Ireland is primarily an English-speaking country, but the native Irish language is deeply embedded into the culture; many Irish words and phrases are used in everyday life.
Names are an area where the Irish language thrives. Irish-language names are among the most popular in the country.
Foreigners sometimes find Irish names confusing because their spelling and pronunciation differ a lot from English.
Don’t let their complicated spelling deter you; Irish names are beautiful and meaningful. Many come from Irish and Celtic mythology, while others are direct adaptations of Irish words.
Among the myriad choices available for Irish girls' names, some stand out by being much more popular than the rest.
Whether it's due to their melodic qualities or their historical significance, certain names crop up again and again — and many of them have even become popular overseas.Ciara (pronunciation: keera)
Ciara is the feminine form of the masculine name Ciarán. Both names come from the Irish word “ciar” which means “dark”. A possible interpretation of these names is “dark-haired”.
This name is often spelled in an anglicized form such as Kiera or Keira. It is a popular name, not just in Ireland but around the world.
Although the recent surge in the name's popularity may be linked to the British actress Keira Knightley, it has been used in Ireland for centuries.Róisín (pronunciation: row-sheen or rosh-een)
Róisín is a popular girl name in Ireland. This name means ‘little rose’. There are two ways to pronounce this name, which vary based on the place in Ireland.
In general, people from the south of Ireland will pronounce it ‘row-sheen’, while people in the north pronounce it ‘rosh-een’. Either way, this is a sweet and pretty Irish girl's name.Saoirse (pronunciation: seer-sha or sur-sha)
Saoirse is an increasingly common name not just in Ireland but also worldwide, partly due to the influence of Irish actress Saoirse Ronan.
This name is a direct use of the Irish word « saoirse », meaning ‘freedom’ or ‘liberty’.
There are two common pronunciations of the name; some lengthen the sound of the first syllable to ‘seer’, while some pronounce it like ‘sur’. Both are correct and it simply comes down to personal preference.Siobhán (pronunciation: shiv - awn)
Siobhán is a very common name for women and girls in Ireland. This name is religious in meaning, with the translation being either ‘God’s grace’ or ‘the Lord is gracious’.
While being a very popular name in Ireland, the name is also relatively common in Britain and North America — first becoming popular due to Irish actress Siobhán McKenna (1923 - 1986). Some consider Joan or Joanna to be the English forms of this name.Sinéad (pronunciation: shin-aid)
Sinéad and Siobhán are two related Irish female names. The former is often considered to be a diminutive form of the latter. The name Sinéad is known worldwide; it was made famous by the legendary Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor.
The name means ‘God’s gracious gift’ and is often translated to English as Jane or Janet. While some people choose to spell this name with no fada (accent) — like Sinead — the pronunciation remains the same.Orla / Orlaith (pronunciation: or-la)
Orla and Orlaith are different forms of the same Irish girl name. Its etymology is quite enchanting, as it combines the Irish word “ór,” meaning “gold,” with the literary Irish word “flaith,” meaning “prince.” Therefore, the name can be interpreted as “Golden Princess.”
Although there are multiple spellings of this name — Orla, Orlagh, Orlaith, to name a few — they are all pronounced the same.
For decades, this name has enjoyed consistent popularity in Ireland. As a result, it is common to meet people of all ages with this name.
Irish and Celtic mythology are a central part of Irish culture, as well as the source of many beautiful names.
These are perhaps the most traditional Irish names, as they have been around for thousands of years — but they are still used regularly today and it is common to meet people of all ages with them.Áine (pronunciation: awn-yah)
Although the Irish name Áine resembles the English name Anne, these two names have different origins.
The name Anne (which is related to the name Hanna) originates from Hebrew. But the name Áine is derived from an ancient Celtic word meaning “radiance”.
Despite being linguistically unrelated, the name Áine is sometimes translated to English as Ann or Anna. In addition, the names Áine and Anne both share the same name day (July 26th).
In Irish mythology, Áine is the name of the Celtic Goddess of summer and wealth.Aoife (pronunciation: ee-fah)
Aoife is a common Irish name for girls today, in addition to being very common in Irish mythology, as the name of many different heroines — most notably the legend of the greatest warrior woman in the world.
It is thought that the name Aoife is derived from the Irish word ‘aoibh’, meaning ‘beauty’, ‘joyful’, or ‘radiance’.Deirdre (pronunciation: deer-drah)
While it is common to hear the name Deirdre in Ireland, it is normally among older generations as the popularity of this as a baby girl name has gone down in recent years.
In Irish mythology, Deirdre was the most beautiful woman in Ireland and she died of a broken heart. Hence, the meaning of the name Deirdre is ‘broken-hearted’ or ‘sorrowful’.Eimear/Emer (pronunciation: ee-mer)
There are two ways to spell this traditional Irish name — Eimear and Emer. Both translate to the English word ‘swift’.
In Irish mythology, Emer was the wife of legendary Irish warrior Cú Chulainn, and she was said to have possessed the six ‘gifts’ of womanhood: beauty, voice, speech, needlework, wisdom, and chastity.
While this name is not hugely popular for newborn babies today, it is common to meet women and girls in Ireland with this name.Gráinne (pronunciation: grawn - yah)
Gráinne is another much-loved name for Irish girls. The meaning is not completely certain, but it is thought to come from either the Irish word ‘grian’ (sun) or the word ‘grán’ (grain).
This Irish girl's name is steeped in legend, with many great women in Irish and Celtic mythology bearing this name.
The real-life person most associated with the name is Gráinne Mhaol (sometimes known as Granuaile or Grace O’Malley) — a legendary Irish pirate from the 16th century, known by her nickname ‘The Pirate Queen’.Meabh (pronunciation: mayve)
While the anglicized spelling of this girl's name (Maeve) is more popular in Britain and the US, the Irish spellings Meabh and (the lesser used) Meadhbh are still seen regularly in Ireland.
The name Meabh comes from the Old Irish Madb (or Medb), meaning ‘intoxicating’.
The name is often associated with the ancient warrior queen Meabh, a powerful woman in Irish legend. Some choose to spell this name with a fada over the e: Méabh.Niamh (pronunciation: neev)
Niamh is a traditional Irish girl name that is still very common in the country today. The name means ‘radiance’ and ‘brightness’.
In Irish mythology, ‘Niamh of the Golden Hair’ was the daughter of the sea god Manannan, and the lover of warrior Oisín in the legend of Tir na nÓg.
This romantic association might be the reason why this name has been consistently used in Ireland for decades.
While many people are named after the ancient myths of Ireland, there are other Irish girls' names that have become popular much more recently.
These names may have older origins, but their popularity in recent years makes them truly modern.Aisling (pronunciation: ash-ling)
The name Aisling comes from the old Irish word for ‘vision’ or ‘dream’, but it was first used as a name only in the 20th century.
Today, it is very common to meet someone with this name in Ireland. The variation Aislinn is also regularly used, and it has also been anglicized in North America as Ashling or Ashlynn.Caoimhe (pronunciation: kee-vah or kwee-vah)
Caoimhe is a popular girl name with several nice meanings: ‘lovely’, ‘beautiful’, and ‘precious’.
There are two standard pronunciations of the name — kee-vah or kwee-vah — which are generally dependent on what part of Ireland you’re from.
This name started to become popular in Ireland in the 1970s and is now one of the most common names for baby girls. There is also a rarer but equally lovely boys’ version of this name — Caoimhín.Clodagh (pronunciation: cloh-dah)
Clodagh is a pretty Irish girl's name that comes from the name of a river in Waterford, Ireland.
It was first used as a name in the 1800s and its popularity has continued to rise, making it more modern than many of the names on this list.
It is now the 40th most popular baby girl name in the country.Doireann (pronunciation: deer-in)
This pretty name has ancient roots but has grown again in popularity in recent years.
Some believe that this comes from the Irish word for ‘wood’ (‘doire’), but generally, it is thought that this name means ‘sullen’.
It is sometimes translated into English as Dorothy.Éabha (pronunciation: ave-ah)
Éabha is another girl name that has dramatically risen in popularity in Ireland in recent years.
The rise in popularity of this name goes along with the increase in the use of the English name Ava. These names are both among the most common names in Ireland; they are pronounced the same but their meanings differ.
Ava comes from the Latin word for ‘bird’, while Éabha is actually the Irish name for the religious figure Eve.Fiadh (pronunciation: fee-ah)
The name Fiadh has dramatically grown in popularity over the last 10 years.
The name means ‘wild’, but is also associated with the Irish word ‘fia’, meaning ‘deer’. For ease of pronunciation, some people choose to spell this name as Fia.
Most of the names covered so far are relatively common in Ireland. In this section, we will look at some rarer names.Aifric (pronunciation: aff-rick)
This name is sometimes mistranslated as the Irish word for ‘Africa’, but in fact, the name means ‘pleasant’.
The name became more popular with the Irish-language TV show Aifric, but it still remains a unique name in the country.Bláithín (pronunciation: blaw-heen)
This uncommon but beautiful name means ‘little flower’ in Irish — with ‘bláth’ being the Irish word for ‘flower’ and the ‘ín’ denoting the diminutive form.
Alternate versions of this name include the equally lovely Bláthnaid or Bláthnat (blaw-nid).Caoilfhionn (pronunciation: key-lin)
Although the spelling of the name Caoilfhionn might seem intimidating, its pronunciation is nice and simple.
The anglicized version — Keelin — is slightly more common than the Irish spelling, but both are unique names for girls.
Caoilfhionn is derived from a combination of two Irish words — ‘caol’, meaning ‘slender’, and ‘fionn’ meaning ‘fair’.Liadán / Líadan (pronunciation: lia-dawn or lee-a-din)
The name Liadán means ‘grey lady’ (derived from the Irish word ‘liath’, meaning ‘grey’).
The pronunciation of this name depends on the placement of the fada (accent). If spelled Liadán, the last syllable will be elongated to ‘dawn’. If spelled Líadan, the emphasis shifts to the first syllable, and the end will sound more like ‘din’.
Either way, this is a lyrical and unique girl's name.Síomha (pronunciation: shee-va)
Síomha is a beautiful name derived from the combination of the Irish words 'síth' (meaning 'peace') and 'maith' (meaning 'good').
This is a medieval name that has been used for centuries; and it is still occasionally encountered today in Ireland.Conclusion
As you can see, Irish girl names are diverse and have fascinating meanings.
While some of these names might look complicated to those who don’t speak Irish, the lovely lyrical nature of the language makes them sound truly beautiful.