The collapse of communism (and the economy) in Albania in 1991-1992 triggered a mass exodus.
Hundreds of thousands of Albanian refugees fled to other countries — primarily nearby countries like Italy and Greece. But some refugees ended up in entirely different parts of the world, such as the United States.
Evidence of this 1991-1992 wave of Albanian immigration can be see in the sudden appearance of several rather patriotic Albanian baby names to the U.S. baby name data:
|1994||unlisted||5 baby boys||unlisted|
|1993||9 baby girls
(5 in NY)
|11 baby boys
(5 in NY)
|1992||21 baby girls
(12 in NY)
|10 baby boys
(5 in NY)
|5 baby girls [debut]|
|1991||29 baby girls [debut]
(18 in NY)
|13 baby boys [debut]
(8 in NY)
(“Unlisted” means the name was used fewer than 5 times — the minimum for inclusion on the national list.)
The Albanian names Liridon, Liridona and Ilirida are all based on the Albanian word liri, which means “freedom, liberty.” The one-hit wonder name Ilirida refers specifically to the “Republic of Ilirida,” a theoretical secessionist state of Macedonia proposed/declared in early 1992 by Macedonian politician Nevzat Halili (who is an ethnic Albanian).
While I think it’s most likely that these names were bestowed by recent Albanian immigrants, it’s also possible that they were used within Albanian-American families. (New York City has the largest Albanian population in the country.)
And no doubt these names became even more popular in countries that absorbed larger numbers of Albanians. In Switzerland, for instance, both Liridon and Liridona and broke into the national top 100 (!) in 1991:
|Year||Liridona (Switz.)||Liridon (Switz.)||Ilirida (Switz.)|
|1995||16 baby girls||21 baby boys||6 baby girls|
|1994||32 baby girls||19 baby boys||2 baby girls|
|1993||60 baby girls||50 baby boys||4 baby girls|
|1992||114 baby girls
|84 baby boys||19 baby girls [debut]|
|1991||181 baby girls
|125 baby boys
|1990||37 baby girls||63 baby boys||0|
|1989||11 baby girls||29 baby boys||0|
The variants Liridone and Liridonë also show up in the Switzerland data — Liridone over 40 times in the ’80s and ’90s, Liridonë a handful of times in the ’90s.