10 Gorgeous Girls Names from Ireland
America loves Irish names right now: Liam, Aiden, Connor, they’ve been some of the biggest breakaway stars of the 21st century. But what about the girls? For some reason we don’t have quite the same appetite for Irish girls’ names… This can be partly put down to some of the frankly perplexing spelling and pronunciation quirks of the Irish language – Dearbhail is pronounced der-vul?! And where would most Americans even start with a name like Caoimhe?! Even still: there are plenty of pretty (and easy to pronounce!) girls’ names available for prospective parents to choose from, whether you want to honor your ancestral roots, cultural ties, fond holiday memories, or just looking for something a little different!
Nora Starting off with a name that is actually quite familiar to most Americans. Meaning ‘light’, this name is simple, unassuming, but packed full of character and flair. It’s been slowly but steadily rising up the ranks in recent years: last year, over 5500 little Noras were born, more than all the Kloes and Marys combined! But if you’re looking for something a little more unusual, then perhaps Nuala (NOO-la) is for you! The short form of Fionnuala, this lyrical Irish name sounds playful and fun.
Alva Meaning ‘white” in Irish Gaelic, this anglicized form is a lot less tricky than its original Ailbhe. Both forms are pronounced roughly the same, but to minimalize stress for countless American administrators, it’s probably better to go for Alva!
Evaleen Much simpler, softer and sweeter than the similar sounding comeback kid, Evangeline, Evaleen might be one to keep an eye on in the future. What’s more, it’s the Irish version of Evelyn: another name which has been making its mark in a big way over the last decade.
Kara This name has a number of different meanings in a number of different languages, but in Irish Gaelic, it means ‘friend’. In Ireland itself, the more popular spelling is Cara, but in the US, the preference is for Kara.
Cliona An extremely popular name in Ireland, Cliona has yet to find much of a following outside of its native land. Pronounced “CLEE-uh-na” or “CLEEN-a”, she’s considered by some to be the Celtic mythology equivalent to Aphrodite. She’s also associated with that most quintessentially Irish of customs: the Blarney Stone.
Rosaleen In the Irish language, -ín (or –een) is used as a diminutive, so Rosaleen is simply ‘little rose’. Other names with this ending such as Colleen and Eileen sound quite old-fashioned today, but Rosaleen is definitely an endearing and unique option for your little petal.
Brona Another popular name in its country of origin, Brona is the anglicized version of the more traditional Bronagh. She was an early Christian saint and mystic who – legend has it – was a disciple of the much more widely known, St. Patrick. It’s definitely a more unusual choice here in the states, but it could make a nice change to the more familiar Brianna.
Bree And while we’re on the subject of Brianna-alternatives, let’s not overlook Bree! This name is short and sweet and doesn’t carry any of the stuffiness of Brigid or Brid, the names from which it originally arose. It does, of course, have the potential to be directly (and possibly unfavorably) associated with the French variety of cheese, but we think the BREEzy nature of the name should dominate!
Maeve Not completely unheard of here in the States – last year 816 little Maeves were born – in Ireland the name is more likely to be written Meabh. Maeve was a beautiful and extremely powerful – and occasionally very ruthless – warrior queen in Irish mythology and later influenced a number of Irish poets and writers. Maeve (MAY-v) literally means ‘she who intoxicates’ and comes from the same ancient root word for mead.
Yseult Yseult or Iseult (ee-solt) are the Irish variants of Isolde, the Welsh tragic romantic heroine who became the subject of many great works of art, music and literature. This will definitely be a beautiful and unusual, though far from outlandish, choice.
… a final note
Thanks to the Gilmore Girls, the name Rory has shot up in popularity in the US for girls. Last year, baby boy Rorys outnumbered their female counterparts 2:1, but its continued growth in usage mean that it can now be very much considered a unisex name here in the US. But be warned: Rory, Aiden and Connor are all exclusively used as boys’ names in their homeland and in the UK, so be prepared for some possible confusion if you and your little one are travelling to the Emerald Isle!