Colorful Irish Names and their Meanings

Hi guys, it’s good to be back in Ireland! I spent the summer months with my family in America and I told my parents about some funny traditions in Ireland and how they name their children here. I did some research and let me tell you what I found out about colorful Irish names and their meanings. The following Benny Lewis video will help if you struggle how to say names like Niamh, Seán, Ciara, Cathal, or Oisín right.

Irish names are perfect for a baby girl or boy. They’re even good to use for your dog or other pets. Irish last names have a rich and colorful history. You can use these names to proudly proclaim your heritage. If you’re not Irish then you can use them just because they sound cool. I mean who wouldn’t want a Wolfhound named Ryan or an Irish Terrier called Duffy.

It’s too late for my parents to use Irish names for their kids. I guess we were born before they became really interested in family history or genealogy though they’ve always been involved in Irish clubs in America. Oh, to be young and foolish again. When I get older, I hope I’ll be wiser. I’m really into our family history.

Other members of my family have carried on with our ethnic traditions. I have a nephew named Sean, a niece named Kathleen. One of my brothers and his daughter share the middle name of Kerrigan. Delia Kerrigan was my great grandmother. She came to the U.S. in 1896 originally from Athlone, Ireland. If you would like to read a fictional account of what it was like to immigrate from Ireland to the the late 1800s be sure to read the sample chapter of Whispers On The Wind by Bridget Blanton.

My father’s name Michael derived from Hebrew meaning, ‘who is like God’ is a common name in Ireland. Mick is a common pet form of the name Michael. Mick is also a slang word that has come to mean Irishman. In the British Army, the Irish Guards are referred to as “The Micks“.

In this post, let’s check out the 25 most popular Irish baby girl names and their meanings. This is what I learned here. The Irish baby girl names listed here also list the meaning and origin of the name. After all, you want to pick the best name for your precious little girl. You need a name that fits her individual personality.

Some names are based on Greek, Hebrew, German, and Latin origins. Gaelic names are making a big come back since the turn of the 20th century and names from Druidry seem to be popular as well. They even have a Cruidry College here, did you know that? Some are heroic. Some are godlike. They are all Irish baby girl names and based on the latest census reports from the Central Statistics Office of Ireland. The Irish baby girl names are listed from most popular on down.

Now, on to the Irish baby girl names

1. Emma (em-a) From Germanic ermen meaning “whole” or “universal”. This name has been used a lot in England and Wales. It has become very popular in Ireland.

2. Sarah (ser-a) From Hebrew meaning “princess”. Sometimes used to anglicise the Gaelic names Sorcha (“radiant”), Sive (“sweet”), Saraid(“excellent”).

3. Katie (kay-tee) Most likely, but much debated, from the Greek katharos meaning “pure”. Based on the name Katherine and Kathleen, but in this case used by itself.

4. Amy (ay-mee) From Old French meaning “beloved”.

5. Aoife (ee-fa) From the Gaelic “aoibh” meaning “beauty”. Aoife was a warrior princess in Celtic mythology. The Gaelic form of Eve or Eva.

6. Ciara (kee-a-ra, keer-a) Feminine form of Ciaran Based on the Gaelic word cair meaning “black”. Saint Ciara was the Irish nun who established a monastery at Kilkeary.

7. Sophie (so-fee) From the Greek language meaning “wisdom”. The French form of this name is Sophia. The name is used to anglicize the Gaelic name Sive (“sweet”).

8. Chloe (klo-ee) From Greek meaning “green shoot”. Associated with the Greek goddess of the harvest Demeter.

9. Leah (lee-a) From the Hebrew word le’ah meaning “weary”. Leah is the name of the first wife of Jacob from the Old Testament. She was the mother of his seven children. Maybe that was why she was “weary”.

10. Ella (el-a) Short form of the name Ellen which is derived from the name Helen From Greek meaning “bright one”. Also, from Greek mythology Helen of Troy.

11. Emily (em-i-lee) From the Latin aemulus meaning “rival” The name was presumed to be imported from Britain.

12. Rachel (ray-chel) From Hebrew meaning “ewe”. Rachel was the favorite wife of Jacob from the Old Testament. This name has become well established in Ireland.

13. Niamh (neev) From Celtic mythology meaning “bright”. Niamh was the daughter of the Princess of the Promise Land and the Sea God. She departed for the Otherworld with Ossian, the son of Finn MacCool. The anglicized spelling is Niav.

14. Grace (grays) Derives from the Latin word gratia meaning grace. The anglicized form of the Gaelic name Grania meaning “grain goddess” from Celtic mythology.

15. Rebecca (re-bek-a) From Hebrew possibly meaning “heifer” or “a snare”. Rebecca was the wife of Isaac from the Old Testament. Mother of Esau and Jacob.

16. Hannah (han-a) From Hebrew meaning “favor” or “grace”. Anna is the Latin form of this name. Also used as a pet form of the names Johanna and Nora.

17. Caoimhe (kee-va, kwee-va) From the Gaelic caomh meaning “beautiful”.

18. Ava (ay-va) Derived from the name Eve. From the Hebrew meaning “to breathe”.

19. Lauren (lawr-en) From the Latin laurus meaning “laurel”. Feminine form of the name Laurence.

20. Jessica (jes-i-ka) From Hebrew meaning “God beholds”. First used in its present form by Shakespeare in his play “The Merchant of Venice”.

21. Anna (an-a) From Hebrew meaning “favor” or “grace”. The Latin form of Hannah. Used to anglicize the Gaelic name Aine (“joy” or “praise”).

22. Kate (kay-t) Most likely, but much debated, from the Greek katharos meaning “pure”. Based on the name Katherine and Kathleen, but in this case used by itself.

23. Roisin (rosh-een) From Latin rosa meaning “rose”. Pet form of the name Rois.

24. Lucy (lou-see) From the Latin lux meaning “light”. Feminine form of the Name Lucius. Anglicized version of the Gaelic name Luighseach.

25. Molly (mahl-ee) The meaning for this name is not clear. It was a pet form of the name Mary. Now it seems to stand by itself. Used to translate the Gaelic names Maille and Mailse.

I hope these Irish baby girl names have given you ideas for some names. For now, I’ll be going back to school here in Ireland. I loved the days in America but I’m also glad to back on this lovely green island. This is my final high school year and I’m thinking about going to college here as well. It seems that the University of Limerick has some pretty good courses and the school’s reputation is impeccable. I’ll keep you posted on how things go this school year!