Muhammad and Freya are among the most popular first time baby names on Irish passports in 2016, the Irish government has revealed.
The rise in Arabic names is a reflection of the increasing multicultural nature of Ireland and where new immigrants are coming from.
The 2011 census showed 50,000 Muslim migrants living in Ireland, up from 36,000 in the census taken in 2006.
Freya means “beloved” in Arabic, while Muhammad means “praiseworthy” and is also, of course, the name of Islam's founder. They ranked at numbers 42 and 117, respectively.
The most popular overall names of babies on passports went to girls named Emily and boys named James. A total of 17,752 passports were issued to babies born in 2016.
Irish language names continued to be in vogue in Ireland over the last 12 months, with names like Aoife and Finn among the most popular. The renewal in interest in native Irish names and culture coincided with the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising.
In the 1911 baby census, taken five years before the Easter Rising such Irish names wear nowhere to be found. “It is interesting, however, to look back to 1911, just five years before the Easter Rising, when such names hardly registered at all, with John and Mary being the most popular baby names, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD, stated. He also noted his personal disappointment that the name Charlie had dropped in popularity.
While the final figures are due later this month, Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs has said that around 740,000 Irish passports were issued last year.
Minister Flanagan said on Tuesday: “In 2016, we expect to issue some 740,000 passports by year’s end, a new record for the number of passports issued in any year to date and 2017 promises to be another busy year, both on the baby-making and passports-issuing fronts.”
Last October, The Irish Post based in London revealed that over the last five years the number of people in Britain and the North of Ireland seeking to hold an Irish travel document had almost doubled – rising from 7,090 over the month of June 24 – July 24, 2011 to 13,756 for the same period last year.
On June 24, 2016 – the day after the Brexit vote – the number of applications to the Irish Embassy in London was 151.
Similarly, in Northern Ireland, applications for an Irish passport on June 24 spiked to 207 in one day.
For instructions on applying for an Irish passport, visit the DFA website here.