Irish boy names have been popular in the U.S. for decades due to their deep historical roots and significant meanings. Many were once borne by legendary kings and warriors, conveying social status, position in battle, or physical characteristics. With so many meaningful choices, it can be difficult to select just one. Fortunately, we’re here to help. Our selection includes traditional Irish names with modern twists and ancient names derived from Irish legends.
Whether you’re drawn to the strength of names like Finn and Cormac, the regality of names like Brian and Aodh, or the uniqueness of names like Cian and Lorcan, we have the perfect Irish name for your baby boy.
Table of Contents
- 100 Strong Irish Names for Boys
- Irish Names FAQs
100 Strong Irish Names for Boys
- Aengus means “excellent strength” in Irish.
- Pronounced eng-iss, this old Gaelic name is often anglicized as Angus. In medieval Irish myths, Aengus was the god of love, summer, youth, and poetry. Nowadays, people are more likely to associate the name with beef or the lead guitarist from AC/DC. As of 2020, Angus was not in the top 500 Irish names for boys in Ireland or the U.S., so it could be a unique choice if you’re cool with its connection to cattle.
- Aidan is an Irish, Scottish, and Welsh boy’s name meaning “little fire.”
- Aidan is the modern version of the Celtic names Aodhan and Aeddan. It’s popular in Ireland, ranked within the top 100 Irish boy names since the 1960s. In the U.S., it was popular in the early 2000s but has recently lost momentum, ranked #261 in 2020. Notable namesakes include St.Aidan, who founded the famous monastery on Lindisfarne island, and Irish actor Aidan Gillen, who played Littlefinger in the hit HBO series, Game of Thrones.
- Trendy, Friendly
- Alistair is a Greek, Scottish, and Gaelic name meaning “the one who repels men.”
- While giving your son a name that talks about “repelling men” doesn’t sound all that great, there is more to Alistair than meets the eye. It was initially given to warriors who could ward off their enemies in the heat of battle. So, the only people Alistair will be repelling are his adversaries!
- The Gaelic form of this name, Alasdair, has been popular in Ireland and Scotland for hundreds of years. However, it didn’t leave the Emerald Isle until the 20th century, making it a lesser-known choice than Allen, Brian, and other Irish male names that made it across the pond much sooner.
- Sophisticated, Unusual
- Allen is an Irish name meaning “harmony” or “handsome.”
- Originally a surname, Allen is prevalent in Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales. It may have derived from the Gaelic word Ailin, meaning “harmony,” or the Celtic word Aluinn, meaning “handsome.” Other common spellings are Alan and Allan. However, Allen may be the best option if you want to use Len or Lenny as nicknames.
- Aodh is an Irish name for boys meaning “flame.”
- A popular name in early Ireland, Aodh, pronounced AY, was borne by several kings and legendary figures. In Irish mythology, Aodh was a god of the underworld and the prince of a supernatural race of fairy folk called the Daoine Sidhe. In modern times, Aodh is often anglicized as Aidan or Hugh.
- Ancient, Common
- Art is an Irish name for boys meaning “a bear.”
- Mistakenly used as a shortened form of Arthur, Art has its own unique origins. It comes from the Celtic word “artos,” which means “a bear.” However, the name doesn’t reference the creature. Rather, it implies that the child will be a champion with bear-like qualities, such as strength and agility. Today, Art is most commonly used as a nickname for Arthur, Artur, and Arthuro. However, we think Art could be a great name all by itself!
- Strong, Unique
- Among the many war-related Irish names for boys, Barry means “spear.”
- A popular choice in the U.S. during the 80s, Barry has become a relic of the past. However, its popularity could reignite as people fondly recall the wonderful Barry’s of the past, including singers Barry White and Barry Manilow. If Barry is too close to its fruity cousin (berry), consider naming your son Barnabas or Bartholomew and using Barry as a nickname.
- Blaine means “slender” in Irish.
- Originally a Scottish and Irish surname, Blaine is also spelled Blane, Blain, and Blayne. It’s a relatively common personal name in Ireland and the U.S. While it isn’t trendy right now, it has a familiar charm that makes it a worthy contender. The most famous bearer is American illusionist David Blaine.
- Bradan is an Irish and English name for boys meaning “a salmon.”
- Bradan isn’t as fishy as it seems! It derives from an Irish myth in which a salmon falls into the Well of Wisdom and receives all of the world’s knowledge. Legendary warrior Fionn Mc Cool accidentally eats some of the fish’s fat while cooking it for his master, Finn Eces, making him the wisest man in the world. There are many ways to spell this “so-fish-ticated” name, including Brayden, Braden, Bradyn, Bradin, and Bradun, so choose whichever floats your boat!
- Brady is an Irish male name with two potential meanings: “spirited” or “broad.”
- Brady functions as a given name and a surname. However, the most famous Brady’s have it as their last names, such as Mike, Greg, Marsha, (and so on) from the Brady Bunch and favorite Buccaneers quarterback, Tom. Brady was a relatively popular name in the early 2000s, ranked in the 300s in Ireland and the 90s in the U.S. But, it’s been declining ever since, which shouldn’t stop you from choosing this cute and friendly “B” name for your bumbling baby boy!
- Cute, Friendly
- Brian is an Irish name meaning “noble” or “strong.”
- The exact origins of this name are a bit unclear. Most scholars believe it derived from the Old Celtic word “bre,” meaning “hill” or “exalted one.” Brian was a top pick in the U.S. and Ireland during the 70s and 80s. But, like boomboxes and shag carpets, it has since fallen out of fashion, replaced by trendier “B” names like Bradan and Bennett. But, Brian is still holding firm in South America, where it has steadily risen in popularity since the 1990s.
- Brogan is an Irish name meaning “little shoe.”
- Brogan is a classic surname in Ireland derived from the Gaelic word “brog,” meaning “shoe.” Its holiest bearer is St.Brogan, who was St.Patrick’s nephew and scribe. Brogan is a trendy choice in its homeland, ranked within the top 300 Irish names for boys in 2020. Although Brogan hasn’t been on the U.S. charts since 2012, Logan is currently the #16 top pick. So, a similar-sounding Brogan could be a unique alternative.
- Burke is an Irish name meaning “fortified manor.”
- Burke is a prevalent surname in Ireland. It is a variation of the Anglo-Norman family name De Burgh, which first arrived in Ireland when Knight William de Burgh settled there in 1185. Despite its origins, it has taken on a new role as a given name for boys in recent years. While real-life namesakes are few and far between, several fictional Burke’s have made center-stage, including the leader of the private militia group in Rampage and the male lead in the 2009 rom-com Love Happens.
- Cairbre is an Irish male name meaning “charioteer.”
- Popular during the Middle Ages, Cairbre was the name of a legendary King of Tara and a famed Ulster warrior. However, Cairbre is now virtually extinct in Ireland, with no records of any babies receiving this name. The anglicized versions, Carbrey and Carbry, also aren’t winning any popularity contests, with neither version making the U.S. top 1000. On the bright side, your Cairbre will likely be the only one in his class (or in the entire school) with this name.
- Ancient, Unusual
- One of several Irish boy names derived from a surname, Callahan means “bright-headed.”
- Callahan is the anglicized version of the family name O Ceallachain. It’s a pretty common last name in Ireland, which has prevented it from becoming a popular choice for boys. However, this isn’t the case in the U.S., where Callahan was able to squeeze into the top 1000 boys’ names in 2019 and 2020. Try using the nicknames Cali or Han to give this traditional name a modern edge.
- Masculine, Powerful
- Caolan means “eternal warrior” or “slender lad” in Irish.
- Pronounced kay-lun or kale-un, Caolan is an old Irish name that has become a fashionable choice in Northern Ireland in recent years. It sounds similar to popular U.S. names Kayden, Kaden, and Camden. However, it has yet to make its mark in the States. Now could be the perfect time to hop on the Caolan train before it makes its way into the mainstream.
- Cool, Unique
- Carson is an Irish and Scottish boy’s name meaning “son of the marsh dwellers.”
- A perfect pick for any guy born in the 21st century, Carson has it all. It’s cool, and modern-sounding yet has traditional Irish roots, making it an all-around great name. U.S. parents seem to love Carson, ranking within the top 100 since 2006. The Irish, however, seem to be immune to Carson’s masculine charm, putting it way back at #402 in 2020. A cute nickname is Car, especially if your little guy loves playing with Hot Wheels!
- Popular, Trendy
- Cashel means “stone fort” in Irish.
- Cashel is a place name derived from a town in County Tipperary, Ireland. This pleasant-sounding guy’s name has yet to make an appearance in the U.S., so it could be a unique choice if your son is Irish-American. Walk the Line and Ring of Fire fans will enjoy the most apparent nickname, Cash. Nature-lovers may prefer the less obvious Shel or Shell.
- Cathal is an Irish male name meaning “a great warrior.”
- A common name during the Middle Ages, Cathal has reinstated its popularity in Ireland in the 21st century. In 2020, it ranked as the 68th most popular Irish name for boys throughout the Emerald Isle. However, in the States, Cathal is pretty much unheard of, never making the top 1000. Even the anglicized versions of this name, Cathel, Cahal, Cahill, and Kathel, have never made a blip on the U.S. radar.
- Cavan is an Irish name meaning “hollow.”
- Derived from a county in Ireland, Cavan is the cutest place name you ever did see! Often used as an alternative for Kevin, this charming “C” name doesn’t have any clout in Ireland or the U.S., not ranked in either country. A famous bearer is Cavan Scott, who is best known for his work on several spin-offs of Star Wars and Doctor Who.
- Modern, Charming
- Cian is an Irish name meaning “ancient” or “enduring.”
- Pronounced KEE-en, Cian is a traditional Gaelic name found in several Irish legends and myths. It’s very trendy in the Emerald Isle, currently ranked as the 24th most popular Irish name for boys. The English alternative, Kian, has been on the rise in the U.S. since 2000, making its way to #452 in 2020. Famous bearers are Irish rugby player Cian Healy and Irish equestrian Cian O’Connor.
- Old, Beautiful, Popular
- Cillian is an Irish name for boys with two possible meanings: “little church” or “war strife.”
- Pronounced KILL-ee-un, Cillian has been a top 20 pick in Ireland since 2017. The anglicized version, Killian, is also starting to make waves in the U.S., ranked #351 in 2020, and may eventually make its way to the top 100. The apparent nickname for Killian isn’t exactly pleasant. So, we recommend you call your son by his full name or go with the less obvious choice of Ian instead.
- Clooney is an Irish boy’s name with two potential meanings: “green pasture” or “an intriguing rogue.”
- While naming your son Clooney won’t ensure that he’ll get George’s distinctive good looks, it sure can’t hurt! Like many other Irish male names on our list, Clooney is a classic surname now being used as a given name for men. However, it’s still very uncommon, meaning it’s ripe for the picking! Good nicknames are Clue or Clo. However, Loo and Looney are best to be avoided.
- Colin is a French and Irish name meaning “cub.”
- Colin is the anglicized form of the Gaelic names Cuilen and Cailean. The modern spelling has been in use in Ireland since the 14th century, so Colin is surprisingly old. However, Collin with two “l’s” has an entirely different origin, initially used as a shortened form of the French name Nicolas. This sweet guy’s name could be perfect for the newest “cub” in your pack!
- Colm is an Irish male name meaning “dove.”
- Pronounced cahl-em, Colm can be spelled in several ways, including Colum and Colom. In Ireland, it was one of the top Irish names for boys from the 60s to the early 2000s. However, it has since fallen out of favor. In the U.S., Colm has never made the top 1000, making it a genuinely unique selection for your baby on the way!
- Conan is an Irish boy’s name meaning “little warrior.”
- A name previously associated with the mighty Barbarian, Conan now has a softer, more approachable feel thanks to famous late-night host Conan O’Brien. Conan isn’t ranked in the U.S., making it a unique alternative for the more popular Connor or Colin. In Ireland, Conan ranked 226th in 2020, so it’s familiar but not overused.
- Conor means “lover of wolves” in Irish.
- The name of a legendary king in Irish Mythology, Conor is a strong choice among our Irish names for boys. It is very popular in Ireland, where it’s been a top 5 pick since 1994. Although Conor is ranked lower in the U.S. at #402, the double “n” version hasn’t left the top 100 since 1992, so it’s still well-liked. Modern bearers include Irish UFC fighter Conor McGregor and American singer and songwriter Conor Oberst.
- Corey is a Gaelic name meaning “in a hollow.”
- Corey functions as a given name and a surname. Many variations exist, including Cory, Coire, Correy, Kory, and Kori. Several 70s and 80s icons bore this name, such as Raekwon from Wu-Tang Clan and the lead vocalist from Slipknot. Like many 80s fads, Corey is now a relic of the past, falling from #52 in 1977 to #525 in 2020. However, Corey still has a shot in Ireland, where it’s currently the 147th most popular pick for boys.
- Cormac is an Irish name with two potential meanings: “raven” or “wheel.”
- Cormac is an ancient name that has been used in Ireland for centuries. It’s likely derived from the word “mac,” meaning “son,” and “corb” meaning “wheel,” which may refer to someone who fought on a chariot in battle. Other sources suggest “cor” comes from the old Irish word for “raven,” which was an important animal in Celtic myths. Cormac belonged to several ancient rulers, bishops, and princes, including the legendary High King of Ireland, Cormac Mac Airt.
- Cullen is an Irish, Scottish, and English name with two potential meanings: “holy man” and “holly tree.”
- Made famous by everyone’s favorite vampire flick, Twilight, Cullen is a cool name that isn’t overdone. It’s derived from the Gaelic family name O’Cuileannain, a powerful clan with roots in Eastern Ireland. Cullen is still a common surname in the land of Eire, so it typically isn’t given to boys. In the U.S., Cullen has been used as a given name since 1905. It reached its peak in 2010 and 2011, shortly after Twilight hit the big screen. As of 2020, it ranked #684, so it could be a unique choice if you are ok with Edward Cullen’s association.
- Unique, Old-fashioned
- Daithi is an Irish name for boys meaning “swiftness.”
- Pronounced DAH-hee, Daithi is the Irish version of the Hebrew name David. In Ireland, it was ranked within the top 500 Irish male names in 2020. Daithi receives minimal usage outside the Emerald Isle. Since this name refers to being fast, it’s no wonder that many of the bearers are athletes, including Irish hurler Burke and Irish soccer players Carroll and Casey.
- Darragh is an Irish name meaning “oak tree.”
- Pronounced DAR-ah, Darragh is one of the most popular Irish names for boys in its home country. In 2020 it was ranked #12, and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon! Common spelling variations are Dara and Daire. In Celtic mythology, Darragh was the underworld god who could control life and death, time, and the seasons.
- Charming, Traditional
- Declan is an Irish name with two potential meanings: “man of prayer” or “full of goodness.”
- Declan was the name of the saint who brought Christianity to Ireland during the 5th century. He is famous for establishing the Monastery of Ardmore, which lies in present-day County Waterford. This holy name has gradually decreased in popularity in Ireland since the 1960s. But Declan has just started its rise to fame in the U.S., ranking within the top 100 for the first time in 2019.
- Desmond is an Irish name for boys meaning “one from South Munster.”
- A sophisticated place name for boys, Desmond is the anglicized version of Deas-Mhumhna, the Irish word for South Munster. There have been several noteworthy Desmonds, including anti-apartheid activist Desmond Tutu and famous 007 actor Desmond Llewelyn. Desmond
- Isn’t rare in the States, but it isn’t common, ranked #365 in 2020. In Ireland, Desmond was considered a groovy choice in the 60s but has since fallen out of favor.
- Sophisticated, Sleek
- Devlin is an Irish male name meaning “unlucky.”
- A devilish alternative for Devin or Declan, Devlin is derived from the surname O’Dobhailein, meaning “descendant of the unfortunate one.” Although its association with the red man may be unappealing for some, you can also think of a “devil” as a rogue who will carve his own path through life. Devlin has never been ranked in the U.S. top 1000, making it a perfect choice for those who wish to raise an independent boy, who doesn’t play by the rules!
- Cool, Unusual
- Diarmuid is an Irish boy’s name meaning “without envy.”
- Pronounced deer-mid, Diarmuid was a skilled warrior and the lover of Grainne, the most beautiful woman in Ireland according to Irish Mythology. Diarmuid is often anglicized as Jeremiah or Jeremy, even though these names are not related. In 2020, only five boys in Ireland were given this name. Similarly, in the U.S., Diarmuid has never made the top 1000, making it a rare choice in both countries.
- Ancient, Unusual
- Dillon is an Irish name for boys meaning “a flash of lightning.”
- A less popular form of the Welsh name Dylan, Dillon is an Irish surname and given name. In Ireland, it was ranked #294 in 2020, which was much lower than Dylan’s ranking of #28. Dillon is even less prevalent in the U.S., where it hasn’t made the top 500 since 2016. The Dylan spelling is very trendy, currently ranked #43. If you like the name Dylan but have popular-phobia, then Dillon could be the perfect solution.
- Cool, Traditional
- Donald is an Irish and Scottish name meaning “ruler of the world.”
- Derived from the Gaelic word Domhnall, Donald has decreased in popularity in recent years. While the name used to bear an association with Disney’s ill-tempered sailor duck, it is now associated with the controversial 45th president of the United States. As of 2020, it ranked #610, its lowest ranking in U.S. history. If you like this name, you could also consider using the more casual Donnie, Donny, or Don.
- Strong, Old-fashioned
- Donovan means “dark” in Irish.
- Donovan is derived from the surname O’Donovan, inspired by the 10th-century ruler of Ireland, Donnuban mac Cathail. This suave boy’s name could be another alternative for Donald, especially because they share the same nicknames of Don and Donny. Donovan was popular in Jamaica in the 60s and 70s, with three prominent athletes and a notable reggae producer bearing this name.
- Sophisticated, Powerful
- Duncan is an Irish and Scottish boy’s name meaning “dark-haired warrior.”
- It is the anglicized form of the Gaelic Donnchadh, which consists of “donn,” meaning “dark-haired or chief,” and “cath,” meaning “battle.” King Duncan I of Scotland inspired the character in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. This friendly name is familiar and easy to pronounce yet not overused.
- Eamon is an Irish male name meaning “guardian of the riches.”
- Pronounced AY-mon, Eamon is the Irish form of the English name Edmund. Eamon is pretty typical in Ireland, where it’s remained within the top 500 Irish names for boys since the 1960s. This name is virtually unheard of in the U.S., where it’s never reached the top 1000. Eamon could be an original choice if your son is Irish American.
- Emmet is a Germanic, English, or Hebrew name meaning “truth” or “ant.”
- Although Emmet doesn’t have Irish origins, it is a popular choice among Irish Americans and Irish natives, thanks to famed patriot Robert Emmet. He attempted to reinstate Ireland’s sovereignty by overthrowing English rule in the late 1700s. Although he was unsuccessful, Emmet is still considered to be a symbol of Irish pride. Emmet is a classic name that is strong yet beautiful, making it a sophisticated choice for any boy born in the 21st century!
- Eoghan is an Irish boy’s name meaning “noble-born.”
- Eoghan, pronounced as OH-in, is often anglicized as Owen, Ewan, Euan, or Eugene. It was the name of two Irish kings as well as an Irish saint who founded the monastery of Ardstraw. Modern-day bearers include Irish journalist and historian Eoghan Corry and professional rugby player Eoghan Hickey.
- One of the holiest Irish names for boys, Eoin means “God is gracious.”
- Eoin is viewed as the Irish version of John. Like Eoghan, it is pronounced OH-in, so some mistakenly believe these two Irish boy names are related. However, they have different origins, with Eoghan arising from a Celtic word and Eoin deriving from the Latin name loannes, the medieval form of John. Although Eoin is a top pick in Ireland, it’s virtually unheard of in the U.S., making it a terrific alternative to Owen and John.
- Religious, Strong
- Faolan is an Irish Gaelic name for boys meaning “little wolf.”
- It is derived from the old Irish word “faelan,” meaning “wolf,” and is traditionally pronounced FWAY-lawn. It has been anglicized as FAY-lan or FEE-lan in English-speaking countries. Common spelling variations are Fillin and Phelan. This powerful guy’s name is perfect if you are a nature-lover or just love howling at the moon.
- Felim is an Irish name for boys meaning “beauty” or “ever good.”
- Pronounced FEH-lim, Felim is derived from the old Irish name Feidlimid. It is often anglicized as Feilmy, Phelim, or Felix. Several ancient kings and saints proudly bore this name, including Saint Felim, a Catholic priest and hermit during the sixth century.
- Old, Beautiful
- Fergus is an Irish male name meaning “the strong and masculine one.”
- In Irish myths, Fergus was the King of Ulster. He was tricked into giving his throne to Conchobar, the son of his lover, Nessa. When he realizes he had been deceived, he sides with the rival queen, Medb, and helps her take over Ulster. This quirky yet charming boy’s name has been used for several animated characters, including King Fergus from Brave and one of Shrek and Fiona’s children in Shrek Forever After. Potential nicknames are Ferg or Gus.
- Ferris is an Irish and English boy’s name meaning “rock.”
- This cute first name has never made its way to the top 500 in Ireland or the U.S., despite the popular top-grossing 80s film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Just because this boy’s name has never been popular doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a chance! Ferris is adorable and easy to pronounce, making it a top-notch selection for your little guy. A bonus is its association with the fun carnival ride!
- Finnian means “fair” in Irish.
- Finnian is a friendly name that could be an excellent alternative for the more popular Finlay and Finley. You can easily shorten it to Finn for an adorable nickname! Several notable Catholics bore this name, including an Irish missionary and the saint who founded the monastery of Clonard. Finnian could be an excellent choice if you want to call your son something with religious connotations that isn’t as obvious as Adam or Noah.
- Friendly, Happy
- Fintan is an Irish name for boys meaning “white fire.”
- The name of an ancient Irish saint and the sole figure in Irish mythology to survive the Great Flood, Fintan is a traditional choice that feels surprisingly modern. It could be a great option if you love the fashionable nickname, Finn. Spelling variations include Fionntan and Fiontan.
- Cool, Unique
- Flynn is an Irish name meaning “descendant of the red-haired one.”
- It derives from the Surname O’Floinn, meaning “descendant of Flann” or “reddish one.” Although it is still primarily used as a surname, it managed to squeeze into the U.S. top 1000 in 2011 and has remained on the charts ever since. This may have something to do with the charming (and slightly mischievous) male protagonist from Disney’s hit animated film, Tangled. Flynn seems to be a trendy pick among the stars, with Orlando Bloom and YouTuber Colleen Ballinger (AKA Miranda Sings) choosing it for their sons.
- Charming, Cute
- Gallagher means “foreign help” in Irish.
- Gallagher is still primarily used as a surname, so it could be a genuinely unique choice for your son’s first or middle name! While men named Gallagher are rarer than snow in summer, several famous last name bearers exist, including Oasis band members Noel and Liam and actor David, best known for his role as Simon Camden in 7th Heaven.
- Unique, Masculine
- Glenn is an Irish name meaning “in the valley.”
- Used as a surname and given name, Glenn is derived from the Gaelic word “gleann,” meaning “valley.” This nature-inspired name first became popular in the U.S. during World War II. It remained within the top 100 throughout the 1960s before falling out of fashion. Today, it isn’t even within the top 1000, making it an unusual choice. Even though Glenn is a little old-fashioned, it is still an excellent name due to its beautiful meaning and friendly charm. Consider a modern spelling like Glen, Glyn, or Glynn to make it a bit fresher.
- One of many Irish male names derived from a surname, Grady means “noble.”
- In ancient Ireland, the O’Grady’s were a powerful clan that originated in Limerick and Clare counties. This family name is still prevalent in the Emerald Isle, so boys named Grady are pretty much nonexistent. However, this isn’t the case in the U.S., where Grady has been a common choice for Irish American men since the 1900s. In 2020, Grady was slightly less popular than similar-sounding Brady, which could be a good or a bad thing depending on how mainstream you want your son’s name to be.
- Modern, Friendly
- Keegan is a trendy choice among our Irish boy names, meaning “son of Egan.”
- Keegan is a modern version of the Old Irish clan name Mac Aodhagain. While it is still a relatively common surname, it’s more frequently used as a given name, ranked #168 in Ireland and #494 in the U.S. This friendly title is just as cool as Liam and Connor, but it isn’t overused. Keegan could be perfect if you want something on-trend that won’t require your son to be distinguished from other children in his class (like Liam 1, Liam 2, Liam 3, and Liam 4)!
- Cool, Popular
- Keenan is an Irish boy’s name meaning “ancient or distant.”
- It’s derived from the Gaelic surname O’Cianain, meaning “the descendant of the faithful one.” This is very appropriate, considering the O’Cianain clan was well-known for their many high-ranking church members throughout the Middle Ages. This attractive boy’s name has fallen off the radar in Ireland and the U.S., slowly declining in popularity since the early 2000s. Despite this, we think Keenan is a sleek and stylish name that’s in the same league as similar-sounding Kayden, Keegan, and Kieran.
- Sophisticated, Sleek
- Kellen is an Irish name for boys meaning “eternal warrior” or “slender lad.”
- Kellen is a modern variation of the traditional Irish name Caolan. It has a sporty feel, so it could be an excellent choice for a little athlete in the making. In fact, many famous Kellan’s are sports stars, including football players Davis, Mond, and Moore and tennis player Damico. However, the most famous Kellen is the actor who played Emmett in the hit vampire flick, Twilight. Potential nicknames are Kel or Len.
- Cool, Modern
- Kerrigan is an Irish name meaning “dark-featured.”
- Ideal for a little boy with dark hair and eyes, Kerrigan is a variation of the Irish surname Kerry. Nowadays, Kerry is almost exclusively used for girls, making Kerrigan a more suitable pick for your little man in the making! It has the “-igan” ending like Finnigan or Gilligan, giving it that traditional Irish sound.
- Kevin is an Irish male name meaning “handsome.”
- A 90s favorite, Kevin has made its mark in several countries. In France, it became one of the first non-French names ever to receive the #1 ranking. It was also popular in Germany in 1991, thanks to the clever kid protagonist who bore this name in the Christmas classic film, Home Alone. Kevin has been a favorite in the U.S. and Ireland for many years. However, it recently left the top 100 in both countries. Despite this, we think Kevin is a solid Irish name that will never go out of style!
- Lennon is an Irish name meaning “lover.”
- An appealing name for Beatles fans, Lennon is a trendy pick for boys and girls. This cool name has managed to stay out of the mainstream, currently ranked #688 in the U.S. and #294 in Ireland. If you are looking for a unique boy’s name to impress your friends and family, Lennon could be the right call.
- Trendy, Unique
- Liam is one of the most popular Irish boy names on our list, meaning “strong protector.”
- Liam has been the #1 pick in the U.S. for the last four years, and we get why. It is short yet strong, traditional yet modern-sounding, and seems fresh and unique despite its overwhelming popularity. Ireland appears to agree with us, ranking Liam within the top 10 Irish names for boys in 2020. If Liam is too conventional for your taste, consider naming your son the old Irish name Uilliam and using Liam as a nickname.
- Popular, Modern
- Lochlan is an Irish boy’s name meaning “land of the lochs.”
- Pronounced lock-lun, Lochlan is the anglicized form of the Gaelic word Lachlann. It will likely bring the Loch Ness monster to mind, which may or may not be a good thing depending on how you feel about mythical sea creatures. In 2020, it ranked #727 in the U.S. and #402 in Ireland, so you’re unlikely to encounter it too often (just like Nessie)! Traditional nicknames include Lachie, Lachy, and Lockie.
- Cool, Unique
- Lonan is an Irish name meaning “little blackbird.”
- One of the best Irish boy names for nature lovers, Lonan is derived from the old Gaelic word Lon, meaning “blackbird.” This sweet name is flying under the radar in Ireland and the U.S., not ranked within the top 1000 in either country. It could be a unique alternative to the super-popular Scottish Gaelic name Logan.
- Beautiful, Unique
- Lorcan means “little fierce one” in Irish.
- A name that is strong enough for a warrior yet strange enough for a creature in a sci-fi flick, Lorcan has a lot of range. In ancient Ireland, Lorcan was the name of several kings, including the father of famed Irish hero Brian Boru. This oddly appealing name is moderately popular in Ireland, ranked #158 in 2020. However, it is virtually undiscovered in the U.S., making it an unusual alternative to trendy Irish picks like Connor and Liam.
- Lugaid is an Irish name for men meaning “oath.”
- A popular name during Medieval times, Lugaid is an unconventional choice in the 21st century. Scholars believe it is derived from Lug, the god of truth, oaths, and the arts in Irish mythology. Several kings bore this name, including Lugaid Loigde, the legendary High King of Ireland and ruler of Tara.
- Ancient, Unusual
- Mack is a Gaelic name meaning “son of.”
- Mack is a variation of Mac or Mc. These titles are often used as prefixes for Gaelic surnames, such as in MacCarthy or MacGregor. However, Mack also functions as a stand-alone name. Mack is more popular than Mac in the U.S., potentially because the “k” makes it look complete. In Ireland, however, neither version is prevalent, with Mack never making the charts and Mac not being ranked since 1996. This strong boy’s name sounds good all by itself or when used as a nickname for a longer title, such as MacKenzie, Macsen, or Cormac.
- Strong, Masculine
- Maguire is an Irish name meaning “son of the beige one” or “dark-colored one.”
- A very uncommon given name for boys, Maguire is ripe and ready for the picking! It is a prevalent surname in Ireland and the U.S., which is the primary reason why so few people choose it for their sons. Historically, the Maguires were a powerful clan known for their courage and sense of justice. If you are ok with going against the norm (and don’t have Maguire as your surname), then it could be a unique choice for your little guy!
- Charming, Happy
- Malachy is an Irish name meaning “messenger of God.”
- It is the Irish version of the Hebrew name Malachi. The holiest bearer was Saint Malachy, the first native-born Irish saint who was the Archbishop of Armagh from 1132 to 1137 CE.
- Modern-day Malachys include a fictional character from the British soap opera Hollyoaks and Irish-American actor, writer, and politician, Malachy McCourt. A furry namesake is Palacegarden Malachy, a male Pekingese who won the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2012. Malachy is ranked #280 in Ireland, making it a familiar yet underutilized pick.
- Common, Religious
- Malone means “devotee of St.John” in Irish.
- This classic Irish surname is very rarely given to boys, making it a unique selection. Like all “lone” names, Malone is sleek and sophisticated. It could be a terrific alternative to its more popular cousin, Sloane. If you need even more proof that Malone is cool, check out rapper Post Malone, who chose it as part of his stage name.
- Cool, Sophisticated
- Muiris is an Irish boy’s name meaning “chosen by the sea.”
- Pronounced mwir-ish, Muiris is often anglicized as Maurice, even though these names are unrelated. The traditional form is Muirgheas, but it’s less popular due to its complexity. Naming your son Muiris ensures that he’ll be in the company of kings, with several Irish rulers bearing this name.
- Murphy means “sea warrior” in Irish.
- Murphy is the most common surname in Ireland. In modern times, it’s also a unisex name, with a strong preference for males. This mighty “M” name ranked within the U.S. top 1000 until the 1950s when it fell off the charts. In 2020, it squeezed back into the rankings at #967, so it could be an up-and-comer. Beloved comedian and actor Eddie Murphy is the most notable bearer. Potential nicknames include Murph or Mur.
- Cool, Powerful
- Nevin is an Irish name for boys with two potential meanings: “holy” or “little bone.”
- Nevin is a somewhat less appealing (albeit more unique) alternative to the Irish Kevin or the English Devin. This fascinating “N” name may be derived from the Gaelic surname Mac Naoimhin, meaning “holy saint,” or from the personal name Cnamhin, meaning “little bone,” a reference to a thin man.
- Niall is an Irish name with two potential meanings: “cloud” and “champion.”
- Pronounced NYE-al, Niall is a much cooler version of the more common Neil. Scholars traced it to Niall, the legendary High King of Ireland, whose ancestors dominated Ireland’s northern half for several centuries. If you’re a One Direction fan, you’ll enjoy this name’s connection with Niall Horan. However, if boy bands make you want to scream (in a bad way), Niall’s link to Harvard historian Ferguson or soccer player Quinn may be more appealing.
- Nolan is an Irish name meaning “son of a champion.”
- It derived from O’Nuallain, a family name given to the descendants of chariot fighters and champions. One of the trendiest Irish male names, Nolan was ranked #61 in U.S. boy’s name in 2020. All signs indicate that Nolan will continue to rise in the ranks through 2021 and beyond. Famous bearers are Inception and Dark Knight Rises director Christopher Nolan and actor Nolan Gerard Funk.
- Popular, Trendy
- Nollaig means “Christmas” in Irish.
- Nollaig, pronounced null-ig, is a gender-neutral name traditionally given to babies born on Christmas day. Even if your due date isn’t December 25th, Nollaig could be an attractive choice if your son is born anytime during the holidays or if you simply want a name that’ll spread Christmas cheer! It is often anglicized as Noel.
- Cute, Happy
- Odhran is an Irish male name meaning “tall dark man.”
- Odhran was the name of a prominent Irish saint who was the charioteer for Saint Patrick and the first Christian martyr in Irish history. In 2020, Odhran ranked within the top 100 Irish boy names in Ireland. It is often anglicized as Oran or Orin in English-speaking countries since these spellings are closer to the phonetic pronunciation.
- Traditional, Strong
- Oisin is an Irish name for boys meaning “little deer.”
- In Irish mythology, Oisin was a legendary warrior of the Fianna, regarded as the most accomplished poet in Ireland. The meaning comes from Oisin’s mother, who was transformed into a deer by a religious leader named Fear Doirche. Oisin is often anglicized as Osheen, which is the phonetic spelling.
- Ancient, Beautiful
- Oscar is an Irish and English name meaning “friend of deer” or “deer-lover.”
- Oscar is a popular choice among Ireland natives, Irish Americans, and non-Irish folks alike! In the States, it’s never left the top 300, currently ranked #215. In Ireland, Oscar has been on the rise since 1992, making it into the top 50 Irish names for boys since 2013. It is also a common choice in France and Spain. Namesakes range from the prominent poet Oscar Wilde to the pitiful muppet Oscar the Grouch.
- Padraig is an Irish name for boys meaning “nobly born.”
- It’s derived from the Latin Patricius, meaning “of the ruling class.” Padraig is pronounced POR-rick, which may be confusing for your non-Irish friends and family. Because of this, many Irish Americans go for the more typical Patrick instead. The most notable namesake was St. Pádraig, the patron saint of Ireland who converted thousands to Christianity.
- Friendly, Traditional
- Piran is an Irish name for boys meaning “dark one.”
- Piran’s exact origins are unknown. It sounds like a mixture between Pierce and Kieran, although many think it’s a variation of the Celtic name Ciaran. The most famous bearer was St. Piran, a Catholic priest who was the patron saint of tin-miners and Cornwall. Currently, Piran isn’t among the top 1000 Irish names for boys in Ireland or the U.S., so it could be an excellent option if you’re looking for something off the beaten path.
- Quinn is an Irish name with two potential meanings: “descendant of Conn” or “intelligent.”
- Derived from the Celtic surname O’Cuinn, Quinn is a trendy personal name for boys and girls. While Quinn used to be predominantly male, it’s recently swung to the feminine side, ranked #85 in the U.S. and #275 in Ireland. Quinn is still an excellent name for guys, with many famous men bearing this name, including basketball player Buckner, former NFL player Bailey, and TikTok star Sullivan.
- Cool, Trendy
- Redmond means “wise protector” in Irish.
- Redmond is derived from the Gaelic family name Mac Reamoinn. It is considered to be the Irish version of the English and French Raymond. While it’s commonly used as a surname, some first-name bearers exist. The most famous are Olympic snowboarder Redmond Gerard, who goes by the nickname Red, and British travel writer Redmond O’Hanlon, known for traveling into the world’s most remote jungles. Although it’s long, Redmond is an elegant and powerful first or middle name option for your little man!
- Strong, Sophisticated
- Riley is an Irish name meaning “courageous.”
- Riley is a unisex name that has taken off for girls in recent years. This is especially true in the U.S., where Riley ranked #33 for females in 2020. In Ireland, however, Riley is more evenly matched, classified as #147 for boys and #138 for girls. Several male Riley’s are helping to maintain its unisex classification, including blues singer Riley B. King and True Blood actor Riley Smith.
- Popular, Happy
- Riordan is an Irish boy’s name meaning “royal poet.”
- Pronounced reer-don, Riordan is another surname turned boy’s name in the 21st century. It’s derived from the Gaelic “rí,” meaning “king,” and “bardan,” meaning “poet.” Historically, poets were a big deal in Ireland. They were vital members of the royal household who often served as advisors to the king. So, naming your son Riordan is actually a great honor!
- Ronan is an Irish name for boys meaning “little seal.”
- A perfect name for animal lovers, Ronan derives from an old Irish legend. In the tale, a female seal strays too close to shore and is transformed into a human. She marries a fisherman and has several children known as “ronans” (little seals). Eventually, she finds her seal skin and returns to the ocean. However, she never forgets about her family, constantly swimming by the shore to keep a loving eye. Ronan seems to have received the “seal” of approval from the Catholic church, with 12 saints receiving this name throughout history.
- Trendy, Beautiful
- Rooney means “descendant of Ruanaidh” or “champion” in Irish.
- Yet another Irish name for boys derived from a surname, Rooney, is an underappreciated choice. This youthful name has only been given as a personal name a handful of times, including Olympic rower Rooney Massara and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo actress Rooney Mara. Although Rooney is unusual, it’s a spunky name with a lot of potential. It has a couple of excellent nicknames built-in, including Ro and Roon.
- Unusual, Friendly
- Rory is a royal choice among our Irish names for boys meaning “red-haired king.”
- Despite being only four letters, this short “r” name has a powerful ring to it. A name fit for a king, Rory has been chosen for several rulers beginning in the Middle Ages. The most notable was King Rory O’More, who led the Irish Rebellion of 1641 to end Catholic persecution. While Rory is considered a strictly masculine name in Ireland, England, and Wales, it’s crossed gender lines in the U.S. However, it’s still most commonly given to boys.
- Cool, Trendy
- Ryan means “little king” in Irish.
- A favorite among our Irish names for boys, Ryan has been at the top of the U.S. charts since the early 2000s. Ryan is also a hit in the Emerald Isle, ranked in the top 30 Irish male names since 1993. If you like Ryan but think it’s a little overdone, consider going for the more traditional Rian instead.
- Seamus is an Irish boy’s name meaning “supplanter.”
- It is the Irish equivalent of the English name James. A relatively popular pick in Ireland, Seamus is pretty uncommon in the States. Unfortunately, Seamus has a rocky history in the U.S., previously used as a derogatory term for Irish immigrants who moved to the country during the 19th century. Naming your son Seamus could be a way to honor your Irish American ancestors and the challenges they overcame.
- One of the most religious Irish boy names, Sean, means “God’s gracious gift.”
- Sean is derived from the French Jean, which is another version of the Hebrew Yohanan. Since Gaelic doesn’t have the letter “J,” an “S” was substituted, giving us Sean. Sean has inspired many other trendy “S” names, including Shawn, Shaun, Shane, and Shayne. Sean was popular in the U.S. during the early and mid-2000s. However, it is now trailing behind more modern picks like Liam and Rory. In Ireland, Sean is still holding its own, ranked within the top 100 Irish boy names since the 1960s.
- Common, Religious
- Shay is an Irish and Hebrew name meaning “supplanter.”
- Shay is a variant of Shea and are both anglicized versions of the old Irish name O’ Seaghdha. This smooth-sounding name feels very modern, despite its traditional Irish roots. Shay is very on-trend in Ireland, ranked as the 53rd most popular name for boys in 2020. In the U.S., Shay is lagging, and it tends to be given to females. If Shay isn’t long enough or manly enough for your liking, consider the more masculine Seamus or Shane and use Shay as a nickname.
- Sleek, Modern
- Sloan is an Irish name meaning “man of arms” or “warrior.”
- Unisex names are all the rage nowadays, making Sloan a very trendy pick. Typically, Sloane with an “e” is reserved for females, and Sloan is used for males. Grey’s Anatomy fans will enjoy this name’s association with the attractive surgeon, Mark Sloan. While Sloan is still primarily used as a surname, this sleek “S” name could be a sophisticated Irish name for boys if given a chance.
- Sophisticated, Unusual
- Sullivan is an Irish male name meaning “dark-eyed one.”
- O’Sullivan is the third most popular surname in Ireland, ensuring that Sullivan won’t be a prominent personal name anytime soon. But this isn’t the case in the U.S and Australia, where Sullivan has sparingly been given to boys since the early 2000s. Famous namesakes include actor Sullivan Sweeten from Everybody Loves Raymond and Sullivan Stapleton from The Secret Life of Us. Disney fans will immediately think of the sweet monster protagonist from the 2001 film Monsters Inc. Potential nicknames are Sull or Sully.
- Cute, Charming
- Tadhg is an Irish name for males meaning “poet” or “philosopher.”
- Tadhg is pronounced like the word tiger without the “r.” A phonetic nightmare for English-speakers, Tadhg is trendy in Ireland, ranked #18 in 2020. At one time, Tadhg was so common in the Emerald Isle that it was used to describe a typical Irishman, similar to the English expression “average Joe.” It is often anglicized as Teague, Tighe, Teige, or Taig. It is sometimes viewed as the Irish equivalent of Thaddeus and Timothy, even though these names aren’t related.
- Tiernan means “little lord” in Irish.
- A name that’s never been ranked in the U.S., Tiernan is a typical pick in its home country, placed just outside the top 100 Irish boy names in 2020. This edgy pick could be a fresher alternative for more popular “an” names, like Kieran, Tristan, and Aidan.
- Tiernan has been around since Medieval times, borne by several kings and saints, including the 12th-century ruler of Breifne, Ireland.
- Torin is an Irish name for males meaning “chief.”
- It has been sparingly used over the years, with famous namesakes like Olympic skier Torin Koos, 7th Heaven actor Toran Caudell, and British actor Torin Thatcher, known for his theatric portrayals of several on-screen villains. Potential nicknames are Tor, Tori, or Rin. Torin isn’t ranked in the U.S. and is #637 in Ireland, so it’s a pretty unusual choice in either country.
- Cool, Unique
- Tristan is an Irish male name meaning “outcry” or “sorrowful.”
- Are you a fan of tragic romances like Romeo and Juliet? If so, Tristan could be the sentimental, heart-rending name you’ve been searching for.
- According to Celtic legend, Tristan was a warrior tasked with bringing Irish Princess Iseult back to marry his uncle, King Mark. But the couple accidentally took a love potion during their journey, resulting in them falling madly in love. Their relationship was doomed from the start, leading to Tristan’s eventual banishment and death. In Spanish and French, “triste” means “sad,” so Tristan seems to be a beautifully devastating choice across the board.
- Turlough means “one who instigates” in Irish.
- Pronounced ter-low, Turlough is the anglicized form of the Irish given name Toirdelbach. It was prevalent during the Middle Ages, with several Irish chiefs and kings bearing this name. Turlough was also the name of a blind Celtic harper during the late 1600s, who was well-known in Ireland for his beautiful melodic compositions. It was ranked #741 in Ireland in 2020, making it a rare choice.
- Tyrone is an Irish name meaning “from the land of the Yew Tree.”
- This bonafide Irish boy’s name has various associations with the Emerald Isle. In ancient times, it was the name of a Kingdom in Gaelic Ireland, renamed County Tyrone during the 17th century. This adorable place name was semi-common in the States during the early 2000s but has since disappeared from the charts. It isn’t doing much better in Ireland, with less than three boys receiving this name in 2020. Despite its lack of popularity, Tyrone still has a lovable, old-fashioned charm! Cute nicknames include Ty or Rone.
- Ultan is an Irish name meaning “man from Ulster.”
- Ultan is pretty typical in Ireland but has never made much of an impact anywhere else. It was the name of 18 Irish saints, making it a very appropriate choice if your family is Catholic. The most notable was St.Ultan of Ardbraccan, the patron saint of children who cared for many sick orphans during his lifetime. Today, there is a hospital in Dublin named in his honor.
- Traditional, Religious
Irish Names FAQs
Are you tired of overused Irish boy names like Liam, Connor, and Aidan? If so, you’re in luck! Some more unique and authentic options include Diarmuid, Ferris, Piran, and Cairbre.
Additionally, several Irish male names are common in Ireland but rare in the U.S., such as Seamus, Tadhg, Daithi, and Odhran.
According to the Central Statistics Office of Ireland, the top Irish male names in the Emerald Isle are Conor, Finn, Liam, and Fionn. Several non-Irish choices are also ranked, including Jack, James, Noah, and Daniel.
In the U.S., Liam, Aiden, Dylan, Connor, and Kevin are some of the most popular Irish male names, ranked within the top 100 from 2010. Liam is especially trendy, selected as the number one pick for American boys from 2017 to 2020.
Warriors are revered in Irish culture and are considered the main heroes in many Irish myths and legends. So, it’s no surprise that many Irish names for boys mean “warrior.” These include Conan, Caolan, Cathal, Duncan, Murphy, Kellen, and Sloan.
If none of the names listed above “strike” your fancy, then you may want to consider a similar alternative. Some potential options are Eamon, meaning “guardian of the riches,” Liam, meaning “strong protector,” or Fergus, meaning “strong and masculine one.”
Murphy, O’Brien, O’ Sullivan, Kennedy, O’Reilly, O’Neill, Ryan, and Kelly are among the most prevalent Irish surnames. Many of these family names (or at least parts) are also used as personal names. As long as you don’t name your son Sullivan O’Sullivan or Brien O’Brien, you should be in the clear!