Will we ever run out of Irish appellations common in Europe, obscure in the US? Let’s hope not!

Thanks to Corinne for suggesting another Gaelic choice. Lorcán is our Name of the Day.

Lorcan sounds brainy, but his meaning is from the Gaelic lorc – fierce. Notable Lorcans have run the gamut from saints and scholars to a warrior king:

  • The ninth century Lorcán mac Callaig was King of Leinster. There’s not much about him in the history books, but we know that he scored a victory against the Vikings. At least one of his successors wore the name, too;
  • Irish king Brian Boru’s grandfather was called Lorcan;
  • You may have heard of St. Laurence O’Toole, a twelfth century Irish-born saint. He was born Lorcan, and while he died in Normandy, he left his heart in Dublin – literally. You can still visit it at Christ Church Cathedral.

He’s certainly a valid heritage choice, and he’s perfectly current in Ireland, where he hovers near the Top 100. Irish television staple, the long-running RTÉ One soap opera Fair City, included a character by the name. While the original Lorcan has gone to his reward, he left behind a son called Lorcan Jr.

Americans might think of actor Lorcan Cranitch as the villainous Erastes in HBO’s Rome. Other modern Lorcans include a computer scientist, an architect and an Irish politician.

Future parents may be more likely to stumble on this name in the epilogue to the Harry Potter series. Ordinary readers wanted to know how the characters turned out; the name-obsessed wanted to hear the names of their offspring. JK Rowling came through splendidly, passing on family names to Harry and Ginny Potter’s trio and even telling us that Luna Scamander, née Lovegood, was mom to twin boys Lysander and Lorcan.

Plenty of appealing Gaelic options are scuppered by their spellings. (Remember our discussion about Tadhg?) Lorcan’s pronunciation is trouble-free. Plus, with Logan, Landon and Liam all among the more popular picks for American boys, and plenty of parents seeking an alternative to Aidan, Lorcan could fit the bill. Nameberry even listed him among their Ten Classic Names You’ve Never Considered.

You’ll notice that Lorcan was sometimes Anglicized as Laurence. Despite some superficial resemblance, there’s no etymological link between the two names. Still, tradition has connected them, and the saint’s popularity strengthens the tie. So if you’re looking to honor a grandpa Larry, you might consider Lorcan. Laurence’s medieval diminutive Larkin is another possibility, but with the rise of Lark as a girls’ name, some parents may wish to steer clear.

While Lorcan’s “orc” sound conjures up killer whales and Robin Williams’ breakthrough role as a sitcom alien, those are the kind of minor challenges shared by many a name. (Of course, swap out the “l” for a “d” and you can imagine another teasing nickname, one that could prove burdensome.)

He doesn’t require a nickname, but Lorry is an option, at least until he gets to middle school.

Overall, Lorcan is a rarity in the US that would prove straightforward to spell and pronounce. He has a solid history and impeccable roots as a valid Irish import. If you’re looking for a kelly green name for your son, Lorcan is one to consider.

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. As a Lorcán myself, the only nickname (among Irish Lorcáns anyway) is usually either Lorc or Lorcs (sounds like “Lorx”). No-one in Ireland would ever use Lorry as a nickname for Lorcán as it would be confused with a shortened version of Laurence. So it’s Lorc or Lorcs generally!

  2. I like Lorcan. I really love all of the Irish names. I also have a Granddad Larry (as I call him), who I could honor without using Lawrence, that I am not fond of (as a name. I love my Granddad). It might be better middle name material.

  3. Lorcan really sounds like a Star Trek villian, and Lork does sound like Mork from Ork! And Lorry, in addition to being a truck, sounds like the girl’s name Lori. If you have to honor a family member, I’d stick with Lawrence as the middle name.

    As for Logan and Landon, I like surnames if they have a family significance. I kinda like Liam, but only as a nickname for William.

  4. I’m not a big fan of Lorcan – can’t even tell you why – I just am not a fan. But a suggestion for nn alternatives (some stretch it a bit): Lorn, Loc, Lon or Lonny, and the stretches: Larry, Noll, Col, Roc, and Cal. Lorry is just awful, sorry… in England a lorry is what you’d call a truck (the big ones, like 18 wheelers)… in the US I think it would sound like the feminine Lori (which is why you say until school-age, right?)… either way – not my thing!

  5. It makes me think of Vulcans, like Lorcan is a spin-off race of aliens. So if I met someone with this name, I’d think their parents liked sci-fi, rather than their Irish heritage. Ooops.

  6. This is so ironic – I’ve been working on a story that’s actually a trilogy & one of the key players is named Lorcan!

    I know some have said it sounds Sci-Fi-like; but, I really like this name. It’s so handsome, masculine & strong (I mean, ‘fierce’ as it’s meaning). I also like it’s meaning, which makes me think of Medieval Celtic warriors fighting for freedom or something else heroic.

    My understanding was that Larkin was the Anglo-version of Lorcan?Either way, I also really like Larkin (for a boy) & Lark (for a girl).Obviosuly not together – I just mean this abstractedly as names.

    Nicknamewise, Lorry doesn’t appeal to me, though it would to others.I’d just call him Lorc/Lork for a family nickname, if I was going that root.Oddly I think Lorcan & Luna sound good together.Both are two syllables with different sound emphases .

    1. Hi There,

      We named our first child Lorcan- spent 5 years trying to conceive but always had this this name as a certainty if it was a boy…both for the awesome meaning of Lorcan and just a way to honour our Irish Heritage (We live in New Zealand). Never considered or encouraged a nickname or shortened version of our sons first name but as we have had more visitors come to see us we’ve found that ‘Lorky’ has just seemed to fit-