Barry: name meaning, origin, and popularity, explained

Although many people associate the name with their favourite brand of tea, an old Irish name, Barry, has a lot of history behind it.

Barry is a popular Irish name that is commonly used as both a given name and as a surname.

The use of Barry as a first name is also widespread in other English-speaking countries, such as the United States, where there are almost 200,000 Barrys recorded.

When it comes to the surname Barry, on the other hand, there are far more Barrys outside of Ireland than there are in Ireland, with almost 60% of Barrys residing in Guinea as of 2014.

Not only is Barry a common first name and surname, but it is also a common pet name in the forms of ‘Barry’, ‘Baz’, and ‘Bazza’.

Things to know about Irish names – history and fun facts

  • Many Irish surnames start with ‘Ó’, meaning grandson of, or ‘Mac/Mc, which means “son of” in Irish Gaelic.
  • Irish names often have many spelling and pronunciation variations.
  • Many of the most common Irish names derive from saints or religious figures.
  • Irish naming traditions often involve naming children after parents, grandparents, or other relatives.


Thankfully Barry is one of the more straightforward Irish names to pronounce and not one that many people struggle with.

“BARI” is the most common pronunciation of the name, but you will also hear “BAR-REE” for those who pronounce the name as two syllables. The name is often mispronounced as “BERRY”.

MORE: our list of the hardest-to-pronounce Irish names

Spelling and variants

The Irish name Barry has plenty of spelling variants.

The name Barry is also sometimes spelt as ‘Barra’, ‘Bairre’, ‘Barre’, and many other spellings. The versions ‘Bari’ and ‘Barri’ are more commonly found in France, mainly in the south.

In Australia, the most frequently used version of the name is ‘Barrie’, and in the Netherlands, the name is commonly used in the form of ‘Berry’. A common nickname for someone with the name Barry is often ‘Baz’.

Also, a bonus tip, “Barayoke” is an excellent name for someone called Barry, who loves singing karaoke. Still, you won’t find that one in the dictionary.

READ MORE: IB4UD’s list of unique Irish boy names


The Irish name Barry means fair-headed or blonde.

The first name Barry is commonly thought to be an anglicised version of the Gaelic name Báire, which is a shortened version of the Irish names ‘Bairrfhionn’/’Barrfind’ and ‘Fionnbharr’/’Finbar’, which all translate into something along the lines of “fair-headed” or “fair-haired”.

Others believe that Barry is an anglicised version of the Gaelic name ‘Berach’, which means “pointed”, “sharp”, and “spear”.

The use of Barry as a surname in Ireland originates from the Gaelic surnames ‘Ó Beargha’ and ‘Ó Báire’.

‘Ó Beargha’ directly translates from Gaelic into “descendant of Beargh”, with ‘Beargh’ meaning “thunder”. ‘Ó Báire’ directly translates from Gaelic into “descendant of Baire”, with ‘Baire’ meaning “fair-haired”.


The Irish name Barry has quite a long history in relation to other Irish names.

In the 1900s, Barry was a hugely popular first name used in Ireland and rose in popularity at the start of the decade.

Throughout the remainder of the decade, the name stayed very popular and was in the top 100 names throughout the 1960s and 70s.

In recent times, however, the name has had somewhat of a fall from grace and hasn’t featured in the top 1,000 names since 2004. The highest the name ever ranked was in 1962, when it was the 61st most popular name.

As such, it can be attributed to being of the old Irish names from your grandparent’s generation.

As for the popularity of the surname Barry, in 2014, the name was recorded as being held by 1.1% of Irish people with a frequency of ‘1:362’.

Famous figures

The Irish name Barry is probably most known for being the brand of tea.

Some famous people and characters with the Irish name Barry are:

– Barry, the character on the TV series American Dad
– Barry McGuigan, the Irish boxer
– Barry Allen, the real name of the Flash
– Barry Evans, the character from the TV show EastEnders
– Barry Kripke, the character on the TV show The Big Bang Theory
– Barry White, the late American R&B singer
– Barry Chuckle, the English comedian who was half of the Chuckle Brothers
– Barry Sanders, the American ex-pro football player
– Barry Manilow, the American singer
– One of Ireland’s favourite tea brands

READ: Ireland Before You Die’s list of the most famous Irish people of all time

Your questions answered about the name Barry

If you’ve got some questions, don’t worry! You’re not alone. That’s why we’ve answered some of our readers’ most frequently asked questions about this name.

Is Barry a Viking name?

Barry is a name of Irish origin from the Gaelic ‘Báire’. However, the name is said to derive from the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland. Thus, the name can be attributed to the Vikings.

What is the Barry family heritage?

The original Barry family is said to be of Anglo-Norman origin, having arrived in Ireland in the 12th century during the Anglo-Welsh invasion.

How common is the name Barry?

The name Barry has been around the world for centuries. Used as both a first and second name, the name has declined in popularity as a first name in recent years.

What is the Irish version of Barry?

The Irish version of Barry is ‘Báire’.

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