Top 20 Gaelic Irish girl names

Top 20 Gaelic Irish girl names

Even beyond the Emerald Isle, people seem to be catching on to just how unique and beautiful names of Gaelic heritage can be.

With celebrities such as Saoirse Ronan hitting the big time, more and more parents across the globe are discovering traditional Irish names for their newborn baby girls. Check out some of the most popular below!

(Note: Many of these names include fadas in the traditional Irish spelling, however, for this article we have used the anglicised spelling, where there is one, of each.)

Ireland Before You Die’s top facts about Gaelic Irish girl names

  • Gaelic Irish girl names find their roots in the Gaelic language, an ancient Celtic language spoken in Ireland.
  • As such, a lot of Gaelic Irish girl names have deep meanings, with connections to nature, mythology and historical events. For example, Aoife means “beautiful” or “radiant”.
  • Gaelic Irish girl names, like all ancient Irish names, could be associated or connected to a specific clan or family.
  • Other Gaelic Irish girl names are also associated with Saints, which reflects the strong roots Christianity has in Ireland. One example is Brigid, from Saint Brigid.
  • A lot of the traditional Gaelic Irish girl names have remained extremely popular across the centuries and to the modern day, such as Siobhan, Aoife and Niamh.

20. Meabh / Maeve (may-ve)

Meaning: “intoxicating”. Associated with the legendary warrior queen of Connacht from Irish mythology.

Famous Maeves include Irish novelist Maeve Binchy and Irish comedian Maeve Higgins.

READ MORE: Maeve: pronunciation and meaning, explained

19. Orla / Orlaigh (or-la)

Meaning: “golden princess” or “golden sovereign”. In Irish mythology, both the sister and daughter of Brian Boru shared this name.

Famous Orlas include Irish actress Orla Brady and Irish singer-songwriter Orla Gartland.

18. Eimear (ee-mur)

Credit: Instagram / @eimearvox

Meaning: “swift.” Remaining one of the most popular Irish Gaelic girl names, Eimear was the noble daughter of a chieftain named Forgall the Clever in the Irish legend, known for her beauty.

Irish singer and 1996 Eurovision winner Eimear Quinn and Irish novelist Eimear McBride are two famous Eimears.

17. Laoise (lee-sha)

Meaning: “radiant girl” or “light”. Louisa is a popular anglicised version of this name.

Irish singer of the group Celtic Woman Laoise ni Cheallaigh (Lisa Ann Olivia Mary Sinead Kelly) is the most famous person with the name Laoise.

16. Aoibhe (ey-va)

Meaning: “beauty”. Like a lot of Gaelic names, this one includes the infamously confusing ‘bh’ combination.

Irish fashion blogger Aoibhe Devlin is the most well-known person with the name Aoibhe.

15. Fiadh (fee-a)

Meaning: “wild”. This name is an Old Irish word referring to an animal being wild or feral, stemming from the word ‘fiadhúrla’ which means “wildlife”.

Despite its growing popularity, there are no famous people with the name Fiadh… yet!

14. Aoibheann (a-veen)

Meaning: “radiant beauty” or “of pleasant, beautiful sheen”. This Irish girl name is often interpreted as a diminutive or infantile form of the name Eve, or more literally “little Eve.”

Irish actress Aoibhinn McGinnity, Irish mathematician Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, and Canadian field hockey player Aoibhinn Grimes are the most well known owners of the name.

13. Sadhbh (sive or sigh-v)

Meaning: “sweet/lovely” or “wise”. Be warned; this name has confused many non-Irish people in its long reign as one of the most popular Gaelic Irish girl names.

Two famous Sadhbhs are Irish rock musician Sadhbh O’Sullivan and filmmaker and Guardian columnist Sadhbh Walshe.

12. Áine (awn-ye)

Meaning: “radiance”, “brilliance”, or “splendour”. The name is associated with fruitfulness and prosperity and was shared by the Queen of the Munster Fairies in Irish legend.

Famous Áines include Irish harpist and singer Áine Minogue, Irish radio and TV presenter Aine Lawlor, and Irish actress Aine Ni Mhuiri.

11. Sinead (shin-aid)

Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Meaning: “God is Gracious”. This is the Irish version of the anglicised name “Jane” or “Jeannette”.

The most famous Sinead is Irish singer and activist Sinéad O’Connor, as well as Irish singer and fiddler Sinéad Madden.

LEARN MORE with IB4UD’s article on the Irish name of the week – Sinead

10. Eabha (ey-va)

Meaning: “mother of all life”. This name is essentially the Irish form of “Eve” from the biblical story.

Famous Eabhas include Irish singer for Celtic Woman Éabha McMahon and the daughter of Scottish folksingers Julie Fowlis and Éamon Doorley, Éabha Doorley.

READ MORE: Eabha: pronunciation and meaning, explained

9. Aisling (ash-ling)

Credit: Instagram / @weemissbea

Meaning: “vision” or “dream”. Although this name only became popular as a first name in the 20th century, it comes from the Gaelic word ‘aislinge’ and refers to an “Aisling,” which is a poetic genre of Irish language poetry from the late 17th century.

Famous Aislings include Irish actress and comedian Aisling Bea and Irish actress Aisling Franciosi.

8. Clodagh (clo-da)

Meaning: Unknown. Like many Irish rivers, the River Clodiagh was named after an ancient Irish deity, and this popular first name was inspired by it.

Northern Irish singer Clodagh Rogers and three time Irish dance world champion Clodagh Davis are two of the most well known owners of the name.

7. Cara (ca-ra)

Meaning: “a friend”. A simple yet beautiful name, it has seen a surge of popularity in recent years, for example, English actress and model Cara Delevingne.

Alongside Delevigne, well known Caras include English actress Cara Jenkins and American actress Cara Williams.

6. Roisin (ro-sheen)

Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Meaning: “Little Rose”. This old but hugely popular name has been in use in Ireland since the 16th century. It is sometimes anglicised to “Rosheen”.

Irish singer-songwriter and record producer Roisin Murphy, runner Roisin McGettigan, and Irish novelist Roisin Meaney are three of the most well-known Roisins.

5. Niamh (neev or nee-iv)

Meaning: “radiance”, “lustre”, or “brightness”. Like most popular Irish Gaelic girl names, this one has strong links with Irish mythology.

Niamh was the daughter of Manannan, the god of the sea, and was known as ‘Niamh of the Golden Hair’. She took the poet-hero Oisin as a lover and together they lived in the land of eternal youth, Tír na nÓg.

MORE: Read Ireland Before You Die’s article on Niamh: pronunciation and meaning, explained

4. Ciara (kay-ra)

Meaning: “dark”. Forget the damage recently wrought by Storm Ciara in Ireland; this beautiful name has been popular in Ireland for centuries. It is the feminine form of the masculine name ‘Ciaran.’

Irish TV personality Ciara Whelan, Irish cricketer Ciara Johanna Metcalfe, and American actress Ciara Quinn Bravo are three of the most well-known Ciaras. More ideas can be found in this popular article on the top 20 Irish girl names that are fit for a queen.

3. Saoirse (seer-sha)

Meaning: “freedom” or “liberty.” Beyond Ireland, this name has seen a surge in popularity in recent years, in part because of the fame of actress Saoirse Ronan. However, it has been a continually prevalent name in Ireland since the 1920s.

Saoirse Ronan and Derry Girls actress Saoirse-Monica Jackson are two of the most famous Saoirses.

READ MORE: Get up to scratch and learn how Saoirse is pronounced with a full explanation by a local

2. Caoimhe (kwee-va or kee-va)

Meaning: “gentle”, “beautiful”, or “precious”. From the Gaelic word “caomh,” this name has been notoriously difficult for people outside of Ireland to pronounce – and even some Irish people struggle with it!

Irish peace activist Caoimhe Butterly and Irish TV personality Caoimhe Guilfoyle are two of the most well-known Caoimhes.

READ MORE: CAOIMHE: pronunciation and meaning, explained

1. Aoife (ee-fa)

Meaning: “joyful”, “radiant”, or “beautiful”. The greatest warrior in Irish mythology shared this popular Irish Gaelic girl name. Her fame extends to having her marriage supposedly being arranged by St. Patrick himself.

Two well-known Aoifes are Miss Ireland 2013 Aoife Walsh and Irish actress Aoife Mulholland.

Whether you’re looking to get in touch with your Irish heritage when choosing a name for your new-born, or you fancy something a little bit different, the Gaelic language offers a multitude of beautiful names to choose from.

While the list above showcases some of the more popular choices, there are plenty of lesser known gems that may take your fancy too!

Your questions answered about Gaelic Irish girl names

Below, we have outlined the most frequently asked questions from both our readers and online about Gaelic Irish girl names.

What is the prettiest Irish girl name?

There is no definitive answer, but some of the prettiest Irish girl names include Aoife, Aisling, Erin, Niamh and Saoirse.

What is a classic Irish name for a girl?

A classic Irish name for a girl would be Caoimhe. Others would include Laoise, Roisin and Niamh.

What is the rarest Irish girls name?

Some of the rarest Irish girl names include Líadan, Iseult, Doireann, Sheelin and Sadhbh. Read more with our article on the most unusual Irish girl names.

What is the Irish name for strong girls?

The Irish name for strong girls would be Brea. This is the Irish version of Bree, with Bria being the shortened form of Brianna. This means ‘strong’.

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