Irish Girl Names: a comprehensive guide

Ireland is a primarily English-speaking country, but the native language of Irish is ingrained into the culture, with many words and phrases being used in everyday life.

One area of life in which Irish is very commonly used is in names; Irish-language names are among the most popular in the country.

This can sometimes confuse foreign people - especially as the spelling and pronunciation of these names are so different to English.

But don’t let the complicated spelling deter you; Irish names are meaningful and beautiful. Many are taken from figures in Irish and Celtic mythology, and others are direct translations of Irish words.

This article discusses a selection of pretty Irish girls names, from the most popular to the most unique.

Popular Irish girls names in Ireland and around the world

While there are hundreds of possibilities for Irish girls' names, some stand out as being much more popular than others.

Whether this is because of how the names sound or because of the history around them, there’s no denying that certain names will crop up again and again - and many of them have even become popular overseas.

Here are some popular Irish girls’ names:

Ciara (pronunciation: keera)

The Irish girl name Ciara comes from the also popular boys’ name Ciarán, which means ‘dark haired’.

Often anglicized as Kiera or Keira, this name is popular in Ireland and around the world.

While the newfound popularity of the name might be connected to British actress Keira Knightley, the name has been in use 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 girl name in Ireland and around the world, with many taking influence from 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 is related - and often considered to be a diminutive form of - Siobhán. This is a well-known name worldwide, made famous by 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 always remains the same.

Orla / Orlaith (pronunciation: or-la)

This lovely Irish girl name means ‘golden princess’: a combination of Irish words ‘ór’ (gold) and ‘fhlaith’ (prince).

There are multiple spellings of this name - Orla, Orlagh, Orlaith, to name a few - but they are all pronounced the same.

This name has been consistently popular in Ireland for decades and it is common to meet people of all ages with this name.

Traditional Irish girl names

Irish and Celtic mythology is very important in the history and culture of Ireland, and it is where many of the names come from.

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.

Here are some popular traditional Irish girls names:

Áine (pronunciation: awn-yah)

Áine is a popular but traditional name for women and girls in Ireland. This name means ‘brilliance’ or ‘brightness’, and it is associated with the Celtic Goddess of wealth and summer.

This name is sometimes translated to English as Ann or Anna, but, in actuality, it is completely unrelated to either of those names.

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’.

Aoife was ranked at number 32 in the most common names for girls in Ireland in 2021, according to the Irish Central Statistics Office (cso.ie).

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 Cuchulain, 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 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 common girls’ 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 girls’ 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.

Modern Irish girl names

While many people are named after the ancient myths of Ireland, there are other Irish girls' names which have become popular much more recently.

These names may have older origins, but their popularity in recent years makes them truly modern.

Here are some lovely modern Irish girls names:

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 girls’ 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 more rare but equally lovely boys’ version of this name - Caoimhín.

Clodagh (pronunciation: cloh-dah)

Clodagh is a pretty Irish girls’ name which 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 which 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 top 10 baby names in Ireland (cso.ie); 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, and was the most common name for baby girls in Ireland in 2021 (cso.ie).

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.

Unique Irish Girls Names

Most of the names so far have been relatively common in Ireland, but there are also some names which are used much more rarely.

These unique Irish girls’ names are just as lovely as their more popular counterparts:

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 (2006), 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 are the equally lovely Bláthnaid or Bláthnat (blaw-nid).

Caoilfhionn (pronunciation: key-lin)

While the spelling of this Irish girl name might look complicated, its pronunciation is nice and simple.

The anglicized version of this name - Keelin - is slightly more common than the Irish spelling, but both are unique names for girls.

This name is 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 where the fada (accent) is. If spelled Liadán, the last syllable will be elongated to ‘dawn’. If spelled Líadan, there will be emphasis on the first syllable and the end will sound more like ‘din’.

Either way, this is a lyrical and unique Irish girls name.

Síomha (pronunciation: shee-va)

Síomha is a pretty Irish girls’ name, which is derived from the words ‘síth’ (peace) and ‘maith’ (good).

This is a medieval name, so dates back hundreds of years, but can still be heard occasionally in Ireland today.

Conclusion

As you can see, Irish girls’ names are diverse and fascinating in meaning.

While some might look complicated for those who don’t speak Irish, the lovely lyrical nature of the language makes them sound truly beautiful.

With this guide, you’re sure to impress the local women on your next trip to Ireland with your knowledge of their names!