Irish Spellings in America

When I was growing up, having an Irish name in America likely meant that your parents had named you Ryan or Kaitlyn.  If you had a “Gaelic” spelling, your name was probably Caitlin or Sean.  I still remember how surprised I was when I heard there was an Aine (pr. Awn-yuh) at my high school. 

St. Patrick’s Day is fairly important to me.  Tomorrow will be the first anniversary of this blog, but more importantly: I’m Irish-American!  Several branches of my family emigrated to America between the 17 and 19th centuries.  Some were Catholic, but others were (a little strangely) Protestant.  The last branch to arrive in the U.S. were native Irish-speakers…something you probably don’t hear too often.  With them in mind, I’ve decided observe St. Patty’s on my site by tracking down and posting as many non-Anglicized Irish spellings as I could find within in the 2015 data.  Irish spellings of English names…totally okay!  I’ll point those out as they come along.

One final note before starting: I’ve tried to include the accents, even though the SSA doesn’t count them. 


Aibhlinn – 18 girls in 2015.  A user-submitted comment to Behind the Name suggests this is an Irish form of Aveline.  Either way, it’s very similar to Eibhlín (see below).

Ailís – 12 girls.  Form of Alice.

Áine – 44 girls.

Aisling – 48.  Variant Aislinn (said like Ashlynn) entered the top 1000 in 2015 with 280 uses.  Another spelling, Aislin, was used 55 times in 2015.

Aoife – 98 girls.

Brighid – 9 girls.  Form of Bridget

Cailín – 50 girls.  Note: I don’t think this is actually a name in Ireland, but Colleen is the Anglicized spelling of this.  It means “girl.”

Caitlín – 473 girls, .  Meant to be pronounced more like Katleen than Katelyn.

Caitríona – 11 girls.  Think Katrina.

Caoimhe – 11 girls.  Pronounced like Keeva.

Ciara – 370 girls, #756.

Clíona – 5 girls.

Clodagh – 5 girls.

Deirdre – 27 girls.

Eibhlín – 8 girls.  Eileen is an English-version, although Eibhlín can also be said more like “Evleen.”

Eilís – 6 girls girls.  Usually a form of Elizabeth

Fíona – 1484 girls, #219. 

Fionnuala – 7 girls.  Fenella is probably my favorite English spelling!     


“Maev,” J.C. Leyendecker, 1911.

Maebh – 6 girls.  My mother told me once that I’d have been named Maeve if I were born in the 80s. 

Máire – 10 girls.  Form of Mary

Mairéad – 24 girls.  Irish form of Margaret

Máirín – 12 girls.  Maureen is the Anglicized form.

Muireann – 5 girls.

Niamh – 35 girls.  Rhymes with Eve!

Nuala – 9 girls.  I’ve actually met one. 

Órla – 30 girls.

Ríona – 33 girls.

Roísín – 27.  Diminutive of Rós, making Roísín the Irish equivalent of “Rosie.”

Saoirse – 158 girls.  Pronounced like “Seer-sha,” I think most are named after actress Saoirse Ronan.

Sinéad – 10 girls.  Form of Jane

Siobhán – 56 girls.  Nancy at Nancy’s Baby Names just wrote a piece on the American familiarity with Siobhan.  Check it out!

Sorcha – 7 girls.

Úna – 45 girls.


Aédán – 166 boys.     

Aengus – 9 boys.

Aodhán – 12 boys.

Art – 20 boys. 

Artúr – 24 boys.

Bradán – 13 boys.  You probably know this name through one of its other spellings – Braden and Brayden.

Bran – 12 boys.

Brian – 2200 boys, #188.

Cathal – 5 boys.

Cathán – 5 boys.

Cian – 153.  Keane is an Anglicized form.

Ciarán – 73.  Kieran is the English spelling, though I still prefer Ciarán.  It makes me think of Ciaran Hinds (especially his role as Julius Caesar in HBO’s Rome).

Cillian – 121.  Pronounced with a hard ‘c,’ like Killian.

Colm – 13 boys.  I met one once, and made the mistake of pronouncing it phonetically.  It’s closer to Colum. 

Colmán – 16 boys.

Conall – 38 boys.

Conán – 58 boys.

Conor – 621 boys, #477.

Cormac – 175 boys.  This always reminds me of Cormac McLaggen from Harry Potter!

Dara – 9 boys, 64 girls.

Deaglán – 50 boys.  Declan is Deaglán‘s Anglicized form.

Donn – 5 boys.  

Éamonn – 35 boys.  Irish form of Edmund

Eoghan – 28 boys.  Equivalent of Owen

Eoin – 57 boys.  Form of John.

Faolán – 8 boys. 

Fergus – 21 boys.

Finn – 1881 boys, #209.  Finn is actually considered an older spelling than Fionn


Finn MacCool, as depicted by Stephen Reid in 1910

Finnian – 164 boys. 

Fionn – 30 boys.

Lochlann – 20 boys.  

Lorcán – 7 boys.

Micheál – 266 boys, #840

Niall – 53 boys.

Oisín – 16 boys. 

Oscar – 2286, #181

Padráig – 28 boys.  Form of Patrick.

Rían – 123 boys, 88 girls

Rónán – 1024 boys, #335. 

Ruairí – 13 boys.  Rory is the most common English spelling. 

Ruari – 14 boys, 10 girls

Séamus – 218 boys, #946.  Irish form of James.

Seán – 1870, #211.  Form of John

Tadhg – 17 boys. 

Torin – 137 boys, 9 girls

Uilliam – 6 boys.  Form of William.

Thoughts?  Questions (especially about pronunciation)?  Additions or subtractions?  Let me know in the comments! 

I sourced the names from these two lists:

The numbers themselves come from the Social Security Administration.  Ranks from Behind the Name.

7 thoughts on “Irish Spellings in America

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s