Are you looking for unique Irish baby names? Here’s a rundown of some traditional Irish names and their meanings.
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For more than a hundred years the name Liam has remained popular in the United States and it is little wonder that Irish names remain so popular given that as of 2013 55.3 million Americans reported Irish ancestry to the American Community Survey.
In Ireland, Irish names remain relatively popular. I think everyone I know has at least one Aoife, Ciara, Siobhan, or Niamh in their lives! However, for our American cousins, it’s often the pronunciation or spelling of the names that put people off. Hello! Way too many vowels!
Our team at IrishCentral hear your struggles so we’ve put together a guide to the pronunciation, meaning, and alternatives to the most popular Irish girl names:
Here are the top traditional Irish names for baby girls:
Meaning: “God is gracious”
History: Derived from the Anglo-Norman name Jehane and Jehanne, it is another form of the English name Joan. The name Siobhan was introduced to Ireland by the Anglo-Normans in the Middle Ages.
The Scottish Gaelic form of the name is Siubhan (which is usually anglicized Judith).
Pronunciation: shiv + awn
English versions: Sihobeon, Shevaun, Shivaun, Shevaun, Shavon, or Chevonne
Meaning: “beautiful, radiant, joyful”
History: Known as the greatest woman warrior in the world, Aoife was the mother of Cuchulainn’s (read the legend) only son, Connlach. Aoife Dearg (“Red Aoife") was a daughter of a king of Connacht who had her marriage arranged by St. Patrick himself.
In 2003, Aoife was the third most popular Irish girl's name for babies in Ireland.
Pronunciation: ee + fa
English version: Eva or Eve
Meaning: From the Irish ciar, meaning “dark”.
History: St. Ciara was a distinguished seventh-century figure who established a monastery at Kilkeary in County Tipperary. It was the tenth most popular baby girl's name in Ireland in 2006.
Pronunciation: kee + ra
English version: Keera, Keira, Keara, or Kira
Meaning: “gentle, beautiful, precious”
History: It is the Irish feminine version of the given name derived from Irish caomh meaning "dear or noble", from the same root as the masculine name Caoimhín (Kevin).
As of 2014, it was ranked the 19th most popular name among female births in Ireland.
Pronunciation: kee + va
English version: Keeva or Keva
Meaning: “radiance, luster, brightness”
History: In Irish mythology, Niamh is the daughter of the god of the sea, Manannán mac Lir and one of the queens of Tír na nÓg, the land of eternal youth. She was the lover of the poet-hero Oisín.
Neave is an unrelated English surname cognate to the word nephew.
In 2003 it was the eleventh most popular baby girl’s name in Ireland.
Pronunciation: nee + iv
English version: Neeve, Neve, Neaf, Niave, Neaves, Neeves, or Niaves
Meaning: “freedom, liberty"
History: This name has only been used since the 1920s and has strong patriotic overtones. It has become a very popular baby girl name in Ireland in recent years.
With good reason…
What’s your favorite Irish baby name? Let us know in the comment section below.
* Originally published in 2018.