Baby name consultant: Irishy unisex surnamey name needed for Baby Girl #6

I wrote about today’s mama in this post of a few months ago, where I wrote about her #5 daughter, who was diagnosed with hydrocephalus in utero, and their journey from no will we absolutely not abort this baby to today, where that baby girl is four years old and a total pip. (Molly blogs about their experiences at Priceless Little Pearl. I LOVE reading the updates.)

That little girl, Meagan, is about to become a big sister! Her parents, Molly and Brian, are expecting their sixth baby, another girl! (Yes, I will have to get my six boys together with their six girls someday! 🙂 ) Their other daughters are:

Reilly Elizabeth
Kaitlin Marie
Anna Clare
Maura Grace
Meagan Theresa Gianna

love their style. I would call it Irishy and feminine for the first names, and super saintly/faith-y for the middles. Names that are on their current list are:

Cara Josephine
Emerson Rose

Molly writes,

We aren’t “set” on any of those names … I do like Erin and Emma but not sure because of popularity, which is why Emerson was born. We had also liked Kaylee, but WAY too similar to Kaitlin….. we had Morgan on the list but that went away because way too close to Maura and Meagan combined … We are open to any names really but we have such a strong trend of Irish/Celtic it’s going to be really odd to stray from that… we love girl names, unisex names or last names as first…. I’m not a fan of flowery names… etc.. the only reason Josephine came up as a middle was because Brian’s Godfather whom he was very close to, Joseph, died years ago and it sounded flowery enough to tone down Cara or Quinn.”

So their list of names is basically the exact kind of list I’d expect — in fact, before Molly told me what they were considering, I’d already jotted down Bridget and Quinn! Bridget totally seems right because of the Irishy names they love, and Quinn does too, both because it’s Irish and it’s a last name like Reilly. Ven. Edel Quinn has been mentioned a few times here on the blog too (e.g., here, here), so it’s definitely been on my radar as a great name and great patron for a little girl. I also love some of the Bridget variants, especially Briege.

I love Emma and Kelsey for them too, they all seem to exactly fit my impression of their taste. I don’t really love Emma as a sister to Anna (my own personal baggage — over the years my hubs and I have discussed the idea of sisters Anna and Emma and decided they were too similar. But of course my opinion means nothing if Molly and Brian love it!) but Emerson nicely gets around all that — it’s a last name like Reilly, it’s got the Em- sound like Emma, it’s a great option.

Cara Josephine and Emerson Rose are actually new additions to the list since Molly and I first talked about names, and they’re clearly the most “complete” and are current finalists, and I like them both for this baby girl. Quinn is also still quite high on their list but they’re having a hard time coming up with middle name ideas. I quite like Quinn with Josephine, and just sounding out other ideas in my head I also like the rhythm of:

  • Quinn Emilia (it gets that Em- sound in there, and it was John Paul’s mom’s name!)
  • Quinn Sophia (which reminds me of some of the other girls’ middle names, especially Grace, Clare, and Marie)
  • Quinn Caroline (like Cara, but also a nod to JP’s pre-papal name of Karol … or Quinn Karoline?)

When I read that they like Kaylee, I immediately wanted to suggest Ceili, which I’ve seen some parents use — it’s pronounced the same, but it’s an Irish word referring to a social gathering involving dancing and folk music (like an Irish dance party!) — but I guess that doesn’t get away from the issue of it sounding too much like Kaitlin.

I love Cara — it means “friend” in Irish, and it also reminds me that I know a family who named their daughter Caragh (pronounced the same), if that’s at all helpful. And I also found this lovely treat at Baby Names of Ireland: Caireann or Cairenn, pronounced like Karen, meaning “little friend” or “little beloved.” Maybe nice in the middle, if not as a first?

And of course I did come up with some more ideas! I always shoot for three, but I have a couple more than that for this family:

(1) Lucy
Anna, Maura, and Meagan especially made me think of Lucy, as did Clare and Grace. Lucy is sweet and saintly, I love it.

(2) Cassidy or Casey or Carrigan
Cassidy is one of my favorite suggestions for this baby girl. It’s originally a last name, like Reilly, and it’s Irish, and it has the awesome nicknames of Cass and Cassie. I kind of really like that Reilly wouldn’t be the only one with a lastname name if she were to have a little sister Cassidy. Casey is similar — a last name, a unisex name, an Irishy name, a great name — but is it too like Kaitlin? I guess I wouldn’t cross it off the list, since Kaitlin is #2 and this new baby is #6 so they’re not next to each other.

I really like Carrigan for them too — it’s like a combo of Cara and Erin (or the Cairenn I mentioned above) with a little Irish jig in the middle. Some may not like the hard g of Carrigan closely followed by the hard G of their last name, but I don’t mind it. Carrigan Rose would be gorgeous, or maybe Carrigan Jo for Brian’s godfather, and it could easily take the nickname Cara.

(3) Brynn or Brenna
Brynn begins with Br- like Bridget and rhymes with Quinn! I like Brynn a lot—I knew a family when I was growing up with three girls named Gr33r, Brynn, and T!erney (alt characters used for privacy), and being a name nut even back then I thought they had the most amazing names. Brenna was listed as similar to Maura in style/feel/popularity in the Baby Name Wizard book, and Brynn was listed as similar to Fiona, which I’d looked up thinking it might be kind of Molly and Brian’s style, so I thought they definitely deserved a mention. While I don’t think Brynn has any saintly connections, Brenna could be a form of Brendan, who’s definitely a saint, or Brennan, which could be considered a variant of Brendan (if that was their intention), but actually has it’s own origin, and there aren’t any St. Brennans that I know of.

(4) Allison/Allyson
This one surprised me—I looked up all their names in the BNW as well as names I thought might be the right style, and while there weren’t a whole lot of suggestions that were common to more than one of their names, Allyson was listed as similar to Kaitlin and Allison as similar to both Meagan and Erin (which I had thought might provide some good ideas for you). A friend of a friend recently named her daughter Al!s0n S0ph!a, which was really surprising to me, and also really lovely I thought.

(5) Shea
Shea is also an Irishy unisex last name, and I think it’s one of the prettiest sounds. I could see Shea Louise being a really pretty combo for example, or Shea C/Karoline.

So those are my “official” suggestions! There were a few other names that I debated putting on the list, and for one reason or another they didn’t make the final cut, but I thought I’d put them here anyway, just in case: Fiona, Aisling (or Aislinn—which it just occurs to me is actually really similar to Allison/Allyson, at least in appearance), and Sarah. And some others that were listed as similar to more than one of the other girls’ names: Avery, Deirdre, and Delaney. And I really wanted to suggest Nora, and kept having to remind myself that they already have a Maura! But ooh — that just made me think — maybe Nola? (Abbreviated form of the Irishy Irish Fionnuala.)

What do you all think? What other suggestions do you have for Molly and Brian’s sixth little girl?


52 thoughts on “Baby name consultant: Irishy unisex surnamey name needed for Baby Girl #6

  1. Perhaps I have been reading too much Maeve Binchy and other Irish authors, but since they feature in Irish fiction, I assumed that they would be decent name suggestions:

    Carmel (Our Lady of Mount Carmel, place name that is very popular in Ireland)

    And I can’t help but say, I think Bernadette is the quintessential Irish girl saint name.

    Liked by 1 person

    • WOW I’ve never heard of Claddagh as a name! I like it! I love Carmel too, and the only one I’ve ever known was an Irish woman. And another vote for Rowan, nice! Sloane def has that surnamey feel too … and I agree that Bernadette needs to get more play … Great ideas!


  2. Rowan was my first thought as well, followed by Emilia because of their Em- love. It feels more Italian than Irish, but it could work!

    (Although I can verify that Emma and Anna aren’t too close! My sister and I were the only sibs until I was 7 and it still wasn’t confusing… although we did frequently get comments that we just needed an Ella/Eva.)

    I’m a bit surprised they are considering so many surnames for this baby.
    When I see a family with a lineup like theirs (1 surname, then 4 not) I would assume their style changed or refined, or that they became “more Catholic” and traditional names became more appealing. For that reason I think they would be happier with Emma than Emerson. But maybe Emilie, Emily, Emilia, Emerie, or Emery would be a happy medium.

    Whenever I see Quinn suggested for a girl, I just always have to mention Guinn/Guin/Gwen/Gwyn. Very similar, but uniquely feminine. And it would work beautifully in this sibset!

    My final picks from their list would be:
    Bridget Jo/Josephine or
    Erin Rose

    My top picks from the secondary suggestions would be:
    Emilie Rose
    Emilia Jo
    Bridget Emilia
    Gwyneth Erin
    Guinn Rowan
    Emerie Bernadette

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that you and your sister are an Emma/Anna pair!! Funny about the surname thing — I really love the idea of using one for this baby as a way of looping Reilly’s style back in with the other girls. I like all your combos, very pretty all of them!


    • No we didn’t become “more catholic” – we have always been, but just knew our first would be Reilly after my grandmothers family and subsequently all other names of our current daughters are family names. That’s why some middles are saints names, some not etc. Now we have options where some are family or some are just ones we have always liked. Being that this is likely our last child, we have revisited either family surnames or surnames from the counties where grandparents were from as a good match to round out Reilly. That’s why we have Quinn, etc on our list. Several of our name choices for this baby have actually been on our list since our first or second born along with what they ended up being named. So we just revisit ones we have always liked.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I see! This has been on my mind recently, since I met another family whose oldests are C@mer0n and M@dis0n, then their others (their “post-conversion” children they call them) are more Mary/Peter/Joseph type names.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks so much for the responses! The reason we only have one surname so far is because it was a family name. Almost all the other girls’ names are family names as well we wanted to use as well so nothing changed as far as our taste. We thought going back to a surname would be nice to round out Reilly on top. I’m not much for flowery names. I love unisex names but they have to be truly unisex (like Reilly or Quinn etc). Rowan is a name I love but both here and in Ireland is predominantly boy and I love it for a male so I wouldn’t want to feminize another great boy name. Almost all names with a long “o” are out anyway because of the long “o” in our last name.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I like Bridget the best of your list, partly because it wouldn’t repeat any of the sounds in your other daughters’ first names. Have you considered Brigid/Brighid?

    If you like Cara, maybe you’d also like Ciara?

    If your preference is to move back toward surname names, then I like Quinn best for your family.

    And I think Josephine is a wonderful middle name.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love Bridget! I think it would be really nice with their other girls names 🙂

    All their names make me think of the super Irish Catholic family that I lived across from growing up, and they have a ton of Fionas! And I see you suggested it at the bottom of your post! I love it for them! Maybe Fiona Bridget?

    Lastly I thought of Keira. I love the Irish Ciara spelling, but because of the singer Ciara (Sierra) I don’t think people would pronounce it correctly and Keira is my favorite alternative spelling. Keira is also similar to Cara and Keira Josephine would be beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My youngest is named Morwenna, which seems to be a little-used Celtic name on this side of the pond. 🙂 Morgan made me think that they might like a “Mor” name that isn’t as well-known and doesn’t sound as close to Meagan.

    I also love Rowan and any of the Gwen/Wynn names. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. When it comes to unisex names, I’m drawn to the ultra-classic unisex names (that often double as nicknames of feminine or masculine names) such as Alex, Andy, Cory, and Lee. As a personal preference, I’m not fond of using masculine names as girl’s names, such as James, Nikita, and Orion. That said, there are many truly unisex Irish names that simply are more popular with either girls or boys.

    – My only issue with Quinn, which is a great name, is that it means ‘five’ or ‘fifth’, and this is Molly’s sixth baby. The name Cecil is known to have been given to the sixth son, derived from the Latin Sextus, an impossible name for modern times, for obvious reasons. Cecil also seems to be used as a unisex name in modern times. Cecilia is probably too flowerly for Molly’s taste, but perhaps she would like Cecily or Cecile.

    Evan – I like that this name has both Christian and Irish roots. It means ‘warrior youth’ in Celtic, and as far as I know, is meant for both girls and boys. It can also be an English version of John, or can hark back to the four Evangelists who wrote the Gospels.

    Shelby – Not quite Irish, but English, it always brings me back to the the kind-hearted character in Steel Magnolias (based on a real person), whose friend decides to name in her honor her child, whether a boy or a girl. Another name with a similarly adorable, unisex feel is Kirby, and its meaning is “settlement near a church”.

    Roberta – As a child, a book I enjoyed was about a red-haired Roberta dressed in green on the cover, so I connect that name to an Irish household. I love this name for being feminine but clearly derived from a boy’s name, making it a good alternative to unisex names, and one of those names that impels you to never shorten it to a nickname without being too heavy. I can see Roberta as a sister to these little girls.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Quinn also means smart. And descendant of “Conn” which is a family clan from our area of the county my grandfather came from. I have never really heard of it meaning 5th except when people associate it with “quint” which isn’t really on my mind.
      For Unisex names I prefer not all boy ones like Rowan, but not flowery like Roberta. I fall in the middle into the categories where the name is unisex but more like a Reilly or Quinn taste. Especially to go with my other girls’ names. Thank you so much for the feedback! Lots of good ideas are coming from this thread.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lots of good ideas here! I don’t think Quinn has a connection to “five” though, as it’s an Irish surname meaning “descendant of Conn,” so I think they’re safe there.

      I hadn’t known until now though that Cecil can be connected to “six,” as you said, via the Welsh given name Seisyll, which is kind of cool for a sixth baby! I like it better than “blind,” which is its more ancient/Latin meaning (which is where Cecilia comes from … but I do think it could be used with “sixth” in mind!).

      Evan, Shelby, Kirby, and Roberta are all really thoughtful choices!


      • That’s interesting. Even though it doesn’t officially have anything to do with five, I can see how she got there from “quint”. I actually like that idea, we’ll have to keep it in mind for #5 down the road.
        Kate – I’d love to see any other numeral name associations as a post someday! I know of a family who named their #6 son Sixtus (as in St. Sixtus II from the canon of the mass). Started as a joke and then grew on them during the pregnancy. They call him Six which is actually pretty cute!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh yeah, I can def see how Quinn’s similarity to “quint” could lead one to think it’s related to five … and even to choose it because of its similarity in sound rather than because of its (non-five) meaning. Really cool! And I’m dying over Sixtus nicked Six! That’s hilarious and so so so cool! Kind of edgy and Church-y all at once. 🙂

        I’ve added “numeral names” to my list — great idea! Look for it sometime in the future!


      • I Love reading all the ideas and different perspectives. We have a good list started from this and I’m excited to see what else comes up! I appreciate it!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. What about Flannery? It is still really uncommon I see from the SSA list. I thought it would be more common since I know two families with little girl Flannerys.

    My cousin’s 3 year old daughter is Evan. First time I had heard it for a girl, but it is sweet. Evan was always a favorite for me for a boy, but didn’t use it – it and Brendan, too Irish for our Portuguese last name.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Love their daughters’ names! Of the names they’ve thought about, I like Emma and Bridget, but I agree that a unisex/surname would be best. It kind of broadens their style by wrapping back into Reilly’s name style. Emerson is nice but I think Quinn works better. (To me, Quinn feels more similar to Reilly and less masculine than Emerson, so it feels like it fits in more with all of the girls.) I think Quinn Josephine is a beautiful name. I also like your suggestion of Shea.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. My favourite Irish names are Niamh, Keeva and Kiera. But I don’t think these fit with this family like Quinn does! It seems perfect, and like a recent poster said, seems to fits better than Emerson in my opinion. Quinn just has more of a vintage, Irish vibe to it, whereas Emerson seems more modern. But any their names could work of course and it depends on what they love.

    My fav is Quinn Josephine.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Thank you everyone for the constructive comments and suggestions! We have some great new middle name options and a growing solid list of first name choices! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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