We recently asked you, our loyal IrishCentral readers, to share your thoughts about your favorite Irish names.
Editor’s Note: This October, IrishCentral will be publishing a series of articles celebrating Irish family heritage, from genealogy and personal tales to interesting Irish names. With up to 80 million people around the world claiming Irish ancestry, IrishCentral's Irish Family Heritage Month has a lot to celebrate! Keep up-to-date with all genealogy stories on IrishCentral here.
Nearly 400 of you took the time to respond to our latest IrishCentral readers survey, which asked you to share your favorite Irish names for girls, boys, and names that can be used for either girls or boys.
The results were a varied mix of stunning Irish names, proving yet again what great taste you all have.
While we'll be sharing your favorite Irish names for boys and favorite Irish names for boys or girls in the coming days, here are the top 30 favorite Irish names for girls and their meanings amongst IrishCentral readers (in descending order):
Siobhan - 9.28%
Siobhan is another form of the name “Joan,” and means “God has been gracious” or “God’s grace.” It can also mean “full of charm.”
Bridget - 5.41%
This name is derived from the noun brígh, meaning "power, strength, vigor, virtue." An alternate meaning of the name is "exalted one."
Saoirse - 3.87%
This name means "freedom" or "liberty." It has strong patriotic overtones and has only been in use since the 1920s.
Shannon - 3.35%
This name means “wise river.” The Irish form is Sionainn and it has many spelling variations, but it comes from ‘sion’ (wise) and ‘abhainn’ (river).
Kathleen - 2.84%
Kathleen is an Anglicized variant of the Irish name Caitlín, which derived from the name Katharine.
Fiona - 2.84%
This name means fair, white, beautiful. It is the feminine form of Fionn.
Deirdre - 2.84%
This name comes from the older Gaelic form “Derdriu.” The meaning is possibly derived from the Celtic word for woman. In Irish legend, Dierdre was the name of a tragic character who died of a broken heart after Conchobar, the King of Ulster, killed her lover Naoise.
Erin - 2.84%
Erin is a Hiberno-English derivative of the Irish word "Éirinn," which is the dative case of the Irish word for Ireland - "Éire", genitive "Éireann." The dative form is the one usually used in spoken Irish where the written language would require the nominative "Éire."
Poets and nineteenth-century Irish nationalists used Erin in English as a romantic name for Ireland. In this context, along with Hibernia, Erin is the name given to the female personification of Ireland, but the name was rarely used as a given name, probably due to the fact that no saints, queens, or literary figures were ever called Erin.
According to Irish mythology and folklore, the name was originally given to the island by the Milesians after the goddess Ériu.
Maeve - 2.58%
This name means “intoxicating.” In the Irish legend, Meabh was the warrior queen of Connacht.
Aoife - 2.58%
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.
Colleen - 2.32%
This is a common English language name of Irish American origin and a generic term for Irish women or girls, from the Irish cailín 'unmarried girl/woman', the diminutive of caile 'woman, countrywoman'.
Aisling - 2.32%
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.
Kelly - 2.06%
Kelly is of Irish-Gaelic origin and derived from the surname Ó Ceallaigh. It means “descendant of Ceallach” and “warrior” (from Old Irish “ceallach” = war/strife).
The name Maureen means 'of the sea' or 'bitter.' It is the diminutive form of Maire (Mary).
Caitlin - 1.55%
The name Caitlin means Pure and is of Irish origin. Irish form of Catherine. Pronounced "Cotch-LEEN" in Irish or "KATE-lin" in English. It is the Irish version of the Old French name Cateline [katlin], which comes from Catherine, which in turn comes from the Ancient Greek Αἰκατερίνη (Aikaterine).
Roisin - 1.55%
This name means "little rose," and has been used 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.
Brigid - 1.55%
Brigid (or Bridget, which is also included on this list!) is a Gaelic/Irish female name derived from the noun brígh, meaning "power, strength, vigor, virtue". An alternate meaning of the name is "exalted one".
Mary - 1.55%
While this name is not Irish in its origin, it is very popular in Irish and Irish American naming practices. Its several meanings include "bitter," "beloved," "rebelliousness," "wished-for child," "marine," and “drop of the sea."
Orla - 1.55%
Also spelled Orlaith, this name means “golden princess” or “golden sovereign” in Irish. Both the sister and daughter of Brian Boru were named Orla.
Eileen - 1.55%
Eileen is an Anglicized variant of the Irish names Eibhlin and Ailbhlin, which derived from the names Aveline or Helen. Eileen means “strength,” “little bird” and “desired” (from Aveline) and “torch,” “beautiful,” “light,” “bright,” and “shining” (from Helen).
Niamh - 1.29%
Meaning radiance, luster, or brightness. In Irish mythology, Niamh was the daughter of Manannan, the 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.
Nora - 1.29%
The Irish Nóra is likewise probably an Irish form of Honora. A diminutive form of Nóra is Nóirín; this name has numerous Anglicised forms, such as Noreen, Norene, Nóinín, and Norine. It is similar to the Arabic name Noor or Nura, meaning "fire, light, heat" amongst others.
Meghan - 1.03%
This is the American pseudo-Irish spelling of Megan. The name Meghan means Pearl and is of Welsh origin. In the Greek tradition, Megan means mighty; strong, able; pearl; soft and gentle.
Cara - 1.03%
In Irish, Cara simply means "a friend."
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.
Kiera - 0.77%
Kiera is an Anglicized version of Ciara, the name of a 7th-century saint, and means 'dark' or 'dark haired ' in Irish.
Claire - 0.77%
Claire or Clair is a given name of French origin. The word means clear in French in its feminine form.
The name can also be spelled as "Clare," which is a county in the southwest of Ireland. In Irish and English, it is the habitational name from Clare in Suffolk (probably named with a Celtic river name meaning ‘bright’, ‘gentle’, or ‘warm’). One of the first Normans in Ireland (1170–72) was Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke, better known as ‘Strongbow’, who took his surname from his estate in Suffolk.
Moira - 0.77%
An English form of the Irish name Máire, which derived from the name Maria. Moira means “destiny,” “fate” (from Greek “μοίρα/moira”) and deriving from Maria, Moira means “sea of bitterness,” “drop of the sea,” “star of the sea,” “rebelliousness,” “exalted one,” “beloved,” and “wished for child."
Molly - 0.77%
This is a diminutive of the biblical name Mary. Molly means “sea of bitterness,” “drop of the sea,” “star of the sea,” “rebelliousness,” “exalted one,” “beloved,” and “wished for child.
Sadhbh - 0.77%
This name mean can either mean sweet and lovely, or wise.