Baby name consultation: Irish first + strong and saintly middle for baby boy

Moira and her husband are expecting their fifth baby on earth — their second boy!

She writes,

We have four kids on earth, two babies in heaven, and a little boy on the way. We’ve always been surprised about our babies gender until this time. I was getting the mama prick that we should find out in order to manage expectations.”

“In order to manage expectations” — well said!

Our oldest daughter is Anna Philomena. We both love the name Anna, and Philomena is my confirmation name.

Our next baby is one of the heaven babies. It was a very early miscarriage, so we decided to name the baby Marion John. John is a family name on both sides, and when you say the whole name quickly together it sounds like Mary and John. Also in honor of Mary.

Our second daughter is Carol Elizabeth. Carol is the name of her great grandmother, my maternal grandmother. It’s also in honor of John Paul the great. And Elizabeth is my middle name.

Our next child is our first boy, and his name is Brendan Athanasius. Brendan sounds strong and Irish, and I LOVE the sound of Irish boy names combined with our last name. We really love strong names, especially strong saint names. His first name has the family connection to my mother whose name is Brenna. And we both really enjoyed studying Saint Athanasius’ writings on the infant Jesus in college.

Our next baby is another heaven baby. I had a very strong feeling that it was a girl, I have no idea if I’m correct, but we did get to see her tiny little body. We buried her next to my uncle who died at only a day old. Her name is Beatrice Rose.

Our last child is a girl, and her name is Natalie Thérèse. I have always loved the name Natalie, I think it sounds really beautiful. Thérèse has the family connection to my husband’s mother who goes by Therese (pronounced Ter-eeece).

We considered the name Killian if Natalie were a boy. We thought about Killian Daniel. I was a little nervous though that it sounded like killing.

We literally have no boy names we currently agree on. 🙈 Boy names have been hard for us. We really like to choose a whole combination, a first and middle name all together.

My husband‘s full name is Michael Patrick Stephen. My full name is Moira Elizabeth Margaret Philomena.

Michael and Daniel are both family names and we would consider them for middle names. We would also consider Joseph as a middle name. I don’t really care for Patrick. I do like Cyprian (I think I like the -AN endings) but if I remember right, I think Mike didn’t love that one. Often it helps when I can suggest a whole combination, and that’s been harder with boy names. I do kind of like long and strong middle names (most of my kids middles names fall into this). Also we are both open to Edmund … with the right middle name.

We don’t usually use nicknames that correspond to the child’s name. Our oldest was called Squeaky, our second is usually Carol-E. Our son is Mr. Buddy. And Natalie is simply Natalie.”

First off, I love Moira’s older kiddos’ names — it’s so fun to be surprised by names! Philomena and Athanasius as middles are delightful surprises, as is Carol as a first name! Wow! I also loved how she and her hubby worked in family names in a creative way — Brendan for her mom Brenna, Thérèse for her mother-in-law. Marion John and Beatrice Rose are so perfect for their little ones with Jesus — and I love the “Mary and John” sound-alike. Beautiful job, all around!

I love the name Killian, and Killian Daniel is a very handsome combo! However, Moira’s not the first parent who has written to me considering the name Killian but worrying that it sounds too much like “killing.” Also, there’s usually the issue of — what nickname would a Killian go by? They’ve circumvented that by not using nicknames related to their children’s given names, but for other parents “Kill” or similar is problematic, of course. In general though, I think Killian’s a fine name, and I think it will be obvious to most (all?) people that his name isn’t “Killing.” It’s also no. 286 according to the Social Security Administration, so there are a lot of parents who felt it was fine to use.

That said, some names that are similar but avoid the “killing” issue that might appeal to Moira and her hubs include:

  • Kian: This is said like Ian with a K in front of it, and I always think of it as the perfect solution to any issue with Killian because it’s just Killian without the “ill” in the middle! For that reason, I’ve also thought Kian could make a good nickname for Killian, for those parents looking for a nickname. Kian is no. 446 according to the SSA — a top 500 name, but not super common either. Like with Killian/Cillian, Kian is a variant of Cian, and there is a St. Cian. There’s actually also a Bl. Thomas Kian, though he wasn’t Irish or Celtic. My cousin actually recently named her son Kian, I really love it.
  • Kieran: I had thought Kieran was a bit more mainstream than Killian and Kian, but I discovered it’s actually less popular than both, at no. 497. There are two Sts. Kieran.
  • Kiernan: Kiernan is the least popular of all these, not even being in the top 1000. One of the Sts. Kieran is also known as Kiernan, though they’re not related names as far as I know. This gives an interesting bit about St. Kiernan.

She also mentioned Edmund as a name that they both like, with the right middle name. I love how Edmund Daniel and Edmund Joseph sound! I wondered if they also might like to consider the Irish variant of Edmund: Eamon. It’s said like AY-men, and has the sound of the -AN ending, though the spelling is different. Like with Edmund, I quite like Eamon Daniel and Eamon Joseph.

I thought I’d also suggest a few middle name ideas along the lines of Philomena and Athanasius — “long and strong” names, as Moira put it, and I’d add “super saintly” to their description. Some that are similar in style include:


Right off the bat, Edmund Aloysius strikes me as a pretty amazing combo. Also Kian Emmanuel, Kiernan Aloysius, Kieran Dominic, and Eamon Ignatius all have really nice flows in my opinion.

Okay! On to my new suggestions for this family! You all know that I almost always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard book as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Since my book of Marian names was published, I also look through that as well for names that I think fit the parents’ taste. I admit I also latched a bit onto the fact that Moira likes Irish boy names that end in -an, so my list of suggestions is heavy on both Irish names and names that end in -an (or at least the -an sound), and most of them fit both of those criteria:

(1) Declan
This is one of the first names that came to mind when I saw that they’d considered Killian and that Moira likes -an endings. Declan is a saint’s name, and is at no. 101 on the SSA list. Middle names I might pair with it include Declan Daniel (I love alliteration, though I know not everyone does), Declan Michael, Declan Joseph, Declan Matthias.

(2) Colman
Colman is another Irish saint, and in fact my sister got married in Ireland at the beginning of June in St. Colman’s Cathedral in Cobh, Co. Cork — it was the church my grandfather had been baptized in and had been an altar boy in before leaving for America, so Colman is near and dear to my heart. And it fits the kinds of names Moira likes! Colman Daniel, Colman Dominic, Colman Augustine, Colman Ignatius are all quite nice.

(3) Roman or Ronan
At first I was thinking Ronan for this family, since it’s an Irish boy name ending in -an, but then I saw Roman as a style match for Cyprian, and I liked that a lot for them too! So I thought I’d include them both here. I think they give off very different feels — Roman feels ancient and strong to me, while Ronan is lighter and obviously Celtic, maybe a bit wild — I like them both. Daniel, Joseph, Emmanuel, Leander, Leopold, Stanislaus, and Thaddeus all seem to go well with either one, I think. I also like Ronan Michael and Ronan Matthias, though Roman Michael/Matthias might feel too M heavy? Or maybe not? There are several Sts. Roman, and I also like that it can refer to being a Roman Catholic. There are also a few Sts. Ronan.

(4) Colin
Colin is such a great, Irish name. It’s got the -an ending sound, though not the spelling, which could also be nice in the sense that it doesn’t box them into feeling like they have to choose a name ending in -an for possible future boys, and it also gives them Marion, Brendan, and Colin — three ending spellings that give the same sound without the same spelling. It’s not a big deal at all, of course, just one of those things my namey sense enjoys. Colin Augustine is a really nice companion to Brendan Athanasius. I also like Colin Daniel, Colin Michael, Colin Joseph, Colin Matthias, Colin Sebastian. Colin is a form of Nicholas, which is where its saintliness comes from.

(5) Fulton
Ven. Fulton Sheen is well on his way to becoming beatified, and his name is a great one for a Catholic family to consider! Fulton was actually his mother’s maiden name — it’s an Irish surname — and it fits right in with the kind of names Moira likes, being Irish and ending in the -an sound. Fulton Joseph is probably my favorite, so handsome! I also like Fulton Michael, Fulton Dominic, Fulton Emmanuel, Fulton Ignatius, Fulton Leander, and Fulton Matthias.

(6) Quentin
Quentin isn’t Irish (I think it’s French) and is actually more a style match for Anna and Brendan’s middle names Philomena and Athanasius than the rest of the names Moira and her hubs have used, but it is a saint’s name, it has that ending sound Moira likes, and even more fun, it means “fifth,” which is so great for a fifth-born baby! (Fifth-born, not fifth-conceived — I’m not forgetting Marion and Beatrice!) I like Quentin Michael, Quentin Joseph, Quentin Aloysius, Quentin Ignatius, Quentin Leander, Quentin Matthias, and Quentin Sebastian.

(7) Garrett
Obviously Garrett doesn’t have the -an ending, but I was loving that Moira’s first name is represented in Marion (as Moira is a Mary variant), her first middle is Carol’s middle name, and her Confirmation name is Anna’s middle name. Margaret isn’t yet represented, and I know of a family who named a son Garrett because of their devotion to St. Margaret (Garrett from the last five letters of Margaret), which I thought was beyond cool, and Garrett has an Irishy feel and is an awesome brother name to Brendan in my opinion (and Garrett is a style match for Brendan per the BNW!). If they didn’t care for the Margaret connection, or wanted a boy saint, Garrett is derived from Gerard, so any of the Sts. Gerard can suit (St. Gerard Majella is one of my favorites). Garrett Michael, Garrett Augustine, Garrett Bartholomew, Garrett Dominic, Garrett Emmanuel, Garrett Ignatius, Garrett Leander are all lovely.

Those are my “official” suggestions for this family, but I came across a few others that I didn’t think fit their criteria well enough, but that I wanted to include here just in case: Tristan, Sebastian (I have this in my middle name list of ideas too), Julian, Adrian. I mostly wanted to suggest them because they end in -an!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Anna, Carol, Brendan, and Natalie?

My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!


23 thoughts on “Baby name consultation: Irish first + strong and saintly middle for baby boy

  1. I do love Killian and it doesn’t sound like killing to me! Some possible other nn’s for Killian…
    Killian nn Kai or even Lian (pronounced like Liam but with an n at the end)

    My 2nd son’s middle name is Kieran , which I think is gorgeous, too.

    I do like Edmund , and one nn for Edmund is Ned, which I think is a great name and not used much nowadays.

    Can’t wait to hear what you choose!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What about Kevin, Calum, or Conor with the middle name Michael? Kevin has that classic Irish feel and the K beginning and -an sound at the end. I just love Conor so I’m biased, but it seemed so close to Kieran and Killian.
    I recently meet someone with a son named Calum. Apparently it’s derived from St. Columba, an Irish saint!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kevin is such a great suggestion! I can’t believe I didn’t think of it! I even know a pair of brothers named Brendan and Kevin! I love Conor too, and Calum — love it!


  3. I really like Killian, and while I can see how it may sound like killing to some people, it’s not my first association and I think though the name is not very popular, people usually are familiar with it so would be able to pick up the difference between Killian and killing. I am personally not a big fan of Kian, Kieran or Kiernan, even though they have such a similar feel to Killian, but I like the idea of Kian as a nickname for Killian if someone would need a nickname for it. Kevin is also a good alternative and I like it a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thinking of Irish boys here in the Boston area, Jamison, Keegan, Owen, and Devin are common. We have a Cullen and a Nevin. WIth our 6 children, the name always came to us after the birth. Goo Luck in choosing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m always interested in hearing about names coming to the parents after birth! Did you have a list of contenders going into birth and you waited to see which name the baby looked like? Or did you not have any firm ideas and just waited to see?


  5. Killian is great – the Killian I know never had problems with the whole “kill” thing. I used Kilian as a middle name for my last son. (I do regret not using the two l’s though). It is a jaunty and strong name for a boy – use it! Kelly could be a nick name if you need one. It was a match for my other sons’ middle name – Sullivan and Finian. Finnian’s a lovely name too – and saintly.
    Is Damian Irish? That’s another strong -an name.

    And Ephrem, Felix, Linus , Benedict, or Gregory would be a great middle name!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My understanding is that for their living children, Moira and Michael choose a name they like for first and then a longer and super saintly name for middle.

    I suggest Duncan for first name (-an ending!).

    Some combos: Duncan Benedict, Duncan Vincent, Duncan Blaise, Duncan Cyril, Duncan Isaac, Duncan Dominic, and my personal favorite: Duncan Gregory!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My husband’s name is Colin Joseph, so I’m a bit partial to that! Kieran is my favorite Irish name, and likely one we’ll be using!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think that since so much of Moira has been represent with the other children that it would be good to balance out more with her husband by using Patrick or Stephen in the MN spot for this son.

    Perhaps the way to ease their concern with Killian is to use the original, non anglicized spelling of Cillian. Cillian Patrick could be contracted into Chip as a NN.

    Tristan has a similar feel to Cyprian, and is Irish, maybe that would appeal to both of them? Tristan Patrick or Tristan Bartholomew.

    James with the NN Jimmy always has an Irish American vibe to it or George (like the composer George M. Cohan.) George Ignatius would be awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love Cillian (the Irish spelling for Killian. There is no K in Gaelic, so less kill)

    We have a Conall, which means strong as a wolf. One famous Conall, who was the brother of a High King of Ireland, was baptized by St. Patrick. There is also a legend that one person from every nation was at the Crucifixion, and Conall Cearnach was Ireland’s representative.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d never heard that legend! How cool! I love the spelling Cillian too, though I know some people worry that people who are unfamiliar with Irish names will default to the pronunciation SILL-ian. Not that that has to be a problem of course, a firm and consistent correction is all that’s needed!


  10. Love that Fulton made the list. We named our second Fulton Anthony after discovering your blog. I had not considered it previously because I’m all about the nicknames (unlike this family), but saw your nn suggestion of Finn and that sealed the deal! We are in the Peoria diocese so a great connection for us, too!

    Liked by 1 person

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