Whether you simply have an interest in Irish female names or are expecting a baby and are looking for ideas for Irish girls names, then you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, you’ll find some of the most popular and best Irish girls names to give you ideas or to fuel your interest.
There are some Irish names for girls that you will have heard of and perhaps some you might not have. All of the names that have made this list are often the most popular Irish girls names year after year. Shout any of these names on a crowded street on the Emerald Isle and you are sure to find a few heads turning.
And many of these names can be found outside of Ireland as well. They are growing in popularity as parents-to-be search for names for their baby girls as a nod to Irish heritage or because they like traditional Irish names for girls. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the top 10 Irish girl names with a mention of the most popular Irish name for a girl in 2021.
A guide to the best Irish girls names
In 2021, the most popular Irish name for a girl was Fiadh. This old Irish name meaning ‘wild’ has grown in popularity in recent years and is pronounced Fee-a. Other meanings of Fiadh include ‘deer’ and ‘respect’. Not only was it the most popular Irish girl name in 2021 in Ireland, but it was also indeed the top name for girls born in Ireland in 2021.
However, despite its fast-growing popularity, there are other names that are among the most popular on the Emerald Isle and these traditional Irish girl names are as follows.
Pronounced Ee-fa, this is one of the most popular Irish names for girls. Meaning beautiful, radiant, and joyful, it comes from the Irish word “Aoibh” which means radiance/beauty. Aoife was also one of the greatest female warriors in Irish legend and history and was the mother of the son of Cúchulainn, Connlach. The name Aoife also appears in other Irish legends including in the ‘Children of Lir’ as Lir’s jealous third wife.
If you like Aoife you might be interested in discovering more Irish girls names beginning with A.
One of the most popular Irish girls names is Niamh. Coming from the old Irish word Niam, an ancient Irish term for a goddess, its meaning is “radiance, lustre and brightness”. Niamh is pronounced Neev, although there are some that pronounce it Nee-iv. The name Niamh is steeped in Irish legends, with the most popular story being of the daughter of the sea god, Manannan. Known as Niamh of the Golden Hair, she was a princess of fair hair riding a white horse who fell in love with Fionn’s son Oisin, the famous tale of Tir-na-nOg.
Arguably the most common Irish girls name is Áine. Áine comes from the ancient Irish noun aine meaning “splendor, radiance or brilliance” and is often connected with prosperity and fruitfulness. Áine can often prove difficult to pronounce for non-natives of Ireland. It is pronounced Awn-ye or Awn-ya. Another name found in Irish history, Áine was the queen of the Munster fairies who was a wife of Fionn MacCool (see this post about Irish mythological creatures), and the name was also that of an Irish folklore goddess of summer and wealth. During the British rule in Ireland in the 17th century, it was translated to Ann in an effort to stamp out the use of traditional Irish names.
One of the top Irish girl names is one that has a long history. Orla, pronounced Or-la, was the name of the sister, daughter and niece of one of Ireland’s greatest high kings, Brian Boru. Popular in the Middle Ages, it is still popular today and has a few spelling variations including Orlagh and Orlaith. The meaning of Orla is “golden princess”.
One of the best classic Irish girl names is Maeve, pronounced May-v. Coming from the old Irish name of Mabh, Maeve means “she who intoxicates” or “the cause of great joy”. Maeve is another name that is common in Irish history and legends, with the powerful Queen of Connaught being called Maeve. Queen Maeve invaded Ulster, but was defended by the great warrior Cuchulainn. Another Maeve in Irish legends was the queen of the fairies. Other spellings of the name include Méabh, Medb and Meadhbh.
This is the female version of the Irish boys name Ciaran. It comes from the Irish word ciar which means “dark” and implies dark hair and eyes, so its full meaning is “little dark one”. St Ciara was a 7th-century figure who established a monastery in Kilkeary in County Tipperary. It is pronounced Ke-ra and is a very popular Irish girls name.
If you like Ciara you might be interested in discovering more Irish girls names beginning with C.
Another one of the pretty Irish names for girls is Aisling. Coming from the Irish word aislinge meaning “a vision” or “a dream”, it has several spelling versions including Ashling and Aishlinn, but most will be pronounced Ash-ling or Ash-linn. In the 18th and 19th centuries, it was the name given to a poetic genre and its popularity rose from there. Despite its popularity though, it wasn’t used as a first name until the 20th century.
One of the most pretty Irish girl names is Saoirse, made more popular thanks to the Irish actress Saoirse Ronan. Saoirse means “liberty” or “freedom” in Irish and is pronounced Seer-sha or Sur-sha, depending on where you are from and how the female prefers to be called, but it is mainly Seer-sha. Its use as an Irish girls name began in the 1920s during the Irish War of Independence but remained less frequently used than others on this list until the last decade or so.
One of the top pretty Irish names for girls and my personal favourite is Caoimhe. This name in particular causes confusion over how you pronounce it. Coming from the Irish word “caomh” meaning dear or noble, Caoimhe is pronounced Kee-va. It can also mean “gentle, beautiful or precious”. It is one of the more common Irish girl names in Ireland but rarely heard outside of the Emerald Isle.
One of the most beautiful Irish girl names is Siobhan. Pronounced Shiv-awn, this name has a history dating back to the 14th-century and means “God is gracious”. Siobhan is the Irish version of Joan and was the name of several early Irish queens and made known to the American public via the Irish actress Siobhan McKenna.
So, there you have it. Our top 10 most popular and best Irish girls names. There are others that could have been included in place of some on this list, but these are among the most popular Irish names for girls on the Emerald Isle. Do you know anyone called any of these names?
Cath is an Irish expat now living in Portugal. She regularly returns to Ireland to explore more of the wonderful island with her family.