There are a lot of appealing things about Irish culture that Americans often want to emulate. We love the accents, the music, and the holidays. In fact, nearly 1 out of 10 Americans can claim Irish ancestry, so it’s no surprise that Irish baby names have long been popular in the U.S.
For a long time, there were well-known favorites: Patrick, Sean, Colleen, and Caitlin. But now, at a time when parents are increasingly open to tricky spellings and pronunciations, Irish names are experiencing a resurgence in popularity. From famous Irish actors to beloved characters in books and TV series, Irish pop-culture references seem increasingly prevalent in America. Look to Irish names for their beautiful and unique sounds. Here are some of our favorites:
Irish Baby Names for Girls
Irish spelling: Meabh
This increasingly popular name means “intoxicating one,” and you can almost picture the fiery little girl to go along with it. With a very approachable spelling, this name is simple to pronounce but still special.
Fiona is derived from the male “Fionn,” and means white, or fair. With pop culture references like the fierce and feminist Fiona Apple and the anti-princess, Fiona, from Shrek, this name feels just right for a strong-willed girl.
Dabbling in the more difficult names to pronounce, Aoife is memorable and pretty. With the meaning of “beautiful” and “radiant,” it is suitable for many personalities.
Pronunciation: Seer-sha, Sur-sha
This intriguing name is a sure-fire way to communicate your Irish heritage. With the meaning of “Liberty,” and the association with actress Saoirse Ronan, this tricky spelling feels brave and intentional.
Pronunciation: Neev, Nee-uv
Whether you use the Gaelic spelling or the Anglicized version of “Neve,” this name feels light yet bold and means “bright.” Celebrity Neve Campbell helped popularize this name.
With the meaning of “golden princess,” Orla has been popular in Ireland for hundreds of years. If you’re drawn to names ending in “-a” but trying to avoid the more popular “Ella” or “Nora,” Orla might be the perfect fit.
According to Nameberry, Fiadh was the most popular girls’ name in Ireland in 2021, so there’s no doubt that it will be gaining popularity in the U.S. soon. A unique alternative to “Mia” and “Eva,” you can easily adapt the spelling to “Fia” for a short and sweet moniker.
This uniquely Irish version of Elizabeth may be a perfect alternative to the wildly popular “Isla.” If you’re looking for something authentically Irish with an easy-to-remember pronunciation, this name meets both requirements.
Irish Baby Names for Boys
While you may recognize the name from actor Cillian Murphy, this name hasn’t caught on to being overly popular in the U.S. yet. With the alternate spelling, “Killian,” this name feels authentically Irish while still being accessible.
This very traditional Irish name could fill in for the wildly popular “Aidan” if you’re willing to correct any mispronunciations. The name of one of Ireland’s most famous Presidents, it’s the perfect combination of soft and strong.
This strong, warrior-sounding name is recognizable from author Cormac Macarthy, and you can make it your own with a nickname like “Mac.”
Cian is deeply rooted in Irish tradition and has become more popular in the last 20 years. With a meaning of “ancient and enduring,” this is an interesting alternative to “Sean” or “Brian.” It can also be spelled “Kian” for ease of pronunciation in the US.
As the Irish version from which Ryan is derived, this feels like a modern and unique approach that won’t have tons of duplicates in your child’s Kindergarten class. And, with the meaning of “Little King,” you can’t go wrong.
Pronunciation: Fee-on, Fee-un
Fionn comes from a hero of Irish mythology and is the male version of “Fiona.” This is a strong alternative to the increasingly popular “Finn” for those who like the sound but prefer to stand out a little more.
If you want to switch up the traditional “Brendan” or “Brandon,” Brannon is an interesting and less-popular option outside of Ireland.
Derived from the traditional surname of “O’Connell,” Connell is recognizable from Sally Rooney’s book and Hulu series, Normal People. One can only hope the baby would speak with an Irish accent to go along with his name!
Gender-Neutral Irish Baby Names
If you prefer names that feel right regardless of gender, here are some Irish baby names that have become more gender-neutral in the last several years.
Pronunciation: Keer-an, Keer-un
Traditionally a boy’s name, Kieran has grown in popularity for girls, perhaps for parents who are looking for an alternative to the popular “Kiera.”
Originally known as a boy’s name—meaning “red king”—today the United States has plenty of Rorys who are girls. In the U.K., however, Rory is likened to “Roger” and is a name rarely given to girls.
If you’re looking for a more modern “Carrie,” there is the easy-to-pronounce Kerrigan. “Kerr” is an attractive nickname to consider.
Callen can work as an alternative to the popular Irish names “Collin” or “Colleen.” Either way, this name is accessible and suited to a boy or a girl.
A truly gender-neutral name, Quinn is a strong one-syllable name meaning “descendant of Conn, chief leader, intelligence,” according to the experts at Nameberry. Quinn saw a sharp rise in popularity towards the end of the 1990s.