Odhran, Oran , Orin
PRONOUCE: “o + ran” or “o + rin”
ENGLISH: Odran (pron. “ode + ran”)
DESCRIPTION: All variants of odhra meaning “dark haired.” Seventeen saints have used the name and Odhran, abbot of Meath, was one of the 12 devotees who accompanied St. Columba to Iona. When he died soon after their arrival Columba saw Odhran’s soul ascending to heaven following a battle between angels and devils. Another Odhran was the charioteer of St. Patrick.
PRONOUCE: “osh + een”
DESCRIPTION: The son of the legendary warrior Fionn Mac Cool (read the legend) and the goddess Sive. His mother was turned into a deer by the Dark Druid and she reared him in the forest until he was seven years old. When Fionn was out hunting he found the child and recognising him as his son, gave him the name oisin”little deer.” He is best remembered for his love for “Niamh of the Golden Hair” with whom he spent 300 years in Tir-na-nOg, (“Land of Eternal Youth”) (read the legend). (Read the legend of Oisin and Niamh.) A very popular name again in Ireland.
PRONOUCE: “paw + drig” or “paw + rik”
DESCRIPTION: From the Latin patricius “nobly born.” The patron saint of Ireland, it is hard to differentiate between fact and myth. What is probably true is that he was born in Britain around 373 AD and was brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of seven, possibly by Niall of the Nine Hostages (read the legend). Forced to guard sheep on the Slemish Mountains in Country Antrim for six years he had a vision urging him to convert his captors. He escaped to France where he trained as a priest before returning to Ireland where he banished the snakes (i.e. paganism) and converted the population to Christianity. Both Patrick and Padraig are very popular names in Ireland.
PRONOUCE: “pad + ar”
DESCRIPTION: Irish form of Peter and thus comes ultimately from Greek petros”the rock,” it is still in common use in Ireland today.
Pearse, Pearce , Pierce
DESCRIPTION: Comes from the Norman French name “Piers” and is still very popular as it is given to honor Patrick Pearse, one of the leaders of the Easter Rising of 1916 when Ireland won its independence from England.
PRONOUCE: “pron + she + iss”
DESCRIPTION: The Irish form of Francis, a name originating from the figure of St. Francis of Assisi. The name means “little French man” and was popularised in Ireland by the Franciscans whose founder was St. Francis of Assisi. The Celts would have been responsive to the stories of St. Francis’s attitude to birds and animals.
Quinlan, Quilan , Quinlivan
DESCRIPTION: A surname, now an increasingly popular as a given name. From caoindealbhain meaning “gently-shaped, athletic.”
DESCRIPTION: A variant of the name ceann meaning “intelligent,” Quinn is the most common surname in County Tyrone in Northern Ireland and is increasingly used as a given name. As traditional quartermasters to the O’Neills, the kings of Ulster for over four centuries, Quinns were responsible for arms and provisions in both war and peace.
DESCRIPTION: An Irish version of the Germanic ragan + mund “counsellor, protector.” Particularly popular in Northern Ireland where Redmond O’Hanlon was a charismatic outlaw, the Irish “Robin Hood.” He was born about 1623 in Country Armagh where his father owned seven townlands. During the Cromwellian settlement their estate was taken over by the English. Redmond, his three brothers and a band of about 50 followers took to the hills. Known as “Rapparees,” they were the terror of those who had confiscated the Irish lands and avenged some of the wrongs inflicted upon their peasant neighbors. On Douglas Bridge I met a man Who lived adjacent to Strabane, Before the English hung him high For riding with O’Hanlon. (From the “Ballad of Douglas Bridge” by Francis Carlin.)
PRONOUCE: “rye + lee”
DESCRIPTION: Meaning “courageous, valiant.” A surname in Ireland that can be used as a given name.
PRONOUCE: “reer + don”
DESCRIPTION: From ri “king” and bardan “poet” it means “royal poet.” In Irish tradition the poet was very highly regarded in any royal household as he acted as scholar, historian and advisor to the king.
PRONOUCE: “ro + nan”
DESCRIPTION: From ron “a seal.” Legend tells of a seal who is warned never to stray too close to the land. When the “seal child” is swept ashore by a huge wave, she becomes trapped in a human form, known as a “Selkie” or “seal maiden.” Although she lives as the wife of a fisherman and bears him children, known as “ronans” or “little seals,” she never quite loses her “sea-longing.” Eventually she finds the “seal-skin” which the fisherman has hidden and slips back into the ocean. But she can’t forget her husband and children and can even be seen swimming close to the shore, keeping a watchful eye on them.
PRONOUCE: “ro + ree”
DESCRIPTION: From rua + ri meaning “red king, great king.” Rory O’Connor, the last High King of Ireland was forced to abdicate the throne in 1175.
PRONOUCE: “shay + muss”
DESCRIPTION: The Irish version of James. Many well-known Irishmen have been called Seamus including the 1995 Nobel poet laureate Seamus Heaney. The Nobel prize in Literature was awarded for his “works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past.”
DESCRIPTION: Irish form of John meaning “God’s gracious gift.” Shane is a very popular variant of the name in Northern Ireland in memory of Shane O’Neill whose forces won notable victories over the armies of Queen Elizabeth 1st in the sixteenth century.
PRONOUCE: “ti + gue”
DESCRIPTION: Irish name meaning “a poet” or “a philosopher.” In one legend, at the Battle of Clontarf (read the legend) in 1014 Tadhg Mór(“Big Tadhg”) O’Kelly is reported to have fought “like a wolf dog” before he was overcome by the Vikings and killed. When he fell a ferocious animal came from the ocean to protect the dead body of the chieftain until it was retrieved by his O’Kelly kinsmen. “A most extraordinary creature, it had the head of a fox, the chest of an elephant, the mane of a horse, the forelegs of an eagle, the body and hind legs of a hound and the tail of a lion.”
PRONOUCE: “teer + nee”
DESCRIPTION: Meaning “lord, chief” and implies “lord of the household.” A sixth-century saint, Tierney of Clones had the privilege of being baptized by St. Conleth of Kildare with St. Brigid as his godmother. As a young man he was captured by pirates and taken to the British king who placed him in the monastery of Rosnat in England. He later returned to Ireland and became Bishop of Clogher in County Down.
PRONOUCE: “toh + moss”
DESCRIPTION: The Irish form of Thomas, a biblical name meaning “twin.”
PRONOUCE: “tur + la”
DESCRIPTION: From an Irish name meaning “one who aids or assists.” It is usually translated as Terence and Terry, two names that have become strongly associated with Ireland. Turlough O’Carolan was a 17th century blind harpist and composer who wrote one of the most haunting pieces of Irish music, “O’Carolan’s Concerto.”
PRONOUCE: “ult + in”
DESCRIPTION: Means, simply, “an Ulsterman.” There have been eighteen saints named Ultan, the best-known being St. Ultan of Ardbraccan, (c. 650 AD). Noted for his care of orphans, the poor and the sick he is regarded as the patron saint of children and a hospital for sick children in Dublin is named in his honor.