHIN ade” not “Sign aid”.

5. Aisling

Meaning dream or vision. Seen in "The Secret of Kells" Often pronounced “Ass Sling” by Americans. Proper pronunciation is “ASH ling”.

6. Niamh


Very common name with girls in Ireland. Pronounced “KNEE ov” not “NI Am H”.

7. Grainne

Pictured above is what is believed to be her grave in Omagh, Co. Tyrone. After famed love partner of Diarmuid, a Fenian chieftain. Pronounced “GRAWN YAH” not “granny”.

[Read more: The top 10 Irish language names for boys]

8. Cathal

Boys name meaning Charles in Gaelic. Pronounced “Cah Hull” not “cattle”.

9. Tadgh

This is a difficult one. This is a boy’s name. Pronounced “TIG” as in the first three letters in Tiger, not “Tad guh”.

10. Saoirse

Meaning freedom, see also actress Saoirse Ronan. Pronounced “See Or Shah” not “Sway oar sha”.

Practice makes perfect! And remember, before you complain about how hard they are to pronounce, it's important that you keep in mind the reason it's so hard; the names are in another language!

Good luck!