Are you looking for Gaelic baby name inspiration? Here we have a list of Ireland’s most popular female names of Irish origin and their meanings. The names are pulled from from the Central Statistics Office’s 2013 release.
1. Aoife (pronounced: ee-fa)
This name means beautiful, radiant or joyful, and likely derives from the Gaelic word ‘aoibh’ meaning ‘beauty’ or ‘pleasure.’ In Irish mythology, Aoife is known as the greatest woman warrior in the world. She gave birth to the mythological hero Cuchulainn’s only son, Connlach, and was the daughter of a king of Connacht. Legend has it, her marriage was arranged by St. Patrick himself.
2. Caoimhe (pronounced: kwee-va or kee-va)
From the Gaelic word ‘caomh,’ this name means gentle, beautiful or precious.
3. Saoirse (pronounced: ser-sha)
This name means ‘freedom’ or ‘liberty.’ It has has strong patriotic overtones, and has only been in use since the 1920s.
4. Ciara (pronounced: kee-ra)
The feminine form of ‘Ciaran,’ this name comes from the Gaelic word ‘ciar,’ which means dark. It implies dark features, like hair or eyes. In history, St. Ciara was a distinguished figure who established a monastery in Co. Tipperary during the seventh century.
5. Niamh (pronounced: neev or nee-iv)
Meaning radiance, luster or brightness. In Irish mythology, Niamh was the daughter of Manannan, god of the sea - she was known as ‘Niamh of the Golden Hair’ and was usually depicted riding on a white horse. She was the lover of poet-hero Oisin; together they lived in Tir-na-nOg, the land of eternal youth.
6. Roisin (pronounced: ro-sheen)
This name means ‘little rose,’ and has been use in Ireland since the sixteenth century. When Irish patriotic poetry and song was outlawed in Ireland, Irish bands would disguise their nationalistic verses and love songs, and sing about Roisin Dubh (‘Dark Rosaleen’) as the poetic symbol for their country.
7. Clodagh (pronounced: clo-da)
Named for the River Clodagh, or Clody River, which runs through Co. Tipperary and Co. Wexford. Like most Irish rivers, the name is associated with a female deity.
8. Aisling (pronounced: ash-ling)
This name means ‘dream’ or ‘vision’ from the Gaelic word ‘aislinge’ and refers to an “aisling,” which is a poetic genre of Irish language poetry from the late 17th century. It only started being used as a first name in the 20th century. The poetic genre has been personified in Ireland as a beautiful woman in peril.
9. Eabha (pronounced: ey-va)
This is the Irish form of Eve (Adam and Eve are Ádhamh agus Éabha in Irish). It means ‘life,’ but comes with all of the connotations of the name Eve, i.e. the mother of all the living.
10. Aoibhinn (pronounced: ey-veen or ee-van)
This name means pleasant, beautiful sheen of radiant beauty. It was a common name for princesses among the royal families of Ireland that has been revived in recent years.
* Originally published October 2014.