PRONOUCE: “ey + nit”
DESCRIPTION: The feminine of the name Aidan meaning “little fire.”
PRONOUCE: “ave + leen”
DESCRIPTION: A name thought to have Norman roots that means “wished-for” or “longed-for child.”
PRONOUCE: “ab + rawn”
DESCRIPTION: Aibreann is April in the Irish language.
PRONOUCE: “ay + deen”
DESCRIPTION: Formed like Aidan from aed “fire.” Aideen loved her husband Oscar, a grandson of Fionn Mac Cool (read the legend), so much that when he fell in battle she died of a broken heart.
PRONOUCE: “all + bay”
DESCRIPTION: From an old Irish word meaning “white,” the 6th century St. Ailbe was associated with the monastery at Emly in County Tipperary. The local people requested that he bless a river that had no fish. St. Ailbe did and that very day the river was filled with an abundance of fish. The people built five churches in St. Ailbe’s honor at the best fishing spots along the river. Ailbe may be used for a boy or a girl.
PRONOUCE: “ay + leen”
DESCRIPTION: Ancient Irish name from ail “noble.”
Ailis, Ailish, Eilis, Eilish
PRONOUCE: “ay + lish”
DESCRIPTION: Irish version of the Norman Alice or Alicia from Elizabeth “God is my oath.”
PRONOUCE: “awn + ye”
DESCRIPTION: Ancient Irish name from the noun aine that means “splendor, radiance, brilliance.” Aine is connected with fruitfulness and prosperity. The queen of the Munster fairies was called Aine as was one of the wives of Fionn Mac Cool (read the legend). Aine appears in folktales as “the best-hearted woman who ever lived – lucky in love and in money.”
Alannah, Alanna, Alana
PRONOUCE: “a + lan + a”
DESCRIPTION: Adding a to leanbh, the word for “child” in Irish, brings a sense of warmth – “O child” or “darling child.” A favored name in Ireland with all three spellings.
PRONOUCE: “eve + een”
DESCRIPTION: aoibhinn “pleasant, beautiful sheen, of radiant beauty.” Often interpreted as “little Eve.” One Aoibheann was the mother of St. Enda of Aran who died c. 530 AD.
PRONOUCE: “ee + fa”
DESCRIPTION: “beautiful, radiant, joyful.” Known as the greatest woman warrior in the world, Aoife was the mother of Cuchulainn’s (read the legend) only son, Connlach. Aoife Dearg (“Red Aoife”) was a daughter of a king of Connacht who had her marriage arranged by St. Patrick himself. In 2003 Aoife was the third most popular Irish girls name for babies in Ireland.
Ashling, Aislin, Aislinn
PRONOUCE: “ash + ling”
DESCRIPTION: From aislinge which means “a vision” or “a dream,” Aisling is the name given to a popular poetic genre from the 17th and 18th centuries in which Ireland is personified as a beautiful woman in peril. A very popular name in Ireland now.
PRONOUCE: “be + veen”
DESCRIPTION: A blend of bean “woman, lady” and finn “fair, white” originally described Viking women. Brian Boru‘s (read the legend) mother was called Beibhinn and he named his daughter for her. In legend, the golden-haired giantess Beibhinn sought sanctuary with Fionn Mac Cool (read the legend) so she would not have to marry the giant “Hugh The Splendid.”
PRONOUCE: “blaw + nid”
DESCRIPTION: blath means “flower, blossom.” In legend, Blaithnaid, the reluctant wife of Curai Mac Daire, loved Cuchulainn (read the legend), her husband’s rival. She revealed the secret entrance to her husband’s fortress to him by milking her cow and letting the milk run down the hill into a stream. Cuchulainn followed the stream, raided the fortress and rescued Blathnaid.
PRONOUCE: “bran + na”
DESCRIPTION: From bran “raven,” a way of saying “beauty with hair as dark as a raven.”
PRONOUCE: “bree + a + na”
DESCRIPTION: “noble, virtuous.” The feminine of Brian.
PRONOUCE: “bridge + id”
DESCRIPTION: The name Brigid from brigh meaning “power, vigour, virtue” epitomizes the Irish genius for layering old and new. The main female deity of the Celts, Brigid made the land fruitful and animals multiply, she blessed poets and blacksmiths. Her namesake St. Brigid of Kildare carried her powers into the Christian era. The stories of Brigid”s compassion and miracles are told now as they have been for more than 1500 years in every part of Ireland. She is equal in esteem and shares a grave with St. Patrick and St. Columcille. Her feast day, February 1st, is the first day of Spring in the Celtic calender.
PRONOUCE: “bro + nah”
DESCRIPTION: Though rooted in bronach “sad, sorrowful” St. Bronagh must have been a popular figure in her home area of County Down where her bell is venerated because so many girls in that area are named for her now as they have been for over 1000 years.
Caireann, Cairenn, Ciaran
PRONOUCE: “care + in”
DESCRIPTION: From the Gaelic cara + the diminutive -in meaning “little friend or little beloved.” Caireann Chasdubh (“Cairenn of the Dark Curly Hair”) was the mother of the legendary warrior Niall of the Nine Hostages (read the legend) and thus was the maternal ancestor of the high kings of Ireland.
Caitlin or Cathleen
PRONOUCE: “koit + leen” “kath + leen”
DESCRIPTION: Devotion to St. Catherine came to Ireland with Christianity. Revered for her courage and purity, Catherine in the Irish form, Cathleen, became such a popular name that W. B. Yeats chose it for the heroine of his 1899 play “The Countess Cathleen” which was inspired by an Irish folktale. In a time of famine the Devil offers food to the starving poor in exchange for their souls. But Cathleen convinces Satan to take her soul instead. When she dies the Devil comes to collect her soul but God intervenes and carries Cathleen to heaven, saying that “such a sacrificial act cannot justly lead to evil consequences.”
PRONOUCE: “kay + linn”
DESCRIPTION: caol “slender” and fionn “white, fair, pure.” Several saints were Caoilainn and one was described as “a pious lady who quickly won the esteem and affection of her sister nuns by her exactness to every duty, as also by her sweet temper, gentle, confiding disposition and unaffected piety.”
PRONOUCE: “kee + va”
DESCRIPTION: From caomh “gentle, beautiful, precious.” The same root as Kevin, the name has become very popular in Ireland with the original Irish spelling. In 2003 it was the twelfth most popular Irish girl name for baby girls.
Cara, Caragh or Caera
PRONOUCE: “car + a” “keer + a”
DESCRIPTION: In Irish cara simply means a “friend.”
DESCRIPTION: From cas “curly-haired.” The Cassidys were the hereditary physicians to the Maguires, the chiefs of County Fermanagh between 1300 and 1600. As their healing skills became widely known, many Cassidys were employed by other chieftans, particularly in the north of the country.
PRONOUCE: “ka + tree + na”
DESCRIPTION: An Irish form of Catherine that derives from an older Greek name meaning “clear, pure.” (See also Caitlin.)
PRONOUCE: “kee + ra”
DESCRIPTION: The feminine form of Ciaran, from the Irish ciar meaning “dark” and implies “dark hair and brown eyes.” St. Ciara was a distinguished seventh-century figure who established a monastery at Kilkeary in County Tipperary. It was the fourth most popular baby girl name in Ireland in 2003.
DESCRIPTION: A medieval name derived from Latin clarus “clear, bright, famous.” St. Claire, a follower of St. Francis of Assisi, who left her wealthy family to found the order of nuns known as the “Poor Clares,” has always been very respected in Ireland and the name is still popular today.
PRONOUCE: “klee + ona”
DESCRIPTION: From clodhna meaning “shapely.” Cliodhna had three magical birds that could sing the sick to sleep and cure them. In the tale of “Cliodhna’s Wave” she falls in love with a mortal, “Keevan of the Curling Locks,” and leaves Tir-Na-Nog (“Land of Eternal Youth”) (read the legend) with him but when he goes off to hunt, leaving her on the beach, she is swept to sea by a great wave, leaving her lover desolate.
PRONOUCE: “clo + da”
DESCRIPTION: The river Clody runs through County Tipperary and County Wexford and like most Irish rivers is named for a local female deity. Rivers become places for prayer and Clodagh is a popular name in this part of the country.