Perhaps American parents are looking for ways to make their kids stand out in kindergarten class. Perhaps they’re honoring Irish ancestors. Either way, Irish baby names are really on the rise this year in the US, according to The Huffington Post’s list of the hottest baby names for the first half of 2014.
From more noticeably Irish names like Kieran, Maeve and Declan to less obvious ones like Rory, Imogen or Oscar, names with Irish origins – close to 20 in total – are all over this list.
By using Anglicized versions of Gaelic names, new American parents are maintaining the unique sounds without the complex spellings: “Maeve,” rather than “Meadhbh,” for example.
And while some new parents are really going out on a limb this year by naming their daughters “Khaleesi” after the Game of Thrones character, names of Gaelic origin sound original in the US without being considered too “out there.”
Here is the Irish component of the 200 names – 100 girls and 100 boys (with some overlap).
Imogen (#1): already a popular name in England, Imogen comes from a misspelling made by one of Shakespeare’s printers of Irish name “Innogen,” which means “maiden.”
Maeve (#19): an Anglicized form of the Gaelic name “Medb” (and many other spelling variations) which means “intoxicating.” Irish legend holds that this was the name of a warrior queen of Connacht.
Nora (#34): has Irish roots as well as roots in other Northern European countries. It is an Anglicized variation of the Irish name Nóirín, which is usually used as a diminutive.
Finn (#43): though Finn is typically a male Irish name, stemming from Fionn, (meaning “fair” or “white”), American parents have begun to use it for their daughters.
Quinn (#59): used for males and females as well, this is an Anglicized version of Irish surname Ó Cuinn, meaning “descendant of Conn.” Conn means “chief” in Gaelic.
Rowan (#65): this unisex name also stems from an Irish surname. It is an Anglicized form of “Ó Ruadháin” which means “descendant of Ruadhán.”
Declan (#2): this spelling is used in Ireland too, but comes from Deaglán which means “full of goodness” as derived from “dag” (good) and “lan” (full). Saint Declan was a 5th century missionary to Ireland, thought to have started preaching before the arrival of Saint Patrick.
Finn (#4): this name shows up on both male and female lists. It’s an older Irish form and also Anglicized version of Fionn.
Owen (#15): this is a popular form of Irish name Eoghan, which, in Gaelic means “well born” or “yew born.” Another version is Eógan, which appears in Irish mythology.
Rowan (#18): this name made both the female and male top 100 list. It is an Anglicized form of “Ó Ruadháin” which means “descendant of Ruadhán,” a diminutive form of Ruadh, meaning red.
Liam (#22): this is the Irish short form of the name “William.” Other Irish variants of Liam are “Uilleag,” “Ulick” and “Uilleac.”
Flynn (#37): this name comes from Irish surname Ó Floinn meaning “descendant of Flann.” Flann also means “red” in Gaelic.
Quinn (#39): this name (“descendant of Conn”), appears on the top 100 list for both girls and boys.
Oscar (#43): this name translates into “deer lover,” as derived from Gaelic “os” (deer) and “cara” (lover). It also derives from Old Norse cognate “Ásgeirr” which may have been brought to Ireland by Viking invaders and settlers.
Kieran (#53): a version of the name Ciarán, though this spelling (among others) is also used in Ireland. It is the diminutive form of the name “Ciar,” meaning “black.” Saint Ciarán the Elder and Saint Ciarán of Clonmacnoise are two special namesakes.
Rory (#83): An Anglicized form of the Irish name Ruaidhrí, which means "red king" as derived from “ruadh” (red) and “rí” (king). Other spelling variants include Rorie, Ruaidrí, or Ruairí.
Ronan (#84): this name comes from Irish name Rónán, meaning “little seal.”
Finley (#88): an Anglicized form of the Irish name “Fionnlagh” which means “white warrior” in Gaelic.
Aiden (#90): this comes from Irish name “Áedán,” which is a diminutive of “Áed,” meaning “fire.” There are many spelling variations in Irish and English.
Nolan (#93): Nolan comes from Irish surname “Ó Nualláin” meaning "descendant of Nuallán.” Nuallán is derived from Irish word “nuall” which means “famous.”
Tristan (#96): though Tristan derives directly from Welsh, English and French, there is also an important derivation from Celtic mythology—the story of Tristan and Isolde, in which Tristan was sent to Ireland to fetch Isolde and, well, you know the rest.