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Unusual Irish Baby Names

Choosing a baby name can be one of the most fun elements of pregnancy – or one of the most daunting. There are so many to pick from, and narrowing down can be difficult. A modern Kayleigh or a vintage Violet? An unusual Fleur or a more familiar Rose? An up-to-the-minute Asher or a steady, 

And here in Ireland, we have an additional decision-making factor thrown in – will you go for an Irish name?

There are hundreds of beautiful Irish names that stand the test of time – classics like Aisling, Niamh, Ciara, Cian, Cillian and Liam are still appearing in junior infants’ class-rooms around the country every September.

But what if you want an Irish name that’s a little off the beaten track?

Here we’ve pulled together nine girls’ names and nine boys’ names – all Irish in origin, but not quite in the top ten lists:

Girls' names:

Tuiren

Pronounced Tir-en. Tuiren was the younger sister of Fionn Mac Cumhail’s mother, and was famed for her beauty.

Caireann

The diminutive of “Cara” (the Irish word for “friend), Caireann means “little friend or little beloved”.

Caoileann

Pronounced like Keelin, it comes from Caol, meaning “slender”, and Fionn meaning “white or fair”.

Etain

In Irish mythology, Etain was a beautiful fairy who was turned into a butterfly – she fell into a queen’s glass of wine (or milk in some versions) and was reborn a beautiful maiden.

Teagan

The Irish form of the Welsh name “Tegwin” or diminutive of Tadhg, meaning “beautiful”.

Iseult

Iseult, a mythological Irish princess, was en route to marry King Mark of Cornwall, when she drank a love potion and fell in love with King Mark’s nephew, Tristan. Other variations include Isolde and Yseult.

Fiadh

Pronounced Fia, meaning “wild” or “wild deer”

Líadan

In Irish mythology, Líadan was a poetess who became a nun; the name is also said to mean “Grey Lady”. A variation, Liadán, has the emphasis on the second syllable.

Síohmha

Pronounced “Shee-va”. From “Síth-maith” meaning “good peace”

Boys' names:

Lugh

Lugh was a Celtic Sun God, and father of Cú Chulainn. A variation of this is “Lughaidh”, pronounced like the French name “Louis”

Cuan

Cuan means “little wolf” or “little hound”

Ruadhán

Diminutive of “Ruadh”, meaning “red” or “red-haired”. An Irish saint-name, more frequently anglicized as Rowan.

Cabhan

Cabhan means “Grassy hill” or “hollow” and is of course, the Irish name for County Cavan.

Cumhal

Pronounced “Coo-al” (which may or may not lead to confusion with “cool”!). Cumhal was the father of well known hero of Irish folklore, Fionn Mac Cumhail

Conall

Conall means “strong wolf” or “friendship”. The name appears throughout Irish folklore; one particularly well-known Conall was a member of the Red Branch Knights, who avenged the death of Cuchulainn.

Quinn

Quinn is a familiar surname in Ireland, but it is becoming increasingly popular as a first-name (possibly aided by characters in Glee and Homeland)

Luan

Luan is an old Irish name meaning “warrior”, “strong” and “warlike”

Cael

Cael means “slender”, and in Irish mythology, Cael was a warrior and a member of Na Fianna. It could however be confused with US invented name “Kale” or with the green leafy vegetable…

So there you have it – just some of the more unusual Irish names that are out there today. If you do choose a less than common Irish name, make sure to check the meaning, check for the correct spelling, and check for the correct pronunciation (there may be more than one).

And remember that you are opening your child up to a lifetime of explaining – for better or for worse. Some see an unusual name as a burden, while others see it as a conversation opener – especially if there’s an interesting story behind it.

Just make sure to do that background check – “Balor” for example might sound like a fairly innocuous name from Celtic mythology, one that ticks both the “Irish” and “unusual” boxes. Until you find out he was the demonic god of death. Maybe stick with Liam after all.

Let us know which of these names is your favourite in the comments section below!

About the Author

Andrea Mara, a freelance writer, blogger, and mum of three.

Follow her blog at www.officemum.ie

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