Irish names

I am Irish, but don’t live in [name]Ireland[/name], and I think that many of their names are absolutely beautiful. Many of my family are very well versed in Gaelic, so names such as [name]Niamh[/name], [name]Siobhan[/name] (though these are more commonplace now) , [name]Aoife[/name] and [name]Caoimhe[/name] aren’t a problem for them, but would your average person be completely confused? As a [name]Rebekah[/name] who has had many…interesting…variations of my name in [name]Christmas[/name] cards over the years, I’m not sure I’d want my girl spelling her name constantly, even if it was lovely. What do you all think? Any particular favourite Gaelic names? Thanks- Bekah x

If it helps, I’m a [name]Rebecca[/name] (with a [name]German[/name]-Scottish hyphenated surname) who has totally Gaelophile naming taste: my daughter is [name]Sorcha[/name] ("[name]Clarity[/name]"). Names on our list included [name]Saoirse[/name] (rejected for political reasons), Ceibhionn, [name]Orlaith[/name], Seanait, Eibhleann, Aoibheall, Bronagh, [name]Ruaidhri[/name], Criofan, and Caisel.

It helps, of course, that my phd is in Irish history, so most people in our circles have at least a passing familiarity with Gaelic names and pronunciation. We’ve had to correct people a few times (is that “SORSHA”, “SORKA”, or “SOR-a-KHA”?), but it’s not a huge deal.

For me, using an Irish name rooted in history and tradition was an important reflection both of my heritage and my passion for history, as well as the place where my husband and I have cherished memories. Those are things we want to “pass on” to our daughter and future children, and their names are a great symbolic way to do that.

Good luck with your naming journey. Slainte!

I live in Northern [name]Ireland[/name], so while I’m not terribly well-versed in Gaelic, I’ve grown up seeing plenty of Irish names and would feel comfortable recognising them - and if I hadn’t seen them before, I’ve yet to make a wrong guess! I also have a real Gaelophile naming taste, but unfortunately even now, using Gaelic names can be a little risky here, especially if, like me, you’re British and not Irish. (Yes, my country is messed up, lol!)

Favourite Irish names of mine would be easily recognised (at least where I live): [name]Orlaith[/name], [name]Ciara[/name], [name]Saoirse[/name] (although like punkprincessphd above, I could never use it due to political reasons, especially with its associations here in N. [name]Ireland[/name]), Eilean”ra, and [name]Maeve[/name], but a few weeks ago I first heard the name Cobhlaith (“cove-la”), which I thought was just beautiful! Friends of mine struggled with the pronunciation, though, but I thought it was just lovely :slight_smile:


Mairin (although I like the Anglicized pronunciation, sorry!)


I agree - after 7 years in Belfast, many of my friends expressed a worry that Gaelic names would “mark” their child as belonging to one community. But there is also a desire not to let so many wonderful names be appropriated exclusively by those with a particular political agenda. Despite my expertise as a political historian, I’m still surprized at how political the question of Gaelic names can get there!

Also, just wanted to say how much I love Cobhlaith. It makes me think of Cobh in [name]Cork[/name] - I get a “harbour” feeling when I read it or say it aloud. Beautiful choice :slight_smile:


@punkprincessphd -

You’re exactly right - I live about 15 miles away from Belfast, and coming from a mixed family background in terms of communities, whatever names I might choose someone won’t be happy, lol! It is an awful shame that so many beautiful names are being avoided because they’re associated with a particular community, but I suppose that’s just life here. It’s just difficult to believe that even now in a time of relative peace, it’s still a problem - whether you use Gaelic names or British names such as [name]William[/name] or [name]George[/name], you’re also seen to be making somewhat of a statement! It’s crazy, and the limitiation of the name pool is incredibly frustrating!

And Cobhlaith is a beautiful name, isn’t it? I always think of little marinas and boats too, it’s just the prettiest connotation :slight_smile:


[name]Finola[/name] /[name]Fionnuala[/name]
[name]Tuilelaith[/name] / [name]Tallula[/name]