Modern Irish Names




These names have been used in Ireland, or in the USA for the past century or so. They are not traditional in the sense that their historical roots don't stretch back very far. However, some of them are quite common now, or have been in the past.

If you haven't done so already, non-Irish speakers please see the the pronunciation guide.
name pronunciation notes
Aisling ASH ling, ASH leeng Gaelic word for 'dream, vision'. It is also a type of poem where Ireland is portrayed as a beautiful girl in peril. ssIt's first use as a name came in Gaelic Revival (late 1800s).
Aislynn, Azlin, Acelin, Icelynn etc. Variety of ways, usually AZE lin, ACE lin or ICE lin In the USA, this name has been cropping up since the dawn of the 21st century. It is a phonetic mispronunciation of the name Aislinn /ASH lin/. The spellings are determined by how the person interpreted Aislinn to be pronounced in English.
Alannah, Alana a LON a from the Irish term of affection a leanbh ('my child'), this name is also used as a feminine form of Alan.
Annalivia an na LIV ee a coined by author James Joyce, this name is based on Abha Life, the Irish name of the River Liffey that runs through Dublin.
Ashlyn, Ashlynn ASH lin Probably a blend of the popular name Ashley and popular suffix -lyn. Some regard this as an anglicization of Aislinn/Aisling (see also), but it is probably an independent coinage.
Brandon BRAN dun An Anglicization used for Breandán sometimes, this name actually comes from the English meaning "beacon-fire hill."
Brenna BREN a American feminine of the name surname Brennan, used as a first name.
Brianna bree ON a, Bree AN a modern invention as a feminine of Brian. Used mainly in the USA. The name Briana, pronounced BREE uh na, was coined by Edmund Spenser for his 16th century book the Faerie Queen.
Caitlin, Katelyn KATE lynn An English phonetic pronunciation of the Irish name Caitlín, this name is extremely popular in the USA and Australia.
Cashel, Cashlin CASH ul, CASH lin, CASH leen Spelled Caiseal and Caislín in Irish, these are place names in Ireland meaning "Castle" and "little castle."
Cara CAR a, CARE a The Irish word for 'friend,' this name has been gaining in popularity. It's also the Italian word for 'dear.'
Ceol K'YOLE The Irish vocabulary word for "music," this was used as a name by Edele Lynch a musician in the band B*Witched.
Ciara KEE a ra modern feminine of the name Ciarán. Elaboration of the name Ciar. In the USA, it is also sometimes an alternate spelling of Sierra, or pronounced see-ARE-a, a name of a popular fragrance of perfume. The name of the fragrance was coined after Ceres, the Roman goddess of the harvest.
Clodagh KLO da the name of a river in Tipperary, 1st used as a name by the Marquis of Waterford for his daughter. Popular in Ireland ever since.
Colleen coll EEN From the Irish word cailín meaning 'girl,' this word was coined as a name for an American film star in the 1920's. It is not used in Ireland today, but was very popular in the USA in past decades. It is also the slang term for an Irish woman in Britain, and used as a slang term sometimes for a country woman in Ireland.
Dana DAN a (not Day-na-that's a whole different name) a modern form of the name of the Celtic goddess Anu. This name has been popularized recently by the Northern Irish singer Dana (b. Rosemary Scanlon)
Darby DAR bee This is an English name that came to Ireland in the 16th century. It became associated with Ireland thanks to the 1959 Disney film Darby O'Gill and the Little People and the books it was based on by British author Herminie Templeton Kavanagh (1861-1933)
Duana DOO uh na This is a form of the Irish word duan, meaning "poem" or "song."
Einín EH neen This is a recent coinage based on the word ean, meaning "bird". Ean+ ín makes this name mean "little bird."
Eireen eye REEN This name is probably just a more "Irish" spelling of the Greek name Irene, meaning "peace." However, it could also be thought to be a compound of Éire ("Ireland") and the suffix ín ("een", a diminutive implying "little").
Erin EH rin poetic name for Ireland. Used mostly in the USA, Canada and Australia, however, it is gaining popularity in Ireland and other English-speaking countries.
Fainne FAN ya Irish word for 'ring,' used after Gaelic Revival. A circular brooch was traditionally worn during this period to show the wearer was an active Irish speaker. This gave the name an extra dimension.
Fiona fee OH na This is probably the name I get e-mails about the most! Many consider this name "quintessentially Irish." However, it was actually the invention of the 18th-century Scottish author, James MacPherson. He coined this name as a feminine form of the legendary name Fionn. To do this, he stuck the common Latinate ending -a onto the name Fionn, and dropped one "n". In Gaelic, unlike Latin (and other European languages), names do not become feminine simply by adding "a." In fact, there were already in existence a few feminine forms of Fionn: Fionnseach, Fionnait and Fionnacht. Coincidentally, the word fiona, pronounced FEE uh na, is the modern Scottish Gaelic word for "wine" (coming from the Latin vineus, meaning "vine") Fiona became popular in Scotland and England in the late 19th century as a result of the author William Sharpe using the pen name Fiona MacLeod.
Fírinne FEER in yeh From the Irish word for 'truth,' this name was also coined during the Gaelic Revival.
Gael GALE Probably a spelling of Gale/Gail that was influenced by the word Gael, the Celtic tribe from which the irish are descended, according to legend.
Gloria GLO ree a Gloria is the Latin vocabulary word for 'glory.' It was first used as a name in 1898 by the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw for his play You Never Can Tell.
Imogen, Imogene IM o gen This name was coined by William Shakespeare, for his play Cymbaline. It is a misspelling, or misrepresentation of a Celtic name, recorded as Innogen. Perhaps it comes from the Irish Gaelic word inighean meaning "daughter."
Juno JOO no Juno was used as an anglicization of Úna at one point; was used by Sean O'Casey for his play Juno and the Paycock.
Juverna joo VER na, yoo VER na from a Latin name for Ireland, this name was used sparingly after the Gaelic Revival in the late 1800s.
Kayla KAY la Kayla is not actually an Irish name, but a lot of baby name books and websites list it as such. It is sometimes listed as a short form of McKayla, which is reported to be "the Irish form of Michaela"-- as someone who has been researching names for 3+ decades, this makes me really sad. Kayla is a 20th century invention. Though it has been around since at least the 1940s, it didn't gain popularity until the 1980s with the character of Kayla Brady on the US soap opera Days of Our Lives. Kayla is most likely a modern invention, adding -la to the name Kay. McKayla is a respelling of Michaela that popped up in the late 20th century following the popularity of the names Mackenzie and Kayla.
Kaylee KAY lee This is not derived from the Irish word céilí, as some people think, although this assumption has probably contributed to the name's popularity. It is more likely a modern combination of the names Kay and Lee, based on popular names like Hayley and Kayla. You can also find the spellings Kayleigh, Cailey, Caeli, Keighli...we've counted about 57 different possible spellings for this name.
Kaylin, Kailyn, Calen, Caelon etc. KAY lin

This name was coined in the mid-late 20th century, probably as a variant of Katelyn. Baby name books often list it as Irish, but it's basically a made-up name. Although the Irish word for "girl" (see Colleen) is cailín, that probably is more a coincidence that has contributed to the popularity of the name, rather than the origin. In spellings like Kaylon, Kaelan etc. it is often found on boys, probably as a variant of Jaylin, Kaden etc... 2-syllable names ending with -n with a long A sound are very "in" right now.

Keely, Keeley KEE lee from an Irish surname meaning "slender."
Kerry KEH ree, KAIR ee This comes from Ciarraí, the name of an Irish county. The original name comes from ciar, the Irish word for "black." 
Kyla KY la Sometimes though to be an anglicization of the man's name Cadhla, this name is more likely to have been coined as a feminine form of Kyle, based on the popularity of other K sounding names such as Kayla and Kylie.
Kyle KYL or KY ull Kyle could come either from the Gaelic coill meaning "woods", or a Scottish place name meaning "narrow." This name is more common in Scotland, where is is also a place name and a surname, than in Ireland.
Kylie KY lee Australians will tell you this is from an aboriginal word meaning "boomerang." Others swear this is an Irish name. It can be thought of as a feminine form of Kyle, or a form of the Irish surname Ó Cadhla, which comes from a name meaning "graceful." It usually is anglicized Kiely or Kiley in that context, though.
Lia, Liath LEE a the use of the Irish word liath meaning "grey" as a name.
Loinnir LUN ir the Irish vocabulary word for 'brightness, radiance,' Róisín McAliskey used this name for her daughter.
McKenna, Kenna muh KEN uh this name is common in the USA. It's popularity stems from the fact that it sounds a bit like the popular Hebrew derived name Michaela, often misspelled McKayla, and the popular Scottish surname name Mackenzie. McKenna is a surname meaning 'son of Cionnaith' [name of disputed origin]. This also helps it catch the trend of giving children surnames as first names. Also spelled Makenna, Mckenna, Mackenna etc.
McKinley, Kinley, McKenley, Kenley muh KIN lee, KEN lee etc. Like McKenna, this name came to popularity in the late 20th century, following on the heels of names like Mackenzie and Michaela. McKinley is usually a Scottish anglicization of Mac Fhionnlaoich, but can also be an anglicization of the Irish Mac an Leagha ("doctor"). (Mc)Kenley can be a form of this, but also may be a form of Ó Cinnfhaolaidh (ceann "head" + faol "wolf), Ó Conghaile ("brave or fierce as a hound/wolf") or Ó Coingheallaigh ("faithful to pledges/hostages").
Meaghan, Megan MEG in, MAY gun, MEE gun The name Megan is originally a Welsh pet form of Margaret. It has been mistaken as an Irish name ever since the Australian author Colleen McCullough used Meghann for her Irish main character in the novel The Thorn Birds. Megan is sometimes 'Irishized' with the spellings Meaghan, Meeghan etc. For those who insist that Megan is Irish, and there are many militant pro-Irish-Megan Irish-Americans out there, There is an obscure Irish surname, Meegan. However, this name has usually been found as Meehan in this century. Megan and friends have been very popular in the USA since the 1970s, and are gaining popularity in the UK, Australia & Ireland.
Nelda, Neila, Nelia NEL da, NEE la Modern feminine forms of the name Neil
Nóinín NO neen Irish word for 'daisy.' It was sometimes used as a pet form of Nora. Because of this, Nora is sometimes anglicized "Daisy."
Nollaig NULL ig Irish word for "Christmas." This name has been very popular in this century for Irish girls and boys. It is often translated as Noel.
Orinthia or IN thee a a name invented by George Bernard Shaw for his 1929 play the Apple Cart .
Réaltán, Réaltín RAYL tawn, RAYL teen Modern coinage based on réal, the Irish word for 'star.' This name would mean 'little star.' Equivalent of the Latin Stella.
Riley, Rylee, Reilly RY lee This is confusing two surnames; the English Riley, which means "rye field" and the Irish Ó Raghaillaigh, which has an unknown meaning. The latter is more often anglicized Reilly.
Saoirse SEER sha, sometimes SAYR sha Irish word for 'freedom.' This has become popular in Ireland in recent years.
Shaina, Shauna, Shawna, Shanna SHANE a, SHAUN a Modern feminine forms of Seán. Shauna is the most popular spelling in Ireland.
Shane SHANE Anglicization of the name Seán.
Shannon SHAN nin A river in SW Ireland and a surname, as well as Ireland's international airport, this name has been popular for both boys and girls in the USA, Britain and Canada for some time. It's been getting very popular in Ireland in recent years for both girls and boys.
Síofra SHEE fra This is a vocabulary word meaning "sprite", "changeling" and is also the term for a precocious child. It has been used in recent years for girls in Ireland.
Sterrin STAIR in, STEH rin this name was created by the novelist Beatrice Coogan in her novel The Big Wind. It is a shortened form of the phrase "Blawna Stherrim," (In Irish, Bláthna Shteirm ) which means 'flower of the storm.' Thanks to J.F. Klein of the Netherlands for bringing this name to my attention.
Tara TAR a, TARE a Although the Hill of Tara is the traditional Seat of Kings in Ireland, Tara was not widely used as a name until the 20th century. It was occasionally found on men in Ireland. In the 1940s it became more popular for girls in the USA with the rise of the movie Gone With The Wind in which the plantation is named Tara.
Taryn TAR in A name invented by actors Tyrone Power and Linda Christian for their daughter. This name is also thought of as an American elaboration of the name Tara.
Vanessa va NESS a a name invented by Irish satirist Jonathan Swift in honor of Esther Vanhomrigh, a woman with whom his connection is not entirely clear.