Baby name consultation: Irish/Celtic name for baby no. 2!

(Thank you all so much for your excitement and prayers following my pregnancy announcement on Saturday!! You all are the best!! ❤ ❤ <3)

Megan and her husband are expecting their second little one, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! 🌱 This wee babe joins big brother:

Finnian Daniel

You know how much I love Irish names! Finnian Daniel’s so handsome! (And so sorry to all of my Italian readers for continuing the Irish theme on St. Joseph’s Day!)

Megan writes,

Our son’s name is Finnian Daniel. We wanted to honor our Irish heritage with a first name that is clearly Irish — we’d love to continue using Irish names for our children if we can, and I’m also open to Gaelic/Celtic/Scottish names as well. My husband’s family is German and Welsh, so I guess those names aren’t out of the question, either. Since we both have very common first names, and are one of “many” with the same name, we tend to like uncommon names more. We love longer names that can be shortened to nicknames. Finnian is really the perfect name to us: it’s not in the top 1,000, but easy to say and spell, and of course shortens to the adorable and more commonly known Finn — it’s clearly Irish; there are several amazing Catholic saints who bear the the name; and, in general — we like the sound of it — it is happy and carefree (just like his personality!). We like the idea of continuing to use Catholic saint names for our children, but it is not a requirement (we’ve had trouble finding female saints in particular…).

Finn’s middle name is after his grandfather/father. To us, middle names are an easy way to honor family. If we have another boy, we’ll most likely go with Thomas (my dad’s name) for the middle, or maybe Francis (grandfather) or Brendan (brother) or even Leo (another family name). For a girl, my mother and I share the middle name “Eileen,” so that may be a nice tradition to pass on, but also have Clara (grandmother who I was very close to), or May/Mae (both of grandmother’s middle names). If it’s a girl, I’m more open to a different middle name option than I would be for a boy.

We have many male names that we like, but are just not as in love with them as we were with Finnian! They are Declan, Cullen, Cormac (but really I just like nn Mac), Lachlan, Callum. I also like Henry which is clearly not Irish and way too popular but just to give you an idea on style … we love that Finn sounds like a little old man’s name.

The girl names we are a little all over the place on. One name that we both do really like is an Irish place name, Adair (or Adare) (which I read about first on your blog!) with the nn Ada? Other girl names we tossed around are Ailish, Saiorse (husband loves this one but way too hard to spell IMO), Arlen (I like unisex names for girls a lot), Arwen (think we nixed this one due to sounding too LOTR), and Nuala.

Really no names are off limits! Oh except for flower names.”

I’m sure you’re not surprised that I had loads of fun with this! Megan and her hubs have a really fun style!

It’s interesting to me that Leo is a family name for Megan — I’ve always thought of it as an “Irish” name because there are loads of them in the Irish side of my family, and I wondered if that was just my experience or if it does have exceptionally good usage among families of Irish descent. So I love seeing that it’s in her family tree too!

Some thoughts about the names on their list of considerations:

  • Declan: Great name, very Irish. In the movie Leap Year, which is mostly set in Ireland, the main guy is Declan and they call him Decko (Deco?) at one point, which is really cute. Dex could also be a cute nickname
  • Cullen: Love it
  • Cormac: Ditto, and the nickname Mac is great
  • Lachlan: Great name
  • Callum: I probably prefer this to Cullen, only because I don’t know how prominent the Twilight association would be with Cullen anymore, but they wouldn’t have to worry about that at all with Callum
  • Henry: I’m glad Megan included this on the list — I think it helped me understand their old-man taste! If they did decide to go with Henry, its traditional nickname Hank is definitely an old-man name and sooo cute
  • Adair/Adare is an awesome name, and I’m so pleased Megan found it on the blog! Ada as a nickname is cool too. Maybe also Dara?
  • Ailish I love, and the similar Eilis. Gorgeous! They also made me think of Aislin(g) (said ASH-lin or ASH-ling) and Ainsley. Also, Ailish and Eilis are saintly — I understand that Ailish is generally considered the Irish form of Alice, and Eilis is Elizabeth
  • I love the idea of Saoirse, and a friend of mine had her daughter on July 4 and seriously considered it because of its meaning “freedom,” but it’s SO hard to spell and no one will figure out the pronunciation! Because Megan and her hubs have such Irishy Irish ideas on their list, I thought I’d throw out some of my favorites: Caoimhe, Niamh, Aoife, Eimear, Aine, and Grainne. But all of them (except maybe Niamh? Maybe it’s got a little familiarity? I did a spotlight of it here) have the same problem as Saoirse
  • Arlen’s cool
  • Arwen is 100% LOTR to me, which I don’t think is terrible, but I can see they’d want to move away from that
  • I like Nuala! Another variant of Nuala is Nola, which is like Nora but with a twist, and is easy to spell and say

So when I was coming up with new ideas for Megan and her hubs, I did do my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard (as you all know, I rely heavily on it in my consultations, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity), but I also went off-road as it were by just coming up with ideas that I thought might fit their style, especially based on nicknames and Irishness. Based on all that, these are my ideas for this baby:

Girl

(1) Gwenfair or Mairwen
These names were inspired by their love of Celtic names, the fact that Megan’s husband is Welsh, and the fact that they have a LOTR name on their list (Tolkien’s names have some good connection with Welsh in particular, I believe). These gorgeous names are actually the same name, with the elements reversed: “gwen” (which is of course the “Gwen” in Gwenfair as well as the “wen” in Mairwen) means “fair, white, blessed,” and Mair (which is the “fair” part of Gwenfair, as well as of course the “Mair” in Mairwen) is the Welsh form of Mary. So these are gorgeous, unusual Marian names! I believe the “fair”/“Mair” parts are both said to rhyme with “tire” in Welsh, and the F is like a V, so gwen-vire and mire-wen, but I think they could legitimately say “fair”/“Mair” to rhyme with “care,” which makes it easier to live with in the U.S. I did hesitate that maybe Gwen and Finn are too similar sounding as nicknames? But I think they could be fine too.

(2) Brigid/Bridget nicked Bridie; Briege
When Megan said they like longer names that can be shortened to nicknames, I immediately thought of one of my favorite Irish girl nicknames: Bridie. So cute! I like both Brigid and Bridget for this family as longer forms. These names also made me think of Briege, which is a form of Bridget … it’s not a long name that can be shortened to a nickname, but it’s a pretty cool+unusual Irish name. You all might be familiar with Sr. Briege McKenna.

(3) Greer
One of the names I’d scribbled down for this family before I even cracked open the BNW is Greer, one of my favorites. It’s a Scottish feminine form of Gregory, and while I think it definitely has a unisex feel, it also has a Hollywood starlet feel to me, a la 40’s actress Greer Garson. Funny enough, her given name was Eileen, so Greer Eileen really goes together imo!

(4) Tierney
Another I’d written down for them before starting my research was Tierney, so I was delighted to see both Tierney and Greer as style matches for Adair according to the BNW! I was actually inspired to suggest both of them to Megan by sisters I knew growing up named Gr33r and T!erney (alt characters used for privacy). Like Greer, Tierney has a unisex feel, and I love its rhythm. I know neither Greer nor Tierney lend themselves to natural nicknames, but they seemed too good a match for this family to not suggest them!

(5) Rhiannon, Rowan
There were a few inspirations behind these names: Rhian was listed as a style match for Cormac, but I though Rhiannon was a better idea, since then they’d have a longer name that they could shorten to the unisex-feeling Rhian, or also Rhia. Rowan is a match for Cullen and Adair as a girl’s name, and Finn as a boy’s name, so it seemed a great idea for Megan and her hubs!

Boy

(1) Malachy
The Irish author Frank McCourt (Angela’s Ashes) had a brother named Malachy, so I’ve always thought of it as an Irish old-man name. It’s the name of an Irish saint, and Mac is an easy nickname for it, which is what made me think of it for this family, since Megan said what she likes about Cormac is actually the nickname Mac. And Malachy’s definitely uncommon!

(2) Jameson
I thought Jameson felt similar to Finnian — definitely Irish, not unfamiliar, and a longer name that can be shortened. I can definitely hear “Jamie” being said in an Irish brogue, and Finn and Jamie sound like amazing Irish brothers.

(3) Cameron
Cameron might be too popular for them (no. 57 in 2016 compared to Finnian not even being in the top 1000 [though Finn was no. 175]), but it’s Scottish and Cam is one of my favorite nicknames.

(4) Ronan, Rohan
While Rowan started as a boy name and has become more unisex, Ronan — which is a match for Finnian, Declan, and Cormac — is firmly masculine, as far as I know. And Ronan (and Arwen) made me think of Rohan, like the Riders of Rohan from Lord of the Rings — I think it’s maybe not as well known as a LOTR name as Arwen is? And Rohan is actually an Irish surname.

(5) Timothy or Thaddeus nicked Tadhg
I don’t think Megan and her hubs will love the familiar feel of Timothy (though it’s dropped in popularity, being no. 153 in 2016), though it does have an Irish feel — it’s one of those names that seems to be favored by Irish/Irish-American families of the past, and so it has a green sheen even though it’s biblical. Conversely, Thaddeus has the uncommonness I think they prefer (it was no. 641 in 2016), and though it does have traditional usage in Ireland, it doesn’t have an Irish feel like Timothy. But the reason I’m including them on my list of suggestions is because both have been used as the Anglo version of the super Irish name Tadhg. In fact, I have a devotion to one of the Irish martyrs, a Dominican priest named Bl. Thaddeus Moriarty, and he’s sometimes listed as Bl. Tadhg Moriarty. I think Tadhg is one of the coolest Irish boy names —
it’s said like the first syllable of “tiger” — but like with Saoirse, its spelling is a challenge and no one will know how to say it. That’s why I suggested Timothy or Thaddeus as the given name, and Tadhg as the nickname — of the two, I think Timothy is a better match as a brother for Finnian.

And those are all my ideas for Megan and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Finnian Daniel?

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32 thoughts on “Baby name consultation: Irish/Celtic name for baby no. 2!

  1. I vote Brigid for a girl! It strikes just the right note of familiar but not very common, and of course unmistakably Irish. I agree with you that Bridie would be an inspired nickname choice!

    (I also loooove Greer!)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I know a Daniel Finnigan! Declan always screams Irish to me, and I would say a Bridget or variation/spelling for girl. I like Lochlan for either gender! Mac is a cool nickname, also very Irish and goes well with Finn.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Brigid is lovely and I’ve heard Birdie 🐦 used as a nn , which is very cute.
    I love the sound of Caiomhe and have seen it used with the phonetic spelling Keeva but somehow that loses the “celticness” for me.
    I would suggest Rowena for a girl.
    For a boy I love Connor/Conor nn Con or Brendon.
    Friends with a very Irish history have a son called Martainn pronounced “Meertin” and another called Rhian.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Malcolm is Scottish, not Irish, but with Callum and Cormac on the list I can’t NOT suggest it. Nicked Mac of course. Finnian and Malcolm . I like how it keeps you in the Gaelic world but leaves you free to continue to name broadly and not continue to narrow into an uber Irish sibset. For girls I love Nuala. A guilty pleasure of mine is Orla but it may be too short for your taste.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Just a comment on the context for some of the names here. I would not recommend using Dara as a nickname for a girl – it’s a very common Irish name, but for boys/men (as the spelling Darragh, it ranked at 17 last year, with the spelling Dara in the top 100 also). There’s a pretty well known Irish comedian in the UK called Dara O’Briain.

    On Leo – the current Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland is a Leo. It has been in and out of the top 100 of baby names used in Ireland over the last 50 or so years (the stats online go back to 1964) and is currently at about 33 and trending upwards. I thought it might have gone down a bit when I checked (who wants their cute baby to share a name with a politician?) but it jumped about 20 places in the last year.

    Thirdly, and this definitely isn’t a deal breaker on the name, but it’s something I’d want to know, is that Tadhg has history of use as a slur against Catholics/Nationalists in Northern Ireland, especially spelt more phonetically as Taig. The Irish in general don’t consider it to be a problem though, as far as I can tell (it ranked 28 last year).

    Sorry to be such a downer! I like the suggestion of Bridget/Bridie, and maybe the spelling Emer would work for Eimear? What about Maeve (Meabh), Orla, or Una for a girl? If you like Callum, what about Colm for a boy? Ciaran/Keiran? Dermot? I really liked Cillian for you, except of course then I realised it rhymes with Finnian.

    Rohan with a soft (silent?) H has good use in Aus/NZ and it made me think of Eoghan (Eoin, Owen). I’m guessing you could only really get away with the Owen spelling in the US, which I think is fine, it just means you’ve picked the Welsh version.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for all this info! I did know about Taig, but since I know an Irish boy named Tadhg, I thought it must not be as problematic as it used to be (?), and your comment that the “Irish in general don’t consider it to be a problem” confirms that. So interesting!

      Like

  6. Saoirse is great! It was the name of a character in the film Song of the Sea, and it sounds just gorgeous. People will figure out the spelling!! It’s not that complicated! Anyway good luck, you have great taste!
    What about Saoirse May/Mae?

    Liked by 3 people

  7. My vote:
    Mairead.

    Mairead or Mairéad, is the Irish variation of Margaret, which is believed to mean “pearl”. Another spelling variation (Scottish/Gaelic) is Maighread. Also- Mèrida is derived from Maighread.

    Could use nn Mare or Mair or Maire or Mary or Meri (my favorite!) .

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I have a Callum so I’m biased, but I think Callum and Finn are a fantastic combo! Callum Thomas seems quite dashing to me. I also like Cormac so you could get away from having two names that both end with -n. For a girl, I love Ailish, and the suggestion of Meara. Ailish Mae seems both sweet and clever. But if you decide to go with one of the “unspellables”, I’ll provide moral support: my husband appears dead set on naming a daughter Aoife, and I don’t seem to care enough about the hazardous spelling pitfalls to dissuade him, so we may have our own little “unspellable” to cuddle in 7 months.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. My exchange student from Germany had a holiday cottage in Ireland with her family and I had s chance to visit and made some friends, one of whom I’ve kept up with! He’s one of 6 kids and I raided his friend list for names, too! The siblings are
    Cian
    Cethan
    Céilinn
    Cillian…
    Richard
    Zoe!

    Aoife, Eibhlín, Edel (!), Eoghan, Eoin, Ethna, Fiachra, 3 Grainne , and Siobhán we’re from his friends and I wanted to throw Róisín out there just because I love it!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Just wanted to throw in one suggestion for a girl name building on one in your list, if you are open to double-barreled names. Adair is lovely, and I once met an Anne-Adair (albeit spelled differently), which I thought was an absolutely amaaazing combo. Ada could be used as a nickname for Ann(e)-Adair as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. For a girl – one of my favorite girl’s names EVER is Afton – it’s a Scottish river, and the song/poem Flow Gently, Sweet Afton just makes me absolutely swoon.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. This post could have been written for me! Our eldest is Finnian. We then had Aisling and lastly Ruairi. I love Irish names, even though we live in New Zealand. It is such a lovely way to honour the heritage of the family and to get a slightly unusual name too. When we had Ruairi we also considered Cormac and if he had been a girl he would have been Maeve.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. A name that says “little old man” to me is Emmet. It is having a recent resurgence in popularity (with the English Emmett spelling) but with Irish spelling still uncommon. I like Finn and Emett.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Malcolm nn’ed Mac. Malcolm Thomas and Malcom Leo are my favorite combos.

    Ainsley. Gaelic for meadow. I think Ains could work as a nn. I wonder if Annie would work as a nod to Mary’s mom.

    Colin and Maeve are also nice.

    Liked by 1 person

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