Aidan has gone supernova. Connor is heard everywhere. What’s a parent in search of an authentic Irish appellation to do?

Thanks to Bek for suggesting one fresh option. Today’s Name of the Day is the dashing Doyle.

Doyle is indeed a surname, and he’s undeniably Irish. He roots are with the Gaelic Dubhghall. It translates roughly to dark stranger from dubh – black – and gall – stranger. What’s interesting is that the dark strangers were actually Scandinavians. Most histories suggest that Dubhghall would’ve been applied to the Danes, who were just a smidge less fair than the Norwegians – who were called the Fionnghall, or fair strangers.

Over the centuries, Dubhghall was reduced and Anglicized until it became Doyle – one of the most common surnames in Ireland today. It may also have become a popular substitute for many an unrelated name, including MacDowell.

Doyle has all the friendly openness of other Gaelic choices like Aidan and Ronan, but also a certain cerebral appeal thanks to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creative force behind über-sleuth Sherlock Holmes.

Plenty of other real life Doyles can be found, in nearly any field of endeavour. A sampling includes:

  • Clyde Doyle, a California politician in the 40s and 50s;
  • David Doyle, the actor who played Bosley on Charlie’s Angels;
  • Poet Kirby Doyle, a contemporary of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac;
  • Actress Maria Doyle Kennedy, known as Katherine of Aragon on Showtime’s The Tudors.

There are also fictional Doyles galore, including:

  • Roz Doyle, Frasier’s producer;
  • Gene Hackman’s character in The French Connection, Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle;
  • There’s been a Maggie Doyle on ER and on the Australian police drama Blue Heelers;
  • Remember when Rick Schroder guest starred on 24? His character was Mike Doyle;
  • Another Doyle was Allen Francis Doyle, a part-demon character on Buffy-spinoff Angel.

Lest you think Doyle is only a surname, it is worth noting that Doyle was once regularly in use as a first name, charting as high as #195 back in 1931, and appearing every year between 1894 and 1981.

Overall, Doyle is undeniably appealing. He’s a surname choice that seems unlikely to be stolen by the girls. He’s as Irish as Aidan, but far more distinctive. And while he’s not often heard as a first name, he’d be instantly familiar to all.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. Doyle is memorable and really enjoyable!

    I like one-syllable names on men, and this one is difficult to say without some sort of a smile. He feels much like Arlo to me.

  2. Wow, I know this is an old post but I just found it. To me Doyle seems very southern and not Irish. Maybe because my mothers family is from Oklahoma and I have an Uncle Doyle, but I have heard quiet a few Doyles in the south, so to me it always sounded like old fashioned Southern, I would never in a million years thought it would be Irish. Its right up there for me with the fact I have an Uncle Jimmy and an Uncle James that are brothers, full brothers, so weird to me.