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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

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Traditional Irish girl names written on pegs.
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.

Where's Mary?

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.

Irish names

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.

Regional differences

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

  • All-Ireland: Chloe

  • Regional Top 8 2013

    • Borders: Sophie
    • Midland: Emily
    • West : Emma
    • Dublin : Emily
    • MidEast: Emily
    • MidWest: Emily
    • S.East : Emma
    • S.West : Emily

  • All-Ireland: Emily

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    See selection of Related Pages, or go to Irish Genealogy Toolkit Home

    Top Irish girl names 2013*

    1. Emily
    2. Emma
    3. Sophie
    4. Ella
    5. Amelia
    6. Aoife
    7. Ava
    8. Lucy
    9. Grace
    10. Sarah
    11. Mia
    12. Anna
    13. Chloe
    14. Hannah
    15. Kate
    16. Ruby
    17. Lily
    18. Katie
    19. Caoimhe
    20. Sophia
    21. Lauren
    22. Saoirse
    23. Ellie
    24. Holly
    25. Leah
    26. Amy
    27. Olivia
    28. Jessica
    29. Ciara
    30. Zoe
    31. Isabelle
    32. Niamh
    33. Molly
    34. Julia
    35. Robyn
    36. Erin
    37. Roisin
    38. Freya
    39. Laura
    40. Cara
    41. Sofia
    42. Eva
    43. Rachel
    44. Isabella
    45. Kayla
    46. Abbie
    47. Charlotte
    48. Millie
    49. Faye
    50. Clodagh
    51. Aisling
    52. Alice
    53. Eabha
    54. Abigail
    55. Ellen
    56. Lexi
    57. Aoibhinn
    58. Layla
    59. Eve
    60. Zara
    61. Alannah
    62. Aine
    63. Maria
    64. Megan
    65. Rebecca
    66. Nicole
    67. Sadhbh
    68. Clara
    69. Elizabeth
    70. Maya
    71. Maja
    72. Emilia
    73. Caitlin
    74. Rose
    75. Isabel
    76. Aoibheann
    77. Sadie
    78. Lena
    79. Hollie
    80. Sienna
    81. Mary
    82. Fiadh
    83. Zuzanna
    84. Aimee
    85. Tara
    86. Hanna
    87. Katelyn
    88. Lilly
    89. Ruth
    90. Alexandra
    91. Poppy
    92. Amber
    93. Mollie
    94. Victoria
    95. Lara
    96. Sara
    97. Brooke
    98. Aoibhe
    99. Laoise
    100. Kayleigh

    *This list relates to the Republic of Ireland only (stats from CSO).

    See Northern Irish girl names for NISRA stats.

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