Modern Irish girl names
Irish baby girl names have moved on from Mary and Bridget.
The most popular names in 2013 were Emily, Emma, Sophie, Ella and Amelia
21st-century Irish girl names in the Republic of Ireland
Irish girl names have changed dramatically since the civil registration system was introduced in 1864.
The top ten Irish female names for girls in 2013 show that only Sarah has survived the passing of 150-plus years.
If you take a look at my research into Irish first names in 1864, you'll see that Sarah took the No.9 spot back then. Fast forward to 2013 and the stats show Sarah with an 'h' was chosen 391 times in 2013; the shorter version – often pronounced differently – was selected 71 times. This split between the two spellings may be enough to see the name slip out of the top 10 in the future.
Perhaps the biggest change is that the parents of one third of all infant girls in Ireland no longer select Mary. Yes, that's right! Back in 1864, one in three girls was called Mary.
One and a half centuries later, in 2013, there were just 79 instances of Mary being recorded as a first name among the 33,658 female births registered.
Poor old Mary came in at 81st place in the popularity stakes, and is on a downward slope. Still, she's had a good innings and will probably be recognised as THE Irish girl name for many years to come.
Another significant feature of 21st-century lists of top Irish girl names is the appearance of so many traditional Irish names.
Examples include Aoife, Caoimhe, Eabha, Niamh and Roisin which were the options chosen for 1,228 little colleens born in 2013.
These are Old Irish names, drawn from Celtic history or from the Celts' Gaelic language.
However, it is noticable that Irish names have experienced a slight drop in popularity in the last few years. The same five names mentioned above were selected by 1,607 parents in 2008, so they've seen a 23 percent drop in the last five years.
You can find out more about traditional Irish girl names and their meanings by following the links in the Related Pages box in the right-hand column.
While the most popular Irish names for boys have continued to draw on the bible for inspiration, female Irish names do not.
The influences are much more varied and much more exotic, suggesting that Irish parents are prepared to express their imagination when naming their daughters but prefer much more 'solid' and 'trusted' monikers for their sons.
This greater variety in the choices made is clearly expressed in the statistics... Some 4,643 different names appear in the list of Irish girl names for 2013; boys's names total 3,628. These numbers count different spellings as different names ie Caitlin is counted as a distinct name from Katelyn.
The top spot for Emily was gained in almost all parts of the Republic. Only the Western region (counties Galway, Mayo and Roscommon) and Southeast (counties Carlow, Kilkenny, South Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford), where Emma was the most popular name, and the Borders region (counties Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan and Sligo), where Sophia was preferred, were out of line with the majority verdict.
The lists below show that the top Irish baby girl names in each of the regional authorites has changed in the last fifteen years.
Regional Top 8 1998
- Borders: Chloe
- Midland: Ciara
- West : Rachel
- Dublin : Chloe
- MidEast: Aoife
- MidWest: Chloe
- S.East : Chloe
- S.West : Ciara/Sarah
Regional Top 8 2013
- Borders: Sophie
- Midland: Emily
- West : Emma
- Dublin : Emily
- MidEast: Emily
- MidWest: Emily
- S.East : Emma
- S.West : Emily
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