Name Help is a series at Appellation Mountain. Every Saturday, one reader’s name questions will be discussed.
We’re relying on thoughtful comments from the community to help expectant parents narrow down their name decisions. Thank you in advance for sharing your insight!
Hayley and her husband are expecting their fourth child, a boy, in May.
Their new son will join:
- Lochlann James
- Saoirse Ann
- Aoife Joy
We want to stick with the Irish/Gaelic origin – not too mainstream that there will be numerous around.
We’re obviously not bothered by the unique spelling – but it is not necessary to choose something with a difficult spelling!
Middle names are family names. (Hayley and her husband have some possibilities in mind for this baby, but aren’t quite ready to share.)
Hayley and her husband prefer to wait until their child’s birth to make the final decision, but she adds: we need a couple (of names) to bounce around the day of – our last was ‘Cookie’ for 24 hours 😉 so want to make sure we aren’t internet surfing minutes after delivery!
Let’s help Hayley find some great possibilities for her baby-on-the-way! Please read on for my response, and add your own suggestions in the comments!
Hi Hayley –
Ooh! You’ve definitely established a pattern for your children’s names, and it’s one that leaves lots of room to find names for future siblings.
Though I laughed out loud at this part:
… it is not necessary to choose something with a difficult spelling!
Since you’ve already chosen three great names for your children, it is pretty clear what you’re likely to like:
- Something relatively uncommon. In other words, Aidan is out. But so are lots of go-Irish names for a boy, including modern classics like Ryan, as well as up-and-comers like Declan/Deaglan. Does it rule all of the Finns, too? Because there are some great, authentically Irish, and relatively rare choices like Fintan and Finbarr. Still, since Finn names are pretty popular, I’ll skip them all.
- Something clearly Irish. At first glance, this seems easy. There are tons, tons, of great Irish names ready for use by American parents. Except many of them are already in heavy use, and we’re always looking for new possibilities. Handsome Declan was obscure just ten years ago – and now the name is just outside of the US Top 100.
- Something that works with your older children’s names. Your older kids’ names are lovely heritage choices – so sticking with Irish names is a good approach.
This still leaves lots of options – no wonder narrowing it down is a challenge! My first brainstormed list easily sailed past eighteen names. I dropped a few because they were Welsh (Cadogan, Carew) or Scottish (Struan). I’m not sure how you’d feel about surnames, so I skipped Donovan and Sullivan. And Cian seemed like the right vibe, but maybe felt more trendy than Gaelic.
Here are some names that fit with Lochlann, Saoirse, and Aoife:
- Lorcan – I love the meaning of Lorcan – little fierce one. Bonus: the name is not currently in the US Top 1000. But is Lorcan too close to Lochlann?
- Ronan – One of my favorites on sound alone, and I’ve known a little Ronan – it wears well. The challenge with Ronan is that it sounds like Rowan and Roman, which might be frustrating. Plus, while Ronan remains rare (#433 in the US in 2013), it is among the more popular possibilities on this list.
- Eamon, Eamonn – One of the first names that came to mind! Emphasis is on the first syllable, a long ‘a’ sound, plus mon. It’s distinctively different, not in the Top 1000, and feels quite wearable. But is it too close to Aoife? I don’t think so …
- Seamus – It doesn’t get any more classic than James, and Seamus is the Irish form. It seems like an obvious addition to your list – but if you want to avoid repeating first initials – not sure if you’ve given than any thought – Saoirse and Seamus don’t work together.
- Rory – Like Ronan, Rory is more popular than you might think. And The Gilmore Girls made Rory a possibility for girls, too. But Rory seems like a fabulous masculine possibility, meaning red king and also spelled Ruaidhri. In fact, if your main concern is that Rory might be going to the girls (though the numbers don’t support that), the Irish spelling might be the better choice.
- Fergus, Fearghas – I think Fergus reads Scottish, but Fergus features in Irish myth, and was the name of two High Kings of Ireland.
- Torin – I’m not sure what to think of Torin. It’s an Irish name meaning chief, but it feels rather dramatic, doesn’t it? And like Fergus, it doesn’t immediately scream Irish.
- Killian, Cillian – Cillian is an Irish saint, and the given name of Irish actor Cillian Murphy. The actor has made it just big enough that most of us recognize the name. It’s got a great sound – unlike any of your other children’s names. The one hitch? Killian – equally Irish, and the name of a brand of (Irish) beer – has climbed in the US recently, reaching #766 in 2013.
- Conlan – I skipped Sullivan and Donovan for being too obviously surname-names. Conlan fits the same category, but I think it feels more like a given name. One problem – Conlan and Lochlann share the same sounds, don’t they?
- Ciar, Keir – Add an ‘an’ and you’ll have Kieran, but I think the one-syllable form of the name might be more distinctive.
- Tadhg, Teague – And now we come to my favorite name from this list – Tadhg! If complicated spellings don’t bother you, Tadhg is a great choice. It feels distinctively Irish, and the sound is upbeat. Plus the meaning? Poet. And Tadhg is the name of an eleventh century king, too.
- Tiernan, Tighearnan – My sense is that Tierney has a better chance as a girls’ name – blame it on Hollywood leading lady Gene Tierney. Tiernan, however, leans Blue. It’s an unusual possibility that feels very wearable in 2015.
Which Irish names would you suggest for a son? Do you think any of these pair well with Lochlann, Saiorse, and Aoife?
Tadhg Tully it is!! He arrived May 1st!!
Congratulations! What a fabulous name!
I like the name Darragh! Or you can spell it Dara (like the comedian). It’s quite popular here in Ireland and every Darragh I’ve taught has been a sensitive, caring boy so it has good associations for me.
I love Fergus, but agree it reads Scottish. However, I think Lochlann reads Scottish as well, so I rather like that for the brothers. Someone above suggested Desmond which I think would be a terrific addition to this sibset. My addition would be Brogan, an underused Irish name, but I think fits very well here.
Please, Hayley, make sure and update us with your choice!
The wheels are still churning! Poor boy will hopefully have a name by his first birthday 😉 May you will be hearing back!!
We recently named our son Devlin. It is close enough to Declan to be familiar, but not common at all. Lochlan was out runner up, so we share some common tastes!
I also love Riordan and think it would be a great fit with your other names.
One of my sons has Devlin for a middle name, so I would second that!
The Mrs. says
Have you considered Murphy? Too well-known? It’s incredibly rare as a first name, though!
Killian’s rise, I believe, is in part to the Once Upon a Time character (a.k.a. Captain Hook).
Otherwise, there’s Aed (AY-ed), Beirne (BUR-nee), Carrick, Cavanagh, Culley, Dargan, Desmond, Garron, Gilroy, Hogan, Odhran (OHD-ran), Struthers, Tabor, or Tighe.
Best wishes as you welcome your little one!
What about Cormac or Oisin?
Want an Irish name with lots of history? Check out http://medievalscotland.org/kmo/AnnalsIndex/Masculine/all.shtml !
I love Ronan. Absolutely love. That’s my favourite of the suggestions, though Cillian is not far off. I don’t think I’d go with Seamus or Hamish with a Lochlann James – but that’s my own rules.
I love Eoin, but Owen is much too popular for this sibset.
What about Cael? I like Cael a lot. Though I would have been okay with Finn/Finnian too.
Malachy? First native-born Irish saint, a just a teeensy bit more obscure than Patrick or Brian? lol just slightly. Lochlann, Saoirse, Aoife, and Malachy? It is a relatively straight-forward pronunciation too, though it might occasionally get an “eye” sound ending instead of “ee.”
From the list, Éamonn is my favorite. My favorite Irish name of all is Sean/Seán, followed by Seanán [technically Anglicised as Senan, pronounced like Shannon (which is actually Seanáin or Sionainn)]. A few others not mentioned which I think fit: Eibhear/Ever, Odhrán/Oran, Naomhán/Nevan.
Daddy’s name is Sean 😉
Brooke Cussans says
Love some of these suggestions! My pick of Abby’s suggestions would be Keir, although the only hesitation I would have is that I know a Keir and he sometimes has a problem with people thinking it’s Kia and he’s a girl. Second choice would be Teague.
You may also want to look at Bram, Diarmid and Riordan. I think any of them would work well, but Riordan would be my pick. Then your girls have similar sounding endings to their names, and the boys have similar endings, but they have different enough sounds not to be too matchy-matchy
Just a note on Rory & Ruaidhrí! There are millions of Gaelic spellings – Ruaidrí, Ruaidhrí, Ruairí (my favourite as it’s a little more streamlined!) – and all would be pronounced as ROOR-ee rather than ROAR-ee – Rory isn’t just a different spelling but a totally different pronunciation. Of the two, Ruairí would be the most common over here on the Emerald Isle, and I love it!
So that said, I think Ruairí would be perfect for your sibset – keeps the Irish theme, two syllables like the others but totally distinct sound wise. Also, Roo has got to be one of the most adorable nicknames out there!
And apparently, I am a frustrated Irish-boy-namer, because I’d also like to suggest Niall (Nye-all), Donal, and Mihall (Mee-hall) as names that are still distinctive, but maybe not so pronunciation-challenged.
Oh – Niall! How could I forget Niall? Love that name.
Came directly to the comments to vote for Tadgh. It’s uber-Irish, and he’ll have to teach everyone how to pronounce/spell it, but it comes with great built in nickname. Who doesn’t want an excuse to call their kid Tiger? I’ve only known two – the first is now 18, the second is 2.
True story – I taught the 18yo 3rd grade back in the 00’s. Out of 16 kids in the class, there were two Tylers, Tadgh, and a Taylor. Luckily Taylor, who was the only girl, turned out to be in 2nd grade, and the boys went by Tyler, Ty, and Tiger. It was still dang confusing, but they were great kids, and Tiger is a fine young man now. Anyway, it’s a great name and it gets my vote.
I’m on team Tadgh too. If not Tadgh, maybe Cathal or Colm.