From Patrick to Sean to 2013 favorite Liam, Irish boys' names have been popular in the U.S. for centuries. In honor of St. Patrick's Day, we've compiled a list of popular boy names in Ireland that may soon climb the baby name charts stateside.
Olympic equestrian Cian O'Connor
Pronounced KEE-an, Cian ranks just outside the top 10, at number 11 on the Irish 100 Most Popular Boys' Names list. It was the name of several ancient legendary figures, including the father of Lugh, the sun god. Possible cheat: Spelling it Kean.
Singer Oisin Leech
Pronounced osh-SHEEN, and meaning fawn, Oisin was the mythological son of the great hero Fionn mac Cumhaill, aka Finn MacCool, and was himself a legendary warrior and poet, living with his lover, Niamh, for 300 years. The name has a nice shiny feel and an evocative tie to Ocean. Also seen as Ossian, this could join the other trending O-boy names.
Paralympic swimmer Darragh McDonald
Pronounced DARR-eh, this is another currently popular name in the Emerald Isle. Its gentle sound would fit right in with the new softer feel of boys’ names.
Actor Cillian Murphy
Pronounced as Killian, a spelling that is also now popular in Ireland and number 766 in the U.S., Cillian has become recognizable in this country via the versatile blue-eyed actor Cillian Murphy. It’s also the name of a number of Irish saints.
Fionn mac Cumhaill aka Finn MacCool
Pronounced more FYUHN than the Anglicized Finn, this is the authentic spelling of the name of Ireland’s greatest ancient hero. We wouldn’t blame you if you preferred the Finn spelling -- which has been chosen by several celebs and is now number 250 on the U.S. list and twelfth on Nameberry -- it has a strong possibility of giving Liam a run for its money!
Author Eoin Colfer
Though Eoin is, like Sean, a Gaelic form of John, its pronunciation is closer to Owen, as is another name on the Irish pop list, Eoghan. Eoin is somewhat known here via the author of the Artemis Fowl books, Eoin Colfer. It has been popular in Ireland since the earliest days of Christianity.
Actor Kyle MacLachlan named his son Callum.
No pronunciation help needed here. Though a top name in Ireland, Callum actually has Scottish origins, and means dove. It is number 787 on the U.S. list, number 50 on Nameberry, and was used by actor Kyle MacLachlan for his son. The purely Irish version is Colm.
"Footballer" Tadhg Kennelly
Pronounced TYEg, this is an ancient name belonging to several kings and princes, including the son of Brian Boru, as well as a saint. If you think its tricky pronunciation could cause playground problems for an American boy, there’s always the Anglicized version -- Teague.
This user-friendly Irish appellation has already climbed to number 454 in the U.S., and is a Nameberry fave at number 40 -- a little higher than it is in Ireland. A Harry Potter name, Ronan was also borne by twelve saints, and was used by Daniel Day Lewis and Rebecca Miller, and by Catherine Bell, and is the name of journalist Ronan Farrow (born Satchel). A good bet to keep moving up.
Author Cormac McCarthy
Though it has yet to make the U.S. top 1000, Cormac seems to be another good candidate to pass the entrance exam. Familiar via acclaimed novelist Cormac McCarthy (born Charles), it’s a traditional Irish name with many intriguing Celtic mythological associations.
Chef Cathal Armstrong
Pronounced KA-hal -- the "t" is silent -- this was the name of a 7th century saint and several ancient Irish kings. It was popular in the Middle Ages and still ranks at number 56 in Ireland. The alternate spelling Cahal makes pronunciation easier -- or you could revert to the English translation: Charles.
Niall Horan from One Direction
This name of a fourth century King of Tara known as Niall of the Nine Hostages is pronounced as ny-all, close to the English Neil/Neal, and somehow appearing a lot cooler than that Dad name. One of the One Direction boys is Niall Horan.
Actor Ciaran Hinds
Pronounced KEER-in, Ciaran was the name of 26 saints in Ireland. It is known here through Harry Potter and actor Ciaran Hinds, who played Aberforth Dumbledore. It’s not on the national list, though phonetic spelling Kieran is at number 557; Kieran was chosen by Julianna Margulies for her son.