Baby name consultation: Baby girl needs a super-Irish name like her big sibs

Diana and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — their third girl! Little Miss joins big siblings:

Lillian Nicole

Saoirse Irene

Aidan James

Which you know have me all 😍😍😍 — I love those Irish names!

Diana writes,

My husband and I are having a hard time naming this next child. I don’t like his suggestion and he doesn’t like mine or neither of us feel like it’s right. Our pattern so far has been an Irish name and a family name. We are trying to avoid names that start with the same letter as a sibling or sounding the same.”

The list of names that Diana likes includes:

  • Megan
  • Maighdlin
  • Brigit
  • Marjorie
  • Claire
  • Ellen*
  • Margaret*
  • Madelyn
  • Ester
  • Tamsyn
  • Rhea
  • Mary

And her husband’s list includes:

  • Bianca
  • Isabel
  • Isabella
  • Inis
  • Vera
  • Grace
  • Molly
  • Naomi
  • Amara
  • Talia
  • Natalia*

(Asterisks denote each of their favorites.)

Okay! So first off, Lillian, Saoirse, and Aidan are fantastic names! I like Diana’s rules of avoiding using the same first initial for this baby girl, as well as names that sound similar to her older siblings’ names — that definitely helped to narrow down the field of names.

I was really interested to see what names were on their lists, since Lillian seems to me a different style than Saoirse and Aidan — I wondered if their lists be mostly Irishy Irish names, or less so? I was impressed by the range of names on Diana’s list and that of her husband! Here are my thoughts on them, in case they’re helpful:

  • Megan, Marjorie, Margaret: I grouped these together because they’re from the same name family — Megan is a diminutive of Margaret (and can be used as a nickname for it), and Marjorie is a medieval variant of Margaret. Margaret, Megan, and Maggie all have an Irish feel to them, so I think something here would be great. I wonder if the Gaelic version Mairead (rhymes with “parade”) might do the trick? Maisie is its traditional nickname, which is darling.
  • Brigit: I like that names like Margaret and Brigit are a nice middle ground between Lillian’s style and Saoirse’s. If they spelled it Bridget, they could consider using Bridie as a nickname, which I love.
  • Claire: Claire’s a great name! I wonder, though, if Clare might be the better spelling for this family? Like Co. Clare in Ireland?
  • Ellen: On the one hand, I was surprised by Ellen as it seems to have a different feel than the other names on Diana’s list. But then, my grandfather was born and raised in Ireland and his sister Eileen went by Ellen sometimes (or was it vice versa?), so I can see how Ellen can fit in with an Irish sensibility. I wondered if Eileen or Eleanor (nickname Nora, which has a nice Irish feel) are Ellen-ish names that might appeal to Diana’s husband?
  • Madelyn, Maighdlin: I’d never seen the Irish form of Madelyn (Maighdlin) before, I love it! I think finding the Irish variant of names they like is a good strategy.
  • Ester: Like Ellen, I was surprised by Ester on Diana’s list, but delighted to see that it’s similar in style to Naomi and Talia on her husband’s list — since they’re both having a hard time coming to a name they both like, it’s great to look for any commonality! However, I do think it would be a bit jarring to have a name that comes across as so Old Testament with Saoirse and Aidan as siblings, for example.
  • Tamsyn: I had Tamsin on my own list for my oldest if he’d been a girl, in honor of a Thomas — I liked that Tamsin is a feminine variant of Thomas via Thomasina. The fact that Diana has it on her list says to me that she’s okay expanding their names from strictly Irish to more broadly Celtic/British Isles, as I’m not familiar with its usage in Ireland, though I do think it has traditional usage in the U.K. (I could be wrong though!)
  • Rhea: Wow, another surprise! I think it fits with the “old lady” type names, like Ellen and Ester. One of my readers has a little Rhea.
  • Mary: I was excited to see Mary on Diana’s list, as there are so many pretty Irish Mary variants! Molly is one example, which I noted on her husband’s list — Mary as a given name with Molly as a nickname is how Molly arose as a name to begin with, and might be a nice option for this family. I also love Moira and Maura/Maureen.
  • Bianca, Isabella, Natalia: I’m grouping these together because they have a distinct Latinate feel that’s really beautiful but is at odds with the Irish style I think. But since Diana’s husband loves Natalia, I tried to think of some similar-ish names that would seem more natural with Lillian, Saoirse, and Aidan, which I included in my “official” suggestions below.
  • Isabel: Isabel is lovely, and could fit better with their kids than Isabella I think, but even still, it doesn’t have that Irish sparkle.
  • Inis: Is this like “Inish,” like Inis Mor? I’ve never seen it considered as a name before!
  • Vera: Vera strikes me as similar to Ellen, Ester, and Rhea in the sense of it being kind of an “old lady” name, which are definitely back in style right now. But again, it feels like a mismatch with the other kids.
  • Grace: I love Grace, and I think it might normally go nicely with their other kids, but that I don’t love that it shares several sounds with their last name. The Irish variant Grainne takes it one step away, and normally I wouldn’t recommend it because its pronunciation is impossible to figure out for those who don’t know how to pronounce it, but I suspect Diana and her hubby deal with that all the time with Saoirse.
  • Molly: I think Molly’s a great option — see my comments re: Mary above.
  • Naomi, Talia: Naomi is a very Old Testament name, like Ester; I don’t think Talia is an Old Testament name, but it is a Hebrew name and I believe it’s most common among Jewish families? (Except when it’s used as a nickname for Natalia, for example.)
  • Amara: I’m having a hard time figuring Amara out — I thought it might be a Hebrew name like Talia, but what I’m finding is that it’s an Igbo name (from Nigeria) or also the name borne by multiple characters from a couple fantasy shows. So I’d recommend crossing this one off the list, as it’s pretty far away from the style they’ve already established. Maura is an Irish name that is similar in sound which might appeal to Diana’s husband.

So those are my thoughts on the names Diana and her husband have on their lists, which I hope they only find helpful — I don’t want to disparage any names they both really like or make the task of choosing a name for their little girl harder.

Now on to my new ideas! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so for this baby; Saoirse doesn’t have her own entry, but there is a list of Celtic names in the back of the book that includes Saoirse and also a nice mix of names that I think would fit well with their older kids, which I also looked through. Based on that, these are my new ideas for Diana’s baby girl:

(1) Catriona (Cait/Cate, Katie)

Catherine is a style match for Margaret; Catalina is a match for Natalia; and Caroline/Carolyn is a match for Margaret, Claire, and Ellen, so I thought Catriona, which is an Irish form of Catherine/Katherine and has similar sounds to Catalina and Caroline, might be perfect. Catriona can take the nickname Cait/Cate as well — Kate is a match for Claire and Katie for Molly, so I like this idea for them a lot.

(2) Isla

Isabel(la) and Inis from Diana’s husband’s list made me think of Isla, which I thought they might like. It’s got both Scottish and Spanish usage — pronounced EYE-la for the former and EES-la for the latter — and I included it as an entry in the book of Marian baby names I wrote, as “its Marian character comes from the title ‘Our Lady of the Isles’ (Moire ro Naomh nan Eilean in Scottish Gaelic, referring to a statue of Our Lady on the island of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland), or any of the devotions in the U.S. and Canada to Our Lady of the Island or Our Lady of the Isle.” Isla is such a pretty name!

(3) Eilís/Eilish

I love these Irish variants of Elizabeth — they are definitely very Saoirse-ish but perhaps a little more accessible, which swings them a little more to the Aidan/Lillian side.

(4) Fiadh

Sophia is a style match for Lillian; Sophie is a match for Isabel and Grace; and Safiya is a match for Amara, but I didn’t think any of those were names Diana and her husband would really like, especially since they begin with S like Saoirse and they don’t want to repeat initials. But Fiadh is said just like the last syllable of Sophia, and like Saoirse it has a meaning of freedom: “wild, untamed.”

(5) Rosemary/Rosemarie, Róisín/Roisin

Rosemary is a style match for Marjorie, and as soon as I saw it I thought of my friend Rosemarie, who is native Irish and grew up in the Gaeltacht, speaking Irish as her co-first language, I believe, so I thought maybe they’d like to consider Rosemary or Rosemarie, especially since Diana has Mary on her list. Rosemary/Rosemarie made me think, too, of Róisín, which is Irish for “little Rose” and is the name of a girl I knew when I was younger. I’ve always loved it, such a pretty name!

(6) Ríona/Ríonach/Ríoghnach

Speaking of pretty Irish names that begin with R, these names are all variants derived from the Irish for “queen,” making them cognates of Regina and therefore they’re Marian names as well, via her title as Queen. One of my readers used Ríonach for her baby’s middle name, it’s amazing!

(7) Nollaig

This might be a strange idea, since I haven’t seen it used as a name, but it’s Irish for “Christmas,” making it like Noelle and Natalia. The final G is said, but otherwise I think it sounds a lot like Molly, especially when said with their G last name, so maybe this would be a good compromise for Diana and her hubby?

(8) Niamh, Naomh

What about one of these names? Naomi on Diana’s husband’s list made me think of both Niamh and Naomh because of the similarities in spelling (though Naomi is said much differently than Niamh and Naomh of course), which I spotlighted here and discussed faith connections.

(9) Maeve/Medb/Méabh/Meadhbh

Finally, I had to suggest Maeve — it’s one of the easiest for those who aren’t familiar with Irish names to figure out, as long as the Maeve spelling is used. If they wanted to get more Irish, though, they can choose from Medb, Méabh, Meadhbh and there might be other spellings too — so many letters for such a little name, haha!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Lillian, Saoirse, and Aidan?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

9 thoughts on “Baby name consultation: Baby girl needs a super-Irish name like her big sibs

    • Baby Names of Ireland has pronounciations by the author of Angela’s Ashes on their website. It’s great for the Irish names you see here.

      Like

  1. I love these names! Their lists include several of our kids and others I’ve considered.

    What about Aine? My oldest daughter loves it so much that she doesn’t mind helping people to pronounce it.

    Like

  2. So many great names!

    I love Brigit, Marjorie, Claire, Mary, Grace and Molly with the siblings. As well as Kate’s suggestions of Fiadh, Rosemarie, Niamh, and Maeve

    What about Fiona or maybe Kathleen or Colleen.

    Like

  3. I love Meara (sounds like Vera), Una (Irish spelling of Oona and has that Latinate vibe too), and Eavan (pronounced EE-van) nn Evie.

    Like

  4. I like:
    Claire/Clare
    Deirdre
    Eilish — AY lish
    Fiona or Fionnuala
    Maeve
    Niamh — NEEV
    Noreen or Norah
    Roisin — ROH sheen

    I also like these names. They start with A, but the beginning sound is different than the A in Aidan.
    Aisling — ASH ling or ASH lin
    Aoife — EE fah or EE fuh

    Like

  5. I see a lot of Irish and Italian names on their lists, so I suggest Cara or Maura as bridge names.
    Or even:
    Helena/Elena
    Rosalia/Rosalie
    Lydia
    Magda

    Like

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