Frequently Asked Questions on soc.culture.irish with answers. Send corrections, suggestions, additions, and other feedback to The FAQ maintainer.
Yes, here are four such lists. The names are separated into girl's names and boy's names. These are further separated into a "conservative" list and a more "general" list. The "conservative" list includes only names acceptable to purists, meaning that they are of Irish origin and are spelled correctly according to modern Irish usage. The "general" list includes names from various sources such as postings, birth and death columns.
The "general" list includes different variant spellings of the same name on the same line. Not all of these spellings are strictly speaking correct but they have been or are still used. I have put the Anglicised spellings last; they are, however, popular and give English speakers a clue how to pronounce the name.
Where an "equivalent" English name is given, this does not mean the Irish name is derived from or even related to the English "equivalent". It just means that the English name has been used traditionally when a translation was desired.
Irish pronunciation is difficult to work out from the spelling and Irish names are no exception. In most cases, Irish names are not pronounced the way they look to an English speaker. The most notorious case of this is "Caitlín", which is not pronounced "Kate-Lynn". See the (sketchy) pronunciation guide below.
It's also worth mentioning here that Fiona Hyland maintains a page with Irish first names at
that includes pronunciations for each name.
Girl's Names (Conservative)
Bríd (dim. Brídín)
Fionnuala (dim. Nuala)
Sadhbh (dim. Saidhbhín)
Girl's Names (General)
[ ~ Engl. denotes the traditional English equivalent.
= Engl. denotes the English translation ]
Áine (~ Engl. Anne)
Aoife (~ Engl. Eve)
Bláithníd (~ Engl. Florence)
Bláithín (~ Engl. Florence)
Caitríona Catriona (= Engl. Catherine)
Cáit (= Engl. Kate)
Dearbhaile [same as below?]
Derbhle Deirbhle Dearbhla Dervla
Eibhlín Eileen Aileen
Eilis Ailis Aelish (~ Engl. Elizabeth)
Gobnait Gobnat (~ Engl. Deborah)
Gráinne (~ Engl. Grace)
Laoise (~ Engl. Louise)
Máire Maura (= Engl. Mary)
Máiréad (~ Engl. Margaret)
Máirín Maureen (= Engl. Mary [dimuntive at the end -- "little Mary"])
Medbh Maedhbh Maeve
Orlaith Órla Órfhlaith Orla
Róis (~ Engl. Rose)
Saibh Saidhbh Sive
Sinéad (~ Engl. Jane)
Siobhán (~ Engl. Joan)
Treasa (= Engl. Theresa)
Tríona (short for Catriona?)
Úna Oonagh (~ Engl. Winifred)
Boy's Names (Conservative)
Colm (dim. Colmán)
Boy's Names (General)
Aodán Aodhagán Aidan
Cathal (~ Engl. Charles)
Caoimhín Caoimhghin Kevin
Cruchuar Conchúr Conchubhar Conor
Dáithí (= Engl. David)
Diarmaid Diarmuid Dermot
Donagh Donncha Donnchadh
Eamonn Éamon (~ Engl. Edward)
Eoghan Eoin Owen
Gabhan Gavan Gavin
Liam (~ Engl. William)
Niall Neil Neill
Pádraic Pádraig (= Engl. Patrick)
Peadar (= Engl. Peter)
Proinsias (= Engl. Francis, Frank)
Seán (= Engl. John)
Séamas Séamus (Engl. James)
Seóirse (Engl. George)
Tadhg (~ Engl. Timothy)
Tomás (= Engl. Thomas)
Some names I'm not sure of
Are these Irish? If so, what is the canonical Irish spelling?
You may have noticed that there's a fair bit of duplication above. There are anglicised spellings, Irish spellings and slight variations of the same name, even in the modern Irish spelling. Some of the variations are probably regional. This guide is, needless to say, incomplete and may contain serious mistakes.
Here are approximate transiliterations for the letters that don't exist in English. The slash above the letter is called a fada in Irish, meaning long, because it lengthens the vowel).
á = aw - awe, crawl (a - flat in Ulster)
é = ay - hay, bray
í = ee - feed, creep
ó = o - owe, flow
ú = oo - cool, fool (more like the French word for "where")
Some of the consonants are pronounced differently.
s = sh (when it is in the stressed syllable)
bh = v
dh = g
mh = w
th = h
Note that the letters j,k,q,v,w,x,y,z do not occur in Irish. The letter c is always pronounced hard, as in cow, never soft as in cigarette.
Irish spelling insists on grouping "fat" vowels and "thin" vowels when they are separated by a consonant. The fat vowels are a, o and u. The thin vowels are e and i. So if a word would have a fat vowel followed by a consonant (or several) followed by a thin vowel breaks the rule: a vowel must be inserted to balance the spelling. Thus "Osín" is wrong; it must be "Oisín"; "Sibhán" must be turned into "Siobhán". The extra letter is generally silent.
|Author:||Donncha Ó Corráin & Fidelma Maguire|
|ISBN:||0 946640 66 1|
|Title:||Irish Names for Children|
|Author:||Patrick Woulfe, revised by Gerard Slevin|
|Publisher||Gill & Macmillan, Dublin, 1974 reprinted 1994|
|ISBN:||0 7171 0697 7|
|Title:||An Sloinnteoir Gaeilge agus an tAinmnitheoir|
|Author:||Muiris Ó Droighneáin|
|Title:||The Book of Irish Saints|
(Where does it come from? What does it mean?)
You might have more luck asking in soc.genealogy.surnames. If you are interested in general discussion about researching Irish family names, you could try soc.genealogy.ireland. If you have access to the web, have a look at the Genealogy Meta FAQ at
If you don't mind doing a bit of research of your own, there's a guide called IRLGEN that you might find useful. You'll find it on the web at