PRONOUCE: “daw + veen”
DESCRIPTION: From damh “deer” and the diminutive -in it means “little deer.”
PRONOUCE: “dar + rawn”
DESCRIPTION: Meaning “fruitful, bountiful.” In legend, Daireann, a beautiful young woman, fell in love with Fionn Mac Cool (read the legend), a man with many wives. She asked to be his only wife for a year – and then to have the half of his time after that.
DESCRIPTION: In Irish dorcha means “dark, dark-haired” or “descendant of the dark one.” Both a surname and a given name.
Dearbhail, Dearbhal or Deirbhile
PRONOUCE: “dare + voll” “dare + villa”
DESCRIPTION: From der + fal “daughter of Fal,” “Fal” being an ancient name for Ireland.
PRONOUCE: “deck + tir + ra”
DESCRIPTION: Dechtire was the sister of Conchubar and the mother of Cuchulainn (read the legend). deich means ten and perhaps she was the tenth child. The fairies, “Sive” in Irish, transformed her into a bird but at times she was able to be a woman again and conceived Cuchulainn with the sun-god Lugh.
PRONOUCE: “deer + dre” or “dare + dreh”
DESCRIPTION: The most beautiful woman in ancient Ireland, she was bethrothed to the High King Conchobhar Mac Nessa but she fell in love with his nephew Naoise. Deirdre and Naoise eloped to Scotland where they lived a blissful exile for many years. By offering forgiveness, Conchobhar tricked them into returning to Ulster where Naoise was slain by the jealous Conchobhar. Deirdre threw herself from Conchobhar’s chariot rather than live with the man who had caused Naoise’s death. It was said that her grave was near to Naoise’s and that a yew tree grew from each plot. The yew trees grew toward one another till their branches intertwined, joining the two lovers even after death.
PRONOUCE: “eack + na”
DESCRIPTION: From each meaning “steed, horse.” The daughter of a king of the Irish province of Connacht, she was renowned for both her beauty and her fashion sense. “A smock of royal silk she had next to her skin, over that an outer tunic of soft silk and around her a hooded mantle of crimson fastened on her breast with a golden brooch.”
PRONOUCE: “ale + ga”
DESCRIPTION: “noble, brave.” The poetic name for Ireland, Innis Ealga, means “The Noble Isle.”
PRONOUCE: “ave + linn” or “eve + linn”
DESCRIPTION: aoibheann “pleasant, beautiful, radiant.” “Eibhlin a Ruan” was a 17th century love-song composed by the harpist Cearbhall O’Dalaigh who used it to persuade his beloved to elope with him on her wedding day and it is still a popular piece of music at Irish weddings.
PRONOUCE: “a + neen”
DESCRIPTION: A contemporary name ean + the diminutive -in means “little bird.”
PRONOUCE: “en + ya”
DESCRIPTION: eithne means “kernel of a nut or seed” but it may also be related to Aidan meaning “little fire.” There are at least nine St. Eithnes. One 6th century St. Eithne was the mother of St. Columba. Before the birth of her son an angel appeared to her displaying a beautifully colored cloak covered with wonderful flowers. When she reached for the cloak it rose into the air, and spreading out, floated over land and sea until it seemed to rest upon the hills of a distant land. This vision foretold that her little son was to travel over the seas and there win great distinction and honour.
PRONOUCE: “ee + mer”
DESCRIPTION: Eimear possessed the “Six Gifts of Womanhood” – “beauty, a gentle voice, sweet words, wisdom, needlework and chastity!” She was bethrothed to the warrior Cuchulainn (read the legend) when they were children and they loved each other very deeply. But Cuchulainn had “a wandering eye” and Eimear endured this, realizing “everything new is fair,” but when he made love to Fand, wife of the sea god Manannan, Eimear confronted the lovers. After seeing the strength of Fand’s love she offered to withdraw. Touched by this display of unselfishness, Fand left Cuchulainn and returned to the sea. When Cuchulainn died Eimear spoke movingly and lovingly at his graveside.
DESCRIPTION: ean means “bird” and suggests “birdlike” or “freedom of spirit.” St. Enda was a sixth-century monk associated with the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. The name is used for boys and girls.
PRONOUCE: “e + tane”
DESCRIPTION: From et meaning “jealousy.” Etain surpassed all other women of her time in beauty and gentleness and thus was an object of jealousy herself. When the fairy king Midir fell in love with her his wife, Fuamnach, transformed Etain into a scarlet fly that was blown over the ocean for seven years. When she was finally able to return to Ireland she fell into a glass of wine which was drunk by a woman who longed for a child. In this way Etain was reborn and she later married a High King of Ireland.
PRONOUCE: “fee + ina”
DESCRIPTION: Fionn Mac Cool’s (read the legend) warrior band were known as the Fianna (read the legend). In early Ireland women had equal rights and while the warriors were usually men there is a strong tradition of Celtic women fighting alongside the men, dating as far back as Roman times.
PRONOUCE: “fid + el + ma”
DESCRIPTION: Meaning “beauty” or “constant.” The name goes back to ancient times and has been held by six saints. One Fidelma, a daughter of the High King Conchobhar Mac Nessa, was known as Fidelma Nichrothach “Fidelma The Nine-Times-Beautiful,” and a warrior of note herself.
PRONOUCE: “fee + ona”
DESCRIPTION: fionn meaning “fair, white, beautiful” it is the feminine form of Fionn. Of Scottish origin it is quite a popular name in Ireland.
PRONOUCE: “finn + ula”
DESCRIPTION: The name comes from fionn + ghuala “fair shouldered.” The chieftan King Lir and his wife Aobh had a daughter Fionnoula and three sons Aedh, Conn and Fiachra. When Aodh died Lir’s new wife Aoife was so jealous of her husband’s love for his children that she cast a spell on them and turned them into swans and condemned them to spend 300 years on Lake Daravarragh, 300 years on the Sea of Moyle and 300 years on Innis Glora. However, if they heard a Christian bell in Ireland they would become people again. One morning they were awakened by the sound of a Mass bell. St. Patrick had arrived. The children were brought to him and he baptised them and they have lived on in Irish mythology as the “Children of Lir” (read the legend).