For more than 100 years, the name Liam has remained popular in the United States. 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, the pronunciation and spelling of traditional Irish girl names often prove difficult.
The team here at IrishCentral hears your struggles so we’ve put together a guide to the pronunciation, meaning, and alternatives to the most popular Irish girl names.
Here are some of the most popular traditional Irish names for baby girls:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
*Originally published in 2018, updated in September 2023.