How to pronounce Irish names: Aoife, Cian, Niamh, Oisín

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Most of the names popular in Ireland today — names like Jack, Sarah, Adam and Emma — are easy to pronounce. But others can be tricky for non-Irish-speakers to decipher.

So, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here are some (rough) pronunciations of various popular Irish names like Aoife, Cian, Niamh and Cillian. Those that have popped up at least once in the U.S. data are linked to their U.S. popularity graphs.

Irish Girl Names

  • Ailbhe is pronounced AL-va.
  • Aine (Áine) is pronounced AWN-ya.
  • Aisling is pronounced ASH-ling or ASH-lin.
  • Aoibhe is pronounced EE-va.
  • Aoibheann is pronounced EE-vin.
  • Aoife is pronounced EE-fa.
  • Cadhla is pronounced KIE-la.
  • Caoilfhionn is pronounced KEE-lin or KWEE-lin.
  • Caoimhe is pronounced KEE-va or KWEE-va.
  • Ciara is pronounced KEE-ra.*
  • Clodagh is pronounced KLOH-da.
  • Croia (Croía) is pronounced KREE-a.
  • Eabha (Éabha) is pronounced EY-va.
  • Eimear is pronounced EE-mer.
  • Eithne is pronounced EHN-ya (just like Enya).
  • Fiadh is pronounced FEE-a.
  • Grainne (Gráinne) is pronounced GRAWN-ya.
  • Laoise is pronounced LEE-sha.
  • Liadan (Líadan) is pronounced LEE-uh-din or LEE-din.
  • Meabh (Méabh) is pronounced mayv.
  • Niamh is pronounced neev or NEE-iv.
  • Roisin (Róisín) is pronounced ROH-sheen.
  • Sadhbh is pronounced siev (rhymes with the number “five”).
  • Saoirse is pronounced SEER-sha or SAYR-sha.
  • Sinead (Sinéad) is pronounced shi-NAYD.
  • Siobhan (Siobhán) is pronounced shi-VAWN (similar to “chiffon”) or shi-WAN.
  • Siofra (Síofra) is pronounced SHEE-fra.

Irish Boy Names

  • Cathal is pronounced KAH-hul.
  • Cian is pronounced KEE-an or keen.*
  • Ciaran (Ciarán) is pronounced KEE-ran.*
  • Cillian is pronounced KIL-ee-an.*
  • Daithi (Dáithí) is pronounced DAH-hee.
  • Domhnall is pronounced DOH-nul.
  • Donnacha is pronounced DUN-uh-ka or DUN-uh-kha (the kh represents a guttural H-sound).
  • Éanna is pronounced EY-na.
  • Eoghan is pronounced OH-in.
  • Eoin is pronounced OH-in.
  • Fionn is pronounced fyun or fyoon.
  • Odhran (Odhrán) is pronounced OH-rawn.
  • Oisin (Oisín) is pronounced UH-sheen or OH-sheen.
  • Padraig (Pádraig) is pronounced PAW-rik or PAW-drig.
  • Páidí is pronounced PAW-dee.
  • Rian (Rían) is pronounced REE-an.
  • Ruairi (Ruairí) is pronounced ROR-ee.
  • Seamus (Séamus) is pronounced SHAY-mus.
  • Sean (Seán) is pronounced shawn.
  • Senan (Senán) is pronounced sheh-NAWN.
  • Tadhg is pronounced tieg (like the first three letters of “tiger”).

*In Irish, C’s are always hard (i.e., they make a K-sound, not an S-sound).

Please keep in mind that these pronunciations may not cover all dialects of Irish.

What other Irish names do you have a hard time pronouncing?


Image: Adapted from Cliffs of Moher 3 by Carogonmu under CC BY-SA 4.0.

[Latest update: Feb. 2024]

439 thoughts on “How to pronounce Irish names: Aoife, Cian, Niamh, Oisín

  1. In high school my best friend was Siobhan, just like chiffon with a soft v. My brother dated an Aine which she pronounced just like the Russian Anya. My daughter Maeve is going to spend her whole life being called Mauve, which drives me crazy. I don’t know if I’m right (I’m American Irish, not Irish-Irish), but I pronounce Maeve with just a hint of a second syllable, kind of like how most americans pronounce fire. Just a bit of y or long-e at the end of the a. More than just “rhymes with cave.”

    And oh how I wanted to use Aoife. Hubby chickened out!

  2. @Andrea – I’d guess Sioda is pronounced “shee-da.” Looks like it means “silk” in Irish and it’s been used as a baby name at least a couple of times in Ireland. (Both times I saw were for baby boys.)

  3. Please – pronunciation for this name. He is a writer and when I see his name, I have no idea how to say it. Thanks.

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

  4. I’d love to see how a Tadhg would get on in the US!!! Lol!

    Tadhg = Tiger without the “er”.

  5. there was one girl at my school and she kept calling me syo-ban and most ppl in my class spell it like SHIVON and i got an xmas card dat said

    lol why cant ppl spell my name these dayz??

  6. siobhan, my cousin is a teacher in scotland and one of her pupils is called siobhan…but when the teachers called her sha-vawn in front of her mum, she said thats not how u pronouce her name its sio-ban……poor child, the mum hd seen the name in a book and assumed it was pronounced that why…..i was so shocked by that, poor wee girl!

  7. Hi, Please please change the pronunciation of Oisin from O-sheen to Usheen it drives me insane when people mispronounce my sons name.

  8. @Patrice – Thanks for the suggestion! I’ve added that version. I believe that, in some parts of Ireland, the O-sheen pronunciation is still valid — though it seems a lot less common.

  9. I’m so glad you posted Cian up there correctly. It’s my sons name and every day someone calls him “Sigh-an”. The C is hard people! And who would name their kid “Sigh-an” anyway? but we also get lots of Cain, Sean, and “see-an”.

  10. The pronunciation, please, of Caitlin. I hear everyone using the pronunciation Kate-lin, but read somewhere that the correct pronunciation is Kath-leen. Of course, the first pronunciation with all its variations is so entrenched in this country that it will last for eternity, but I am curious to know whether I am correct.

  11. Rllen-Caitlin is pronounced Kate-lin
    Hope that helped
    Also if anyone can’t pronounce Bethan (Welsh) it is Beth-urn like Bethany without the ‘y’ but it is not short for anything ;]

  12. @Rllen, @Bethan – Caitlin (originally Caitlín) is “kate-lin” in English, but more like “kaht-leen” in Irish. Some sources say the “t” sounds more like a “th” or a “ch,” so the pronunciation probably differs from region to region.

  13. @Maire– Ditto! I have a Cian, and have all the same problems…. :) The hard ‘C’ is so difficult for people for some reason… :)

    I also have a Declan, and am SHOCKED at how many people have problems with it… seems so clear to me, DECK-lun…. We get a lot of DEE-clan, de-CLAN, and various other mispronunciations….

  14. I love all these names but my family is Welsh so my kids are Cerys and Rhys. We get some pretty crazy pronunciations, particularly for Cerys as everyone wants to get away from the hard “C” and pronounce is as “S”. And Rhys is always called Rice. Mind you, my son’s legal first name is Stephen and everyone who sees that (the doctor’s office etc) mispronouces it as step-hen. Very perplexing as I never thought in a million years that “Stephen” would confuse so many.

    My son goes to school with a Diarmuid (love it) and his siblings include Declan, Ciaran and Eoghan. Never sure if I am pronouncing Eoghan (Owen??) properly. There is also a sister called Orla but I think they spell her name Orfhlaith something like that.

  15. I was taught that Oisín (Uh-sheen) and Óisín (Oh-sheen, Oo-sheen) are the two variations of the name, each with their own spelling.

    Could anyone shed some light on the pronunciations of the variants of Naiose and Noisiu … I’ve been told both Neysha and Neese as pronunciations.

    Additionally, are there regional pronunciation differences between Caoilte (K-aw-lt-, Ku-aw-lt-) and Caílte?

  16. @Jamie- My brother’s name is Declan and he always gets called just Deck.. it drives us nuts…

    My sister’s name is Brigid and her nickname is Bridhe, like Bride-y… every calls her Bridgett or Bride…

  17. @Daniela – I think it depends on the dialect. Many (most?) pronounce it SUR-a-kha, but some pronounce it SUR-a-ha, SUR-kha, and other ways.

  18. Orlite – or-lit. Eoghan – Owen. Niamh – ni-amf. Halri – hay-ley. Mhark – Mark. Sarah/Sahra – sa-rah. Shofie – so-fie. Sara – sa-ra. Orleigh/Órfhlaith/Órlaith – Orla. Keira/Kiera/Ciara/Kiara/Ciere/Ciera – key-ra/cee-ara/cee-ere/cee-era. Brohke – Brooke. Mhary/Máire – Mary. Mhairi/Mairi – ma-ri. Charlotte – shar-lot. Ellise – el-ise. Kian/Cian – Keen. Sean/Shaun – sh-on. Séamus – see-mus. Eibhilín/Eilleen – ay-leen. Aodhán/Aoden/Aiden/Aidan – ay-dan. Katelyn/Caitlin/Kaitlyn/Kaitlin/Caitlyn – kate-lin. Lynne/Lynn/Lin – lin. Ehrin/Erin – er-in. Shannon/Siannon – sha-non. Bairre/Barra/Barry – bar-i. Breandán/Brendan/Brenden – bren-dan. Conchobhar/Conor/Connor – con-or. Diarmuid/Diarmaid – der-mot. Aoibhinn/Aoibheann – ee-van. Osgar – os-car.

    Hope this helps :) x

  19. Orfhlaith, quite a few pronounciations there I don’t agree with.

    Niamh = Neeve

    Sean = Shawn (long aww sound)

    Seamus = Shay-mus

  20. Meryl, people in my family are called those names and that is how they are pronounced. I’m sorry if they aren’t the same as yours but that is my opinion.

  21. Yeah @Bethan’s right, I hate it when teachers call me Beth-Ann IT’S SO ANNOYING!!! :P Then some Americans call me Bee-than or Bee-tan
    Why can’t they jut pronounce it the right way (Beth-n)

  22. Eithne and Maire being pronounced Enya and Moya…is this just another regional variation, or are those pronunciations relatively uncommon?

    Can anyone help me with Ciardha, Siuan, Ailbhe, Cathasaigh/Cathasach, and Faolan?

    Ireland…the only place I’ve ever been where when someone says their name’s “Mary”, you ask “How do you spell that?” before you write it down. To a fair amount of embarassment when it *does* happen to be just spelled Mary and people look at you like you’re not the sharpest crayon in the box…

  23. @Stephanie – I’ve never come across that particular name, and I don’t know what it means, but based on pronunciations I’ve seen for uaithne and various -ionn names, I’d guess…OO-eh-nyon? OO-eh-nyin? Something along those lines, anyway.

  24. I just read a book where a characters name was Colm. At first I thought it was kohlmm, like comb with an L in it. But I kept pronouncing it in my head as Coim (koym). Thoughts?

  25. My middle name is Mairead and I pronounce it Ma-rade (like parade with an M) but I have also heard it pronounce May-read and Ma-rid and I know there is one other way it is pronounced but I like my way it sounds softer. This is all in Ireland too not just in the US.
    I love my middle name and wish it was my first name!

  26. I have a friend named Molly Mairead, pronounced Ma-rade. Her sister is Lily Aisling, they both have beautiful names.

  27. @ tara –
    Ciardha – Keira ,
    Siuan = Shoon
    Ailbhe = Al va
    Cathasaigh/Cathasach,- can pronounce but can’t put down in English! sorry!
    Faolan – fay lawn

  28. @Órfhlaith Sorry but Meryl is right. There is no WAY that Seamus should be pronounced ‘Seemis’! Ever!

    Seamus is Irish for James, it’s pronounced Shay-mus, kind of like the Scottish Hamish (Hay-mish).

    Source? My boyfriend is from Co. Cork, and I’m from Edinburgh. Get quite a lot of Seamus’s over here in the Celtic lands ;)

    Also with Niamh and Sean, they are definitely Neeve and Shawn. Sorry, this is not my opinon, this is FACT.

  29. here is another few;

    Siona: Shaw-na or the english version would be Shauna
    Rionagh: Rain-na
    Aine: on-ya
    Daire: Da-ra or Dar-ra
    Niamh: Neeve
    Naomi: Ny-oh-me
    Caitríona: Ka-Tree-Na
    Claire- Clare
    Siobhan- Sha- Vawn( my sisters best friends pronounces it like that!)

  30. @Stephanie i can pronouce it but cant put it down its (oon-in) like goon-in without the ‘g’ get me
    @donna same as stephanie its (sadh-ive) em… like (s-eye-ve)
    also these are names that my american friends cant pronounce
    diarmuid (dear-mid) diarmaid (dear-mad) deirmoth (der-mot)
    Anraoi ( on-re)
    mairead ( mar-aid)
    carthaigh (cor-hig)
    siona ( show-na)
    choilthal ( cot-hal)
    sioann ( s-eye-an)
    clodagh (clo-da)
    murtagh( mer-ta)
    Sean can also be pronounced differently either, its pronounced (shawn) if the fada is over the e and (sane) if its over the a but (shawn) is way more common

  31. Hi my name is Sarah and I got really annoyed when I was younger ’cause my class was discussing Irish stuff with my teacher and she said ” Put up your hand if you think you have an Irish name ” and I put up my hand and she said I didn’t and gave out to me and I said that it COULD be transalated but she still gave out to me and we carried on arguing !

  32. Colm can be pronounced either call-um (as in a phone call not cal) or cull-um depending on what part of ireland your in and Sadhbh is pronounced sive Sarah is not an irish but yes it does have an irish equivalent to it Sorcha pronounced Sore-sha or Sor-a-ka other nice irish names are
    Seóna – Sho-nah
    Róisín – Ro-sheen (or Roisín – raw-sheen again depending where you are in ireland)
    Fearghal – fer-gul
    Teirnan – tear-nan
    Shauneen – shaw-neen
    Laoise – lee-sha
    Dónal – doe-nal
    Darragh – dar-rah

  33. As a writer, I have need of many names. In my current project, I have need of several Irish names. I love the way these look, and the meanings of those I could find, but I’m not entirely sure of pronunciation.

    Given names:


    I first encountered Ciannait as a masculine name, but most places I’ve looked list it as feminine, though some say unisex. Any idea which is more common? I like the name and want to keep it, but if it’s far more common for women than men, I should change it.

    I believe I encountered AnDearg as an Irish surname, but can’t find a reference to it anywhere in my usual sources. Does anyone know how it’s pronounced or what it means? If it’s not Irish, does anyone know its origin? Or is there a similar Irish name that this could be a variant (or even misspelling) of?

    Thanks a lot.

  34. My daughter is called Aoife and the amount of people that mispronounce it or look at me in a funny way when i sound it out for them!! the best pronunciation was A – O – ife. One doctor just ignored her first name and called her Elizabeth (her middle name). Also my son is called Roan ( Ro – an) and the amount of people that told me I had spelt it wrong because there was no ‘w’ .

  35. I’m curious about how to pronounce BRIGHDE? is this the same name as Bridie or Bridey (pronounced Bride-ee)? I know it’s a form of Bridget but I rather like the sound of Bridie but prefer the spelling of Brighde if it is indeed pronounced the same. Thank you!

  36. It is. My sister is Brigid and we call her Brighde sometimes. We spell it Brighde because people use to mix up Bridie with Birdie.

  37. Thank you Grace! That is very helpful. I was thinking the same thing about spelling it Bridie, I know people would see Birdie instead. Are you from Ireland? I know the name would be rare here in the U.S….I’ve never heard of Brighde. We have Bridget but no Brighde’s. My two boys have rare and unusual names (in the U.S. Anyway) so it would work for a name if we have a girl.

  38. I’m from the US! New England actually, she is the only one I’ve ever heard of hear and people mostly get the name right.

  39. Good morning, I just stumbled across this blog! I’m Irish and living in ireland and i can say that while there are a lot of correct pronunciations listed here there are a lot of incorrect ones aswell. Some names might be commonly mispronounced where you guys are so it’s become the norm to you, but if you want the actual correct Irish pronunciation you might not like being told you’re pronouncing your own name incorrectly! There also seems to be some confusion between Irish/Welsh and Scottish names and the pronunciation of those where there are similarties.

    My daughter is called Aoife and I can guarantee that the correct pronunciation everywhere here is Ee-fah, but there’s no need to linger on the first syllable, it’s short.

    Just some quick comments –

    Niamh – Neeve, no need for trying to pronounce an f in there!

    Brook is most certainly not an Irish name and I’ve never once come across a Brohke!

    Eoin/Eoghan – Both pronounced as you would Owen, they have different meanings though depending on how it is spelt

    Nancy, the correct irish spelling of Rory is Ruairi, would your friend be interested in that?

    Sarah, while a popular name in Ireland is not an Irish name in the context your teacher meant.

    I’ve to get back to work but if you want any help from a native speaker, I’ll do my best to reply!

  40. Deirdre,
    Hello! I just read your post and thought I would get your input on my post. Mine is just a few ahead of yours. Could you review it and please respond to it. It’s regarding the name BRIGHDE. This name is on our short list if we have a girl. I like this spelling but was wondering if it is pronounced like Bridie (bride-EE)? I wasn’t sure if it’s a different name entirely. I know it’s a form of Bridget but that name is quite common in the US and I’m looking for a unique name. Thanks in advance for your time. (I’ve been told by people on different sites that it is pronounced Bree-j and also Bridie–which is correct?)

  41. Hi Kirsten,

    It seems that Brighde is a Scottish Gaelic name, rather than an Irish one, which is why I, and some of my colleagues, have never come across it spelt that way and have been scratching our heads as to how to answer you!

    There is a pronunciation offered on that wiki page above but we have no access to audio in here so I’m not sure if there is an option to listen to it. However, from what is written I think it might be pronounced Bree-je but I’m not Scottish so can’t offer any definitive answer here!

  42. Can anyone help with the correct pronunciation of Faiion please? Is it FY-un, rhyming with lion? Can’t find this anywhere but I love the way it looks!

  43. Amie – Cecelia is pronounced Seh-see-lee-ah, all soft c’s

    Tamsin – Faiion isn’t a name I’ve ever come across, nor has my collague here beside me. Just googled it and I can see it’s listed as a name of Irish origin and I’m baffled! I think that the way you’re sounding it out is more like the name Fionn which is a popular Irish boy’s name, and is pronounced F-yunn but sort of as one syllable, as if you say it very fast, no long emphasis on the first part. Hope that’s of some help!

  44. Thanks for your input Deirdre, it is helpful in my search to gather the most information I can. If anyone has more information on the Brighde, I would appreciate it!

  45. Hi Jess, Méabh is pronouced Maeve (Mae-ve), it can also be spelt Meadhbh (early Modern Irish spelling), “bh” in Irish is pronounced like a v.

  46. Órfhlaith – Most of the names on your list are NOT irish names, i know you’ve said already that your family use those names but i think maybe they just customised them and gave them irish spellings
    Niamh is “Neeve” like leave.. Sadhbh is my cousin’s name and the pronunciation is “S-eye-av” like drive pretty much, but with a small “ah” sound before the “ve” ..
    Asher – Given names:
    Abban – Aw-bon
    Ashling – ash-ling
    Ciannait – never heard this one to be honest, but i reckon it’s either “key-an-itch”, “keen-itch” or “can-nit”
    Daire – Doy-rah or Darrah
    Davis – day -viss
    Kane – same as the english, sounds like “lane”
    Maire – Moy -rah
    Nevill – exactly how it is in english , however the irish name has a “bh” instead of a “v” as far as i know.
    Shea – shay

    AnDearg – on-jar-ig
    Cassidy – exactly how it is in english “cass-i-dee”
    Moffitt – moff -it

    And the name “Casidhe”, which is a lovely spelling, would be nice to use too, as a first or second name!.. it means “clever”, and is pronounced “Cass-ee” like Cassie.

    And for the people spelling and/or pronouncing Aoífe incorrectly : it is my name, and it’s pronounced “Ee-fah” not “ee-feh” thats just how common people say it- trust me, i know this as i live in dublin.
    the accent on the “i” (í) is given because “i” with an accent in irish gives an “ee” sound. Its optional whether you put it in or not, i prefer it. Aoífe is also a hebrew name, so i believe when the accent isn’t in the name that it’s classed hebrew, not irish
    Hope I helped!

  47. can i just clear up padraig is not PAD-RAG its PAW-rag (like an animals paw) and if the name is padraic then its PAW-rak

  48. I’ve had some trouble with the name Liadan, which I LOVE, but can never settle on the correct pronunciation. It seems there are at least two variants–Liadán and Líadan with different placement for the fada? I’ve met people who pronounce it Lee-dawn, Lee-din, Lee-uh-dahn, Lee-uh-dawn, Lee-uh-din, Lee-uh-dan, Lee-ahn, oh lord, no consensus.

    The few people I know with this name pronounce it differently, and are all native to Ireland. Lee-a-din for one, in whose family this name is common. Another woman, who studies Gaelic, named her daughter this and convinced it’s Lee-an (an ancient name/pronunciation). Another woman pronounces it Lee-uh-dawn.

    Any help?

  49. Wow! These names are really hard to pronounce but they really are nice to the ears when pronounced correctly. The problem is your child would have to be ready to correct others in pronouncing their names.

  50. My daughters name is Niamh – neev, she gets called ni-am and ne-am all the time, people out here in the US often revert to calling her by her surname Shaw when they don’t want to try and pronounce it.

  51. I have a friend named Courtney who is full Irish and has cousins visiting us here in the States soon. To save myself the embarassment of asking the pronunciation of each family member, I reviewed this page over and over! However, a few names weren’t listed that would be helpful :)

    Her aunt’s name is Bronagh. Her oldest cousin is Cobhlaith. And the baby is Keelie Niamh (which I learned the pronunciation of, but is Keelie still the same? It doesn’t look like any special Irish spelling, but then again neither does her cousin Stephen!).

  52. @ Kirsten …. I’m Scottish, half Irish and Brighde is definitely ‘bree-j’ like the cheese brie but with a soft ‘j’ on the end.

  53. Deirdre
    what can you tell me on the name Ciejae…. I am not certain on the spelling but I heard it is pronounced like the letters c(soft) and j in english.

    also can you speak to how the c in Irish is pronounced (previously stated to always being hard) as I see in Cecilia it is soft or is this not an Irish name?

  54. Ada – The pronunciation of Liadan would indeed depend on the location of the fada. A fada indicates a longer emphasis on that vowel, so Líadan (which means grey lady) would be Lee – din, whereas Líadán would be Lee-dawn. I think….. it’s not an name I’ve ever come across so hopefully someone who is familiar with it can help more. I googled it and my guess is based on that, with the Líadan = Lee-din being what I read.

    Cady – Bronagh is pronounced Brone-ah with Bron being pronouced to rhyme with “crone” if that makes sense, followed by “ah”
    Cobhlaith is another name that is new to me!! “bh” in Irish is pronounced like a “v” and “laith” is “la” so I’d expect it to be pronounced along the lines of “Kove-la” but I am open to correction here!
    Keelie is not an Irish name and no special pronunciation required!

    Lin – there are no “j”s in the Irish alphabet (or k, v, w, z) so I’m not sure what origin Ciejae is. I imagine it’s just “CJ” though.

    Cecelia is an Italian name so the pronunciation didn’t bear any reference to Gaeilge! Just as the question was about an Irish author I just figured I’d respond in case it was in reference to a regional pronunciation.

    Hope I was of some help and apologies to anyone who I have possibly offended if I’ve totally got your name wrong!

  55. My cousin’s name is Ceilidh, which is pronounced similarly to the English Kayleigh (Kay-lee), but it’s more “Kayl-ee.”

  56. I know my name is pretty common but I’ve had a few mishaps ……… Pa-tri-Kia, Patrick, (when shortened to Trish) trash, Tony (where that came from I dont know lol)

  57. Thought’s on Eibhlin? I’ve seen a lot of people Anglicize it to Eileen but I am interested Gealic pronunciation. Which, as I understand it, is “Av-lin” or “Av-leen” if there was an accent over the (i).

  58. I believe, technically, the “bh” ought to make a v-sound. Eibhlin was originally a form of Aveline, and I’m pretty sure the “bh” is in there to reflect the v-sound in the first syllable of Aveline.

    For instance, here’s the former Lord Mayor of Dublin, Eibhlin Byrne, being introduced as “eve-lin” [0:06]:

    And here’s little girl being introduced by a TV host as “ehv-lin” [0:06]:

    On the other hand…

    Here’s an Irish Gaelic speaker pronouncing it like Eileen [0:30]:

    The fact that an Irish-speaker pronounces Eibhlin like Eileen confuses me. As far as I can tell, the “bh” isn’t ever silent. (If someone knows better, please correct me.)

  59. @Siânnon–thank you very much for your input. It helps a lot! I think I’ve ruled that name out. I do really want to pronounce the name correctly and in the US, I think the spelling is too far off from the sound.

    For a boy’s name I am interested in Callum. I’ve seen a lot of different posts on other sites of how to pronounce it…and honestly, don’t trust them at all. It seems it’s opinion on what they think it should sound like but not necessarily correct to where the name is from.

    So how do you pronounce CALLUM? is this Irish or Scottish?

  60. I am currently reading my illustrated encyclopedia of mythology and I am, at the moment, reading up on Celtic mythology. I have just finished reading about the goddess Aoife and her child with Cuchulainn, Conlain. Does anyone know how to pronounce Conlain? I have used it to create a character in one of my computer games, but I want to know how to correctly pronounce it. Any help would be much appreciated.

  61. @ Deirdre: You’re right about Connla. I read up about him further into my book and it did mention that that is an alternative name for him. Thanks for your kind help! I’m very much interested in the history of Ireland and its myths. I’ve always longed to travel to Ireland. Supposedly, I have a few drops of Irish blood in my body, but I’m mostly English and German with a bit of Italian thrown in there along with some Cherokee. Ireland is a beautiful country and it is my dream to visit it one day!

  62. Hi there,
    Although Caitlin is now widely (universally) misprounced as KATE-lyn is should be pronounced KAWTCH-lin.


  63. Hello all :)
    I am currently in an introductory Irish class and I am still muddling my way through pronunciation (I’m kind of a keener, I really, really, want to learn Irish so I keep skipping ahead, but I know I’m saying things wrong)
    My question is about the name Findabhair. I’ve read it in a couple books and I’ve been absolutely in love with it ever since.
    I know how to say it (finn-AH-veer) but I was wondering why..
    I know the bh makes a v or w sound, but its the beginning of the name that confuses me.
    Where does the d go?
    Or is this an incorrect spelling?
    Anything help will be extremely appreciated.
    Thank you

  64. Caoimhin is right, my name is caitlín and it really annoys me when people see my name and read it as it is – ignoring the fada above the ‘i’ and call me KATE-LIN. Its CAWTCH-LIN! It annoys me that some people e.g. teachers think im being cheecky by correcting them- but its only fair! Pronounciation is also a big issue so all of my friends and family call me cash-lin instead, which I like more.
    Is there any other spellings of Caitlín?

  65. My eldest son is named Seosamh. I pronounce him Sho-sieve, my hubby says Sho-shiv? Are either of us correct??! Also, we are expecting a boy who we wanted to call Ailbhe. I hoped the pronunciation was Alvay, but understand it is Alva. Is this a dialect discrepancy? Is there any name pronounced as Alvay? Help appreciated :D

  66. hi i love some of these names. we are expecting our 1st (n prob only) child next year and I love the name Aoife. My surname is Adair which is scottish spelt and my hubby’s is mcAuley which is the irish spelling. We would be double barrelling (like me) to Aoife Adair-McAuley for our child if its a girl! But my hubby is put off cos of the spelling for the child and mispronunciation. Any words of advice? Incidentally we like jared and noah for a boy…but I love irish names if there are any other suggestions.
    Thanks….oh and PS I am one of the only people who pronounce Aithne and Niamh correctly in my school where I work!!! tut tut!

  67. @Daisydoug The name Seosamh i spronounced Sho-su or Sho-sav depending on which area in Ireland you are sho-sieve is closest.

    Something else I have noticed are that Niamh can also (along with Neeve) be pronounced as Nee-av.

  68. @Daisydoug
    Also forgot to mention that Ailbhe is pronounced Al-va without much variation. Just to let you know as well that though it is a unisex name, in Ireland it is mostly used as a girl’s name.
    Maybe you would like Adhamh (Ad-av) or Antaine (Antan-ye)
    Ainle (An-le) or Anraoi (An-ree). All the A sounds are pronounced like the A in ‘Albert’.
    Good luck with the new baby, I’m sure you will find the perfect name!

  69. So just to throw my bit in! Lot’s of people say Aoife is EE-FA but it’s not a harsh an EE sound. It sounds terrible when there’s a hard EE followed by a hard FA. That’s why there’s a whole Aoi bit at the start. Also the E at the end is not a harsh A. It’s a softer sound. Otherwise there would be an A at the end like in “bia” (pronounced as in mamma mia)!. It is not Hebrew without the fada. If that were the case then we wouldn’t have similarly pronounced words such as “aois”, “aoibh” and “Aoine”. None of these are simply a harsh EE at the start, none have a fada and none are Hebrew. There is a slight lilt and softness to the pronunciation of aoi starting words. I do not know who to write this phonetically in English. Sorry! Listen to this example of Aoine (Friday) and that’s what you go for at the start of Aoife and how you deal with the end E! It’s all quite soft.

    If you say EE-FA in a harsh way you lose the whole Irishness of the name and its place in the Irish language. Hope the link helps a little!

  70. @Carole
    Hope this helps
    Conaire – Conor
    Cahir – Ka- her
    Calin- you might mean Cailin which literally means girl but is a name pronounced Ka-leen, similar to Coleen – If you are looking at it in the sense of a boys name it’s probably the same as Colin just spelt to look Irish.
    Seamus – Shay-mus
    Cahir is pronounced as it’s written and the others are not traditional Irish names. A rule of thumb is that if a name contains J, K, Q, V, X, Y, Z it’s not a real Irish name as these do not appear in the Irish alphabet they are just Irish/ Celtic influenced spellings of other names.

  71. Hi there people. Was just wondering if anyone could shed some light on my last name “Keogh”. I know it’s Irish since my father’s Irish and I saw it around when I went to Dublin. I’ve always pronounced it as “Key-oh” but I’ve been told it’s wrong. I’ve also heard it can be spelt as Keough if this helps. Also, is Paige an Irish name?

  72. Hi everyone! I was looking for some outside opions on a couple of name choices, as well as suggestions, and stumbled across this blog filled with some wonderful insights! My husband and I are expecting our third baby this coming May (we don’t know the gender yet) and we’re having a disaagreement on names! We already have two boys named Seamus and Declan, and are looking for a name that will go well with both. For a girl, I love Orla and Aoife, and my husband loves Brigid. But we have no boys names at all! Do youhave any opion of which girl name would be best used in Canada, as well as any suggestions for another boys name? Thanks so much for your help everyone!!!
    Jodi Ann

  73. I love the name Eiley or Ailey. but am not sure if i pronounce it right. eye-lee for both spellings or if Ailey should be said a- lee. help out on this one? is this a uncommon use of eileen/aileen in ireland? thanks so much for your comments.

  74. Hi Holly! I know Ailey is pronounced A (as in the letter, or gAme) Lee, so A-Lee. But as for Eiley, I’ve never heard of this name before. But it is such a lovely looking name, I would be interested to see if it is pronouced Eye-Lee or A-Lee. Good luck in finding your answer!

  75. Is Kerry nor an Irish name? I have a nephew called Fergus which I initially disliked bit have now grown to love

  76. @Aoife (who put Aisling as pronounced as ais-ling)

    My sister was called Aisling & it is certainly not pronounced Ais-ling! its pronounced alot of different ways, but most commonly Ash-lynn or Ash-leen, or I used to say asha-leen but i thin that was wrong, i was only little :P
    Roisin is Roe-sheen or Ro (as in O not oh)- sheen from my experience, i’ve never been called raw-sheen, whoever said that!

    I know a Ceallach, everyone pronounces it Kay-lock, but softer than lock, like loch, i guess, is that right?

  77. i am irish, my best friends are called aoife (eefeh) and niamh (neev) , my little brothers are tadhg (tyg) and ruairi (roary) yet im given “gemma” as a name! is there an irish translation of gemma? my surname is NiHarcaigh, translated into english that is Harrison for those of you who are interested :L

  78. Bagged myself in Irishman! I’m allowed to use these beautiful names in the future now!!! :-D xxxxx

  79. Hi, all:

    My middle name is Maire, and my parents and relatives have argued for 31 years over its pronunciation. Anyone care to settle it? I’ve heard Mah-RAY, Mair-EE, and MAIR as contenders. If it helps, my maiden name is O’Rear, and according to verbal family history, our ancestors are from Cork. I really wanted to name our daughter Saoirse, but my Italian husband refused. We ended up with Brynn, which I think is Welsh.

    Thanks so much!

  80. @Abbie – The specific pronunciation depends on where you are in Ireland, but I’m pretty sure the name is consistently a two-syllable name with the stress on the first syllable.

    Pronunciations I’m seeing for Máire include MOY-ra, MAW-ra and MOY-a. (Performer Moya Brennan was born Máire Ní Bhraonáin.)

  81. Hi there, I have been searching on the internet but can’t find how to pronounce ‘Rionadh’? My friends have named their baby this and I don’t want to look like a donkey when I say the name! Thanks !!

  82. Always remember in southern Ireland they generally speak in an older dialect. My name in most regions is lor-kan however we pronounce it low-r-cown.

    @ Gin u need to ask to b sure. Gaelic is a very unusual mixture of latin and Anglian letters used to try and bring ink to a language that had not nearly enough of the same sounds to make any sense. For most learning to speak Irish gaelic is quite easy but learning the rules of the Anglo-gaelic writing seems to be among the hardest on earth.

  83. Hi – I stumbled on this site and being Irish I want to give my first child an Irish name but my husband is Tunisian and wants a Tunisian name. I am keeping Murphy in the hyphenated surname. I am sure you can imagine the confused with my name but I am determined to use an Irish name. So this site has been v useful. Thanks from no not eemur, emir, ember (yes) and eiameare, eemere – yes I have had them all!!

  84. I come from an irish family who live in england, but was given a Gaelic name, and the way people pronounce it is horrible. They say it as its spelt, its not even a educated guess 90% of the time either.
    Eoghan is pronounced Owen, and means ‘eugene’ in the english language.

  85. We aren’t Irish but loved the name cian and the way it’s spelt. However, he’s only 4 and is constantly having to shout out ‘it’s Kee-an!!’ he gets called ‘sy-an’, ‘shaan’ and often ‘cain’!

  86. To the other Eimear- whereabouts in Ireland are you from? I’m from the southeast and I’ve never met anyone who pronounces Eimear that way before, always ee-mer like me. There’s another common spelling which is Emer but pronounced the same way, but I’ve never heard it pronounced ember, and I’ve known about 10 other Eimears/Emers

  87. Hello!
    I am not Irish but I’ve always loved the names Aiofe and Aileen/Eileen !
    How do you pronounce Aileen correctly? And Aiofe is Eef-eh?
    I am English- Dutch myself, but English people always call me Dominic or Domineek, when you actually pronounce it in a French way!
    this blog is really helpful!

  88. Hi Dominique,

    Aoife is pronounced Ee-fah
    Aileen is Ay-leen (the “Ay” rhyming with hay if that helps)
    Eileen is I-leen

    To an earlier poster – Aisling is Ash-ling

    I’ve never heard Eimear pronounced any way other than Ee-mer!!

    Gin – I would pronounce Rionadh as Reen-ah but am open to corrections on that one!

  89. What is the correct pronunciation of Faolan? I’ve seen it as Fay Lan or Fay Lawn but on baby names of Ireland it is pronounced as Fway Lawn. I actually like fway lawn better but I want to get it correct.


  90. Gin – Rionadh is pronounced Ree-on-ah (on as in opposite of off – sorry just trying to give you easiest way to say it!)

    Tracy – Faolan is definitely pronounced Fway lawn

  91. Yay! I saw someone ask for the pronunciation of Caitlin on here! That’s my name! I’m American, but have Irish and English blood in my veins but mostly Italian and German/Swiss. My grandmother, the one that gave me my Irish heritage even though it’s just a drop in my body and not like a whole infusion of Irish beauty, is the one that named me upon my birth. My parents couldn’t decide on a name and my grandma was like, “Why don’t you name her Caitlin? It’s a pretty name.” My parents liked it so much that they decided to take her up on that name offer and now I’ve been a Caitlin for twenty-three years!

  92. How do you pronounce the name Mileac?
    Also, I thought Padraig was pronounced PAWDRIG, not rag, and Padraic pronounced PAW DRIC. I thought the last syllable was a short i, not a short a? Am I wrong?

  93. I’m wondering how to pronounce O’Muirgheasa, which apparently my maiden name comes from.

  94. My husband and I loved the name Mairead for our daughter, but decided to use it as her middle name instead because of the mis pronunciation that we were already getting from people when I was pregnant. But like I tell anyone who sees it it’s pronounced like “Parade” but with an M.

  95. Could I suggest giving your children names that the rest of the world knows how to pronounce? I feel this would save them much frustration in their lives. Silent letters are not big or clever.

  96. Jane Alexandra, I think your comment is quite offensive and is definitely not in the vein of the conversation and the people who use this forum. Irish is an ancient language and many if not most of these names have been in use throughout thousands of years, the silent letters you are referring to do not in fact exist in the Irish language as in some others, french for example which is widely spoken. The letters simply have different sounds and put together in certain ways allow us to make full use of the traditional 18 letter irish alphabet. When you are born in Ireland or to an Irish family these names are known and common in fact and most people can spell them. Furthermore having lived in the England for many years now I can say that people do not forget or remember my name any more than anyone else with a ‘normal’ name. Your name and mine are not that different in age of use, yours is simply more widely known and used.

  97. No fights, please.

    Jane Alexandra makes a good point about pronunciation. Please interpret it as a suggestion, not an insult/attack.

  98. I hate it when people pronounce my name wrong its pronounced sh_are_n the are as in like you are we are etc. There is a Dr at my place of work who’s name is.spelt the same and his is pronounced sigh_Ann.

  99. I was wondering if my name is Irish?i pronounce it ker- en, alot of people say karen but thats not the way my parents meant for it….mAlso, I was wondering how you would say Kinnia? We came across this name as we were looking at Irish saints names. I live in the U.S. and even though my fathers part Irish we really have no idea..
    Thank you…

  100. What, no one wants to know how to pronounce Colleen? (Ha!) I always taught Caitlin was pronounced like kotch-leen. At least that is how they called my Auntie Katie and my family is from Connemara where Gaelic was their first language. I have spoken to my mother about these names that are becoming so popular here in the US and she said she didn’t know anyone growing up with names like Orla or Cian. The problem with the Irish language is that there are many dialects, they have added letters, and that even the Irish themselves will pronounce one word a bunch of ways. I chalk it up to the Irish attitude of “whatever”. “You said my name how?” “Whatever, it doesn’t matter”.

    The one that does make me bristle though is pronouncing Padraig as PAA-DRIG. What?! It’s closer to pour-rick. And yet, there is the Irish golfer Padraig Harrington who goes by the paa-drig pronounciation.

  101. My daughters name is Ffion, which is welsh and some people look at it and can’t even begin to decipher it’s pronunciation. It’s really annoying when she gets Fiona or fion and when they don’t use the capital F as it’s part of her name.

  102. My Husband is Irish and our 4 Daughters are called Laoise (LEE-SHA), Caoilainn (KAY-LEEN), Moira (MOY-RAH) and Aoife (EE-FAH). We get really wound up by the names some of the Teachers call them. We have had Lacie, Kelain, Mora, Ayfee. Is it that difficult to work out someones name or they could at least google how to pronounce them Because we are sick of people saying this it’ll confuse Aoife she’s only 4 they will confuse her.
    Teach Teachers how to pronounce names!!

  103. @Kaira-Mae – Seems like the wrong attitude to have, doesn’t it?

    Either take pride in teaching others how to say the names, or change the names so you don’t have to be so “wound up” anymore. But don’t blame others for a decision that was yours to make.

  104. I don’t think it’s a name, but how would you pronounce ‘Siochain’ (Irish for peace) ? I am partly Irish but there’s no Irish family left to ask and I’m struggling! Thank you in advance :)

  105. Síocháin (with an accent on the first “i” and on the “a” is indeed the Irish word for peace. It’s pronounced “shee-ch-oy-in”. the ch is like the ch in the Scottish loch, oy as on boy. BTW the official title of the Irish police force is “Garda Síocháin” = Guardians of the Peace.

  106. Colleen, did you know that the spelling of your name is an Anglicize spelling of the Irish “Cailín” pronounced the same way, and meaning “girl”?

  107. first and foremost I would like to thank everyone that is helping out with us illiterates =) my question is a bit backwards.

    my boyfriend’s daughter’s name is spelt Kealey (key-lee) it is said to be Irish but since I see there is no k or y in theirish alphabetmy question is how would you spell that in Gaelic? thank you to anyone that can help me with this

  108. Kealey is more usually an Irish surname or family name, although the use of Irish surnames as given names has become common in the US (Kelly, Shannon, Ryan, Murray, Donovan…) There are a number of variants of the spelling of the Kealey name including Keeley, Kealey, Keeley, Keely, Keiley, all pronounced more or less the same. They’re Anglicized spellings and pronunciation of the Irish name Ó Caollaidhe or Ó Caollaí (pronounced Oh quail-ee).

  109. Fionnán is pronounced more or less Fyun-awn (The English word “fun” with a “y” sound stuck in immediately after the “F” sound and “awn” as in the English word “yawn”)

  110. Roisin has two pronunciations…one from the southern regions (Row-sheen) and one from up north (Raw-sheen.) Most of the people who emigrated to the United States were from the southern counties…thus almost all of the Roisins in the U.S. are pronounced “Row-sheen.” The north held most of the industrial factories thus people tended not to emigrate as much, or would go to England for work. If you go to Derry, you will hear it pronounced “Raw-sheen.”

  111. Roisín, normally your name is written with an accent (fada) on the second “i”. This is what gives that “i” the “ee” sound. The difference between the pronunciation of the name in the northern counties of Ireland has more to do with the Derry and Belfast accents than a deliberate difference in pronunciation.

  112. Thank you, Deirdre! There seems to be a significant amount of local variety in pronunciation! I was wondering, is a Dublin accent considered the ‘official’ accent of Ireland, in the way that London is ‘RP’ for England?

  113. planning a future to see my family routes around donegal i came across all the different spellings/variations of my surname haggerty-(hegarty, haggarty etc). i love the one which dates back furthest and most irishest of O’hEighceartaigh. all of the versions,though, are from the same origin. it made me think about all these arguments of pronunciations. my planned daughters name is to be Aoife and my pronunciation is a cross between ee-fur and ee-fa, hardly saying the last syllable. but really, its a regional thing in ireland as it is in england – a brummie would say Tracy as try-soy and the yorkshire version would be treer-seh. carry on fighting amongst yourselves though, its funny!

  114. Emma, I hope you enjoy your planned trip!

    It’s not really a “fight amongst ourselves” as other posters are asking for the correct pronunciation of a given name. Of course everyone is free to pronounce a name as they see fit, but when it comes down to it there is usually just one “correct” pronunciation. Just because the Birmingham accent dictates that Tracy might sound like “Try-soy” doesn’t mean you’ll find that pronuciation listed anywhwere as correct. Likewise, Aoife is most defintely Ee-fah and there is no r in it anywhere!

  115. Hello

    My daughter’s name is Gathel. We are an adoptive family and I know her birth grandmother (deceased) was also Gathel. Does anyone know either the origin or pronunciation of this name?

    The only bits I have found on the internet are either as a last name, a man’s name, or that it is possible Gaelic. Possibly the old form of Gael?

    Any help is greatly appreciated.

  116. Can I just say, as a Ciara, that I am keer-ah, and not kee-ar-ah, it’s causing me lots of problems now that I’m living abroad!! I’m Irish, I know lots of Ciaras, it’s a really common name, and I’ve never heard any of them pronounced kee-ar-ah! Also, Padraig is pronounced pawd-rig in the Northern parts of Ireland, so that pronunciation is equally correct.

  117. And also, by no means is a Dublin accent the official accent of Ireland!! Even within Dublin you’ll find some completely different accents anyway. We’re all equally special! (Although the Donegal accent has recently been voted Ireland’s sexiest!! Guess where I’m from, lol ;)

  118. Is Aoibhlin pronounced eve-lin, Aibhlin like av-lin, and Eibhlin like ehv-lin? Are there other spelling/pronunciations of this name and what does it mean?

  119. does anyone know how to pronounce the name Líle?
    Some say it’s pronounced as ‘Lee-luh’, but I’ve also heard ‘Lee-lah’ like some say Aoife as ‘Ee-fah’ or ‘Ee-fuh’.
    and last week a woman said: ‘Lilah’ like the name Lily.
    Does anyone know which pronunciation is right?

  120. I would pronounce Líle as Lee-leh although the different Irish accents might make this a little different to those not familiar with the accent. The second syllable should not be emphasized.

  121. Outside Philadelphia is the community “Bala Cynwyd”.

    “bal-uh kin-wood”

    Lots of Welsh influence around Philly. Used to live in a community west of Philly called Gwynedd.

  122. My names Siobhán and i’m Irish and live in Ireland, but i’ve been abroad and i get people pronouncing it differently a lot but if they say Sha-vawn or Shi-vawn doesn’t matter.
    In Ireland a lot of people prounce it using a more irish sound. (seo-vawn)

  123. Actually my Irish first name was anglicized many years ago. It was originally spelled Rúadhán. I wonder how many Irish lads today still use the old spelling? I’ve a mind to change it back! Then I would be known as Rúadhán O’h-Iarnain as it should be.

  124. The family of mine that live in Laois, Ireland call me “Nee-uv” The Dubs call me something which sounds like “Naeeyyyuvv” those in Mayo (closer to the northern border of Ireland) family call me “Neeev” so I presume there is just a differentiation in accent, everyone else (mainly over here in England) calls me “Neev” unless of course they see it written first, then they call me “Neem”
    I really want to call any future children I may have Irish names, particularly love the name Caoimhe (which I would pronounce Kee-va) however people have always pronounced my name wrong and I don’t want to inflict that on my poor children haha!
    Must say though, I did feel rather important at school, whenever there was a supply/new teacher, a couple of names before mine was to be called out, everyone would turn and look at me with a big grin and all shout “it’s Neeev! not Neeem!” and make the teacher look rather silly!

  125. “Aoine” means Fri as in Friday and is pronounced Eeneh. It’s more usually referred to as Dé hAoine (pronounded: Day hEEneh) which translates to “The day of Fri or Friday”
    Aoine is sometimes used as a girl’s name.

  126. My name causes all kinds of problems – people tend to switch the s and the h round…

  127. I have a traditional Welsh name, Ceri. People from other countries outside the UK pronounce it wrong! They say SEH-REE, SEH-RI even KEE-REE and KEH-RI. But it’s just said KEH-REE. It’s so annoying! They mis-spell it to. They spell it Keri, Kerry or Cerry. And my name is hyphenated and they always put an E on the end of Ann. I like names from different languages and are traditional to that culture/country. They’re pretty and very unique in the world.

  128. Hi!. My new grandchildren living at Clane, Co.Kildare, are called Orla and the lad is Taghd. Now. Being born in Wales and that’s not far from Ireland, can anyone please advise just the correct way of pronouncing these?
    I believe that Orflaith was the original source of Orla, but Taghd may well be Thomas?
    I was born Tom Jenkins at Cardiff in ’37, but my Mum got married again, and then my name was changed to O’Farrell.
    Tom O’Farrell

  129. Trust me, Siobhan is pronounced SHIVORN.

    Got called Sebastian once from someone reading my name off a register. Screwed with my head!

  130. Siobhan is most definitely pronounced along the lines of “shiv-awn” or “Seo-vawn”, there is no “r” in the pronunciation at all.

  131. I agree Deirdre. “Shiv-awn” or “Seo-vawn” are definitely the only acceptable pronunciations of Siobhán. I’ve never heard of an “r” in the pronunciation and I’ve known quite a number of Siobháns in my life!

  132. I’m also Irish, trying to convince my English boyfriend that when we have kids they should get Irish names.

    My favourites are (for girls)
    Eibhlin, which I’ve always heard pronounced as “Ev-lin”
    Niamh (neev)
    Saoirse (seer-sha)

    (for boys)
    Tiernan (teer-nan)
    Cillian (kill-ee-an)
    Cabhan (ka-van)

  133. Does anyone know how to pronounce the name Ciadhra? I recently read it in a book, but have no idea on its pronounciation! I’m not sure on its origin either. Thanks!

  134. I love this website! We adopted a female Greyhound a few years ago and named her Aibreann(?). I found her name on a website for Irish names and it indicated the name meant April…since we adopted her in April, the name seemed appropriate. The website also indicated the name is pronounced Av-ron. Any thoughts or corrections on the meaning, spelling, or pronounciation of the name?

  135. I’ve always been told that Taghd would be used for Timothy.

    (As an aside, in the 60’s my Irish speaking Aunt was unfamiliar with the name Karen. The closest reference she could make was Ciaran so that is what I was called all her life. She never understood why my mother gave me a boys name.)

    My Orlaith gets so frustrated because since we moved to the states every one calls her OR lith or even worse OR lathe.

  136. I understand the short form of Patrick is Paid but I dont know how to pronounce it. Can anyone help please?

  137. I don’t understand. Is “aoi” prounced “ee” or “ay”? I’m wondering about the name Faoiltiama. Thanks!

  138. I’m reading a book and the name Seanie Carroll is in it. How would that be pronounced? Like Sean? Or differently because of the ‘ie’? Thanks.

  139. My name is Ciann, I am female, My name is pronounced See-ann. My whole life my name has been mis-pronounced, most people think it is lovely and the others find it peculiar. I am American with out an Irish background. My mother came across this name in 1983 from a T.V interview show she watched. It is nice to know the spelling is similar to the Irish version, but completely different in pronunciation. My mom always said she spelled it a French way, whether that is true or not I still don’t know. I have only came across one other person in my life with my name and I have to say that is wonderful.

  140. I’ve always pronounced Siobhan as Shi-vorn, I didn’t realise there were other ways!

  141. My darling daughter, Niamh is in her prep year at primary school. Her
    friend is Ciara. It seems that our tiny coastal country school is one
    of the very few places where Irish names are not mispronounced in our
    region! My middle son is Ciaran ( outside of school we have had ‘siren’,
    ‘key – ar-un’ and ‘kirrin’ ) and when he was born we could not register
    his name with the fada, as it is not “standard Australian English”, but
    apparently this has been changed with increasing numbers of non Anglo
    peeps wanting ethnically appropriate spellings! The other evening, Niamh
    said very proudly, “the mh in my name makes a fvv sound”. I am often
    praised for choosing such beautiful names for my bubs. And these gorgeous names are becoming recognisable in our culture, which has a strong Irish history – particularly at at time where distancing heritage from England is suddenly de rigeur. My Niamh, Ciaran and big bro Oliver have an Australian aboriginal heritage. And they all LOVE their names, even if they occasionally have to correct pronunciation. And spelling their names “phonetically” looks SO WRONG.

  142. I enjoy reading about different pronunciations of these difficult (for English speakers) names. My question for parents: If you live in an English speaking culture and HATE mis-pronunciations why did you choose names in an obscure language. Use any name you like but don’t be resentful of having to correct our pronunciation. The rest of us didn’t pick it. And it sure isn’t common knowledge (for English speakers)

  143. My son’s name is Dáibhí which is Irish for Davey and is pronounced dah-vee. He often gets called Daithi pronounced daw-hee which is Irish for David and is more commonly used. There is also Daibhead which is another variance on the Irish translation of David.

    Incidentally my name is pronounced shin-aid but most people get it right anyway.

  144. I used to hate my name when I was a kid because nobody could pronounce it or spell it. My name is Maura (pronounced More-uh). I don’t know how differently it’s pronounced in Ireland. I know there is more than one spelling for it over there. But here in the U.S. it seems simple enough to me. I tell people it’s just like Laura but with an M. still, I always get Mara? Myra? Murah? Moriah? And don’t even get me started on the different spellings I’ve seen.
    anyhow, now that I’m grown I love having an uncommon (in the U.S.anyway) name that also shows my Irish heritage. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

  145. I have to say I don’t understand why parents would choose a name for their child that most people where they live would struggle to pronounce! Having an Irish name in Ireland is fine, but I wouldn’t want to give my child a name that would involve constant corrections or explanations. Life is tough enough! And I certainly wouldn’t get annoyed at people for pronouncing it wrong, unless of course I’d corrected them dozens of time and it’s laziness that is the fault.

    My issue is with people giving Irish names (and other names of course) to their children when they themselves don’t understand the correct pronunciation.

  146. I don’t mind at all when people don’t know how to pronounce or spell it when it’s the first time they’ve ever heard or seen it. It’s the people who get it wrong over and over again because they just don’t listen. I am so grateful to my parents for giving me the name Maura. :)

  147. I loved the name Rory for my daughter but wasn’t in love with the y ending for a girl. I found other versions spelled Ruaidhri, Ruairi, Ruairidh, Rhuairidh, Ruaridh, Rhuaridh, Ruarídh, Ruari or Ruairí. But i live in the US and so as not to confuse too many I chose to spell it Rauri (instead of ua, I chose to switch the u and a to au) so people might understand it was pronounced like Lauri. Even though I thought I’d “simplified” it as much as possible people still try to pronounce it like “roww-ree” like “wow-ree” with an r. I cannot inagine what it would be like if I had chosen one of the more traditional spellings. But i don’t really care.. I really only wanted to make sure she had a unique name and wasn’t one of 3 Emmas, Ellas, or Emilys her class. I’m pretty sure she’ll be the only Rauri/Rory in her class and that’s all that mattered to me. I am 100% comfortable with my decisions, I think she has a lovely name that still honors our heritage yet fits in the US.

  148. I have a Devon, which you think would be a very simple pronunciation….but yet there are those who insist on calling her DEEvahn. I don’t get it……

  149. @Roisin

    I have always said my name as RAW-sheen, its a regional thing, all depends on your accent! I don’t like it when people say my name ROE-sheen but that’s just me, especially when you’ve grown up with both parents and family saying it one way, it’s very hard to get used to it said another way.

    A few members of my family in Ireland pronounce my name as ROY-sheen, but I think that’s more their accent than anything else.

    I have learned to answer to basically any name beginning with an R, growing up in Glasgow my name wasn’t all that common.

    There are still people who struggle to get their tongues around my name (unbelievable when they can say rihanna and beyonce) and now have people calling me Rosh and Rosie to make life easier!

    I love my name and all that it means but just wish people weren’t so ignorant with it’s pronunciation, the fada’s above the o and the i are there for a reason!!

    I also have an Aunt called Dervla and another Aunt called Vonla, and I don’t doubt that they have had the same problems with their names.

  150. Hey,
    Nancy,I was just wondering if you knew if Chiyanne Chiann Shianne is an Irish name because i have seen an Irish person on tv who was called Chiyanne Chiann Shiyanne and i wanted to know if it was a traditional Irish name.and if you had any other speelings of the name.Thanks

  151. Deirdre, I had that same feeling. I named my son Kieran, but not Ciaran, because I figured people in the US would butcher the Irish pronunciation beyond all telling. As it is, people always want to call him Kiernan, and I always have to tell them to take out the extra n. But they can generally pronounce it when they read it.

    If I had a girl, I love the name Roisin, but I would probably stick it in as a middle name to avoid the constant pronunciation problems.

  152. Hi all! I have a couple questions for some of the Ireland natives- would it he unheard of to name a child Eire? And also, I found a website that listed Eveny as an Irish name but havent been able to find anything elsewhere; have any of you seen this name? Possibly a different spelling? Thanks!!

  153. My name is Aoife, Pronounced Ee-fuh. not eefa or eefe or anything like that. Ee-fuh. i hate it when people get my name wrong! I mean, Im 10 now but in year 3, my teacher called me Alfie!! i mean, ALFIE!!!!!!!!

  154. My name is gaelic its kind of a family name you could say, my moms family is from Armagh.
    Im wondering if I’m pronouncing my name right (its a type of family name but…of course my parents had issues with pronouncing it) Is it Corin or Curin?

    I just want to know if anyone has heard it before? And can tell me how to properly pronounce it if they have or just know…Thanks :)

  155. Deirdre, how do I pronounce Fionnlagh, is it Fionn-lag or Fionn-lough?? Also is that the only spelling of the name?

  156. Just in response to a couple of posts above:

    Síona: Pronounced

    Sí = Sounds like she.

  157. It doesn’t take an unusual spelling or a foreign name to get people to mispronounce, or misspell, names. I named my daughter Megan, and am astounded at how often people get it wrong. Not just the spelling, which I could understand, but the pronunciation. How does anybody not know how to say “Megan”? It’s only one of the most common names in the US.
    As soon as she hit her teens she decided that it wasn’t unique (or Irish) enough, and she now goes by Siobhán. And she very much enjoys watching people react to the spelling.

  158. Hi I want to make sure I pronounce this name
    Right before we meet. Aisling. I think it’s like Ashly
    But I’m not sure.

  159. The correct pronunciation of Ashling is Ash-Ling. Incidentally it means dream in Irish Gaelic. In Irish mythology dreams are brought by the fairies so it’s often referred to as a Fairy Dream.

  160. Shannon

    Eire (Air-a) no it’s uncommon but i do know a girl with that name here.

    What about Erin (air-in) for a girl or if you wannted still to stick with the Ireland part you could spell it
    Eirinn (Prounced the same way as Erin)but it still means Ireland

    in the irish language you it’s complicated but we say
    i Eire – in ireland
    in Eireann – in ireland
    ag teach go Eirinn – coming to Ireland
    muintir na hEireann -people of Ireland

  161. Okay, nobody has mentioned the name “Naoise”. It’s an Irish name. Traditionally a boy’s name but that’s my name and I’m a girl. Naoise is pronounced like “nee-sha”.

    Also, somebody mentioned the name Ciannait and it is pronounced like “key-ah-nit”. It’s the female version of Cian.

  162. There are two parents at my centre

    Grainne – pronounced Gron-yea and

    Myfanwy – pronounced Mif-an-wee

    I’m sick of my co-workers mispronouncing them but didn’t see them above (granted I didn’t look at all posts) but thought I’d add them. I’m after teh correct pronunciation of:


    I understand these could all be Welsh/Scottish but thought someone may be able to help me

  163. I’m living in England and have chosen “easy” spellings for my sons’ names but would have no problem picking an Irish name that people may not know how to pronounce.

    I love teaching people how to pronounce my name – my problem is with people who make no effort to say it correctly or try to tell me it makes no sense. Of course it doesn’t make sense if you’re thinking in English! Irish has more regular rules of pronunciation than English does, allowing for regional dialects, which are an issue in all languages.

    Niamh is Nee-uv: diphthong there in the middle gets dropped in some dialects and I generally settle for Neev from non-Irish speakers. The v sound is softer, more like vf if that makes sense? Definitely never Nee-am though.

    The universal pronunciation of Cáitlín as Katelyn does drive me mad though, couldn’t use that name now…

  164. @Tabatha

    Myfanwy – Muh-VAN-ooh-y
    Gruffydd – Griff-ith (Th as in THE not as in THROW)
    Ceirwan – Kayr-wan (very short A sound)
    Dafydd – Dav-ith (Th as in THE not as in THROW)

    These are all Welsh names

    I’ve never heard of Grainne before.

  165. Thank you so much Daffyd. This certainly helps me :-)

    I love Irish & Welsh names & would like to name my children all Irish, Welsh or Scottish names. My husband doesn’t want to as he has difficulty spelling & pronouncing them but I was brought up in a Scottish/Irish & Welsh/British family & he was brought up in an Australian family.

  166. I live in the north of Ireland. I love unusual Irish names My little girls name is Cadhla, I pronounce it Ky-la but it can also be pronounced as Kay-la. I love her name and there are no other Cadhlas around us. People do have problems pronouncing it when they see it written down but I don’t mind correcting them, my name is rarely ever pronouced right either. I’m struggling to come up with a really nice boys name though, there are so many Caolans, Cahirs, Oisins, Tiernans etc in our area.

  167. I have a student who insists she pronounces her name as “Nee-ah-may” . It really irks me that her parents didn’t look up how to pronounce Niamh. She’s going to spend her whole life teaching people how to pronounce her name differently.

  168. @Vivienne – That irks me as well.

    Even worse, it’ll be the *daughter* who gets all the negative reactions, never the parents — the ones who decided Niamh should be mispronounced “Nee-ah-may” in the first place. Their mistake, yet she has to pay for it. Poor kid.

  169. Being called Eimear, and now living on the contintent, I have a constant battle with the pronounciation of my Irish name! Most often I get I-meer, Emmer, Imir, or Immer! The English tend to say “Ee-mar”! I am used to it now (luckily!), but decided to call my daughter Tara, or opposed to my favourite name ever, Niamh, to save her the trouble I have had!!!

  170. You wouldn’t believe how frustrating its been through my life being called see-mus instead of shay-mus.

  171. I am Canadian of distant Irish heritage. When we named our eldest daughter Siobhan, I did worry about the spelling and pronunciation errors she’d face. My best friend Anne (with an e) advised me to get over it. People will get even the simplest names wrong. My daughter is now 29, and takes pleasure in explaining her name, and discovering others’ names. Many people need to see a name written down as it is explained to remember it. In today’s multi-cultural world the exchange of names is the beginning of beautiful friendships.

  172. @orfhlaith by the way my name is Niamh and you
    Don’t pronounce it like ne-amph it’s neev
    I get annoyed when people call me neamph
    But my dad calls me nim and I don’t mind

  173. My 3 children are called elise, delaney and eamon which is often mispronounced as eeman! :)

  174. @Marie, re: I have a friend whose son is named Cian. Some people think it should rhyme with Ryan, both with a hard and soft “C” — ie: sigh-an, kie-an.

  175. Hi I am named after Brian Boru and was thinking of naming my daughter Bé Binn.

    Anyone know the pronunciation?

  176. A regional accent can change a name’s pronunciation – my argument is it’s unreasonable (and slightly snobby) to argue that a Northern Irish version is simply a mispronounced one. Names evolve. I don’t mind if someone calls me RO-sheen or ROSH-een as they are both Irish pronunciations. Yes, I know where the fada goes -I don’t have one on my qwerty keyboard. Rois is Irish for rose, and the -in at the end of a name gives it a diminutive form. Bit like Anne becoming Annie in English.

  177. With a baby girl on the way, my wife and I are leaning towards Aine. However, I’m not 100% on the pronunciation!
    I know most places in the south of Ireland say Awn-ya, but I’m pretty sure it can be pronounced Anya as well.
    Could you verify that for me please?

  178. The correct pronunciation for Áine is “Awn-ya”. Also there should be an accent (fada) over the letter “A”. The effect caused by the accent is to change the pronunciation of the letter “A” from “ah” to “aw”.
    Áine in Irish Gaelic is equivalent to Anne in English

  179. Interesting set of posts. I only came here because I heard a TV presenter constantly (mis-, as I thought) pronouncing “Niamh” and “Neeve”. Now, I know better.

    We expect e.g. French names to be “different” because they speak, well, French. It never occurred to me, however, that Irish people would have a completely separate lexicon and orthography for proper names, whilst still generally speaking in English. I’ve gone my entire life saying “Kate-Linn” and “See-ob-hahn” etc and no one has corrected me, unfortunately.

    If Irish people spoke “Irish” most of the time, then these strange names/spellings/pronunciations wouldn’t appear strange to me.


  180. Hi Frank – You’re absolutely spot on mate! But the lack of a fada means it’s pronounced “Anya”. In the same way my own name can be Ciaran (Keer-an) or Ciarán (Keer-awn).
    That little accent makes the same name in spelling VERY different in pronunciation.
    Thanks for your reply though!!!

  181. Hi I am named after Brian Boru and was thinking of naming my daughter Bé Binn.

    Anyone know the pronunciation?

    BUMP… Anyone?

  182. Sorry Brian.

    Some of the books I have are telling me BAY-vin, others BEY-vin. (To me these sound the same, but to others they may not.)

    An Anglicized spelling that might make pronunciation a bit easier is “Bevin.”

  183. Hi Brian,
    The pronunciation is bay-vin literally meaning ‘sweet mouth’ using that spelling but the name has evolved and the most common irish spelling is Béibhinn which is beautiful. It is pronounced Bevin or Bay-vin. You can also spell it Beibhínn which would be. Bev-een because of where the accent is placed.

  184. i love irish names, the spelling and the way they are said, they’re simply beautiful. language and accents interest me, but you can’t blame someone for not saying something properly when they don’t know better, though if you correct them and they still say the wrong name thats just rude.
    i am from australia, my name is michelle and as a nickname i use mickei like mickey, but people constantly call me shelly, they dont even bother asking me and even if i say i dont like it people still tend to continue if theyve started it. two of the women i work with have their names said wrong alot, karen here is pronounced ca(like in cat)-ren, very strong and fast, where as karen at work has a south african background and she says car-ren, but if teh ren is softer. then there is xiomara, who is called by her middle name patricia (for australians it would be sha at the end but she has a spanish background and its see-a)and she hates the trish nickname or sound. i’ve encouraged them to correct people and not settle for a name that isn’t theres. people do their best but they don’t realise they say names wrong. like when american kirstens come here, we would most likely say kersten, where as they tend to go by keersten, or here the names tara and aaron are pronounced ta-ra (a sound like lalala) and ah-ren/ron but i hear americans often say them like air-a with a t of course and air-en or erin. aaron is a really popular name around my area and it boggles my mind sayng the a like an e. but hey i don’t need to say anything because its not my name. sometimes an accent can simply change the sound, and it really isn’t their fault, they think they’re making the same sound and a native speaking person would pick up on the wrong sound. names like siobhan, which is one of my faves, people are spelling the sound out like shi-vawn or shi-vorn, to me these spelling sound exactly the same, from my life orn makes a awn sound and vise vera. from my experience in australia the r is quite soft and bareky there when we talk. words like ever, uh, huh, ha, car,ah, ta, ma, duh, all have the same sound, so uh, ah,a,ar or er would all sound alike, maybe with a diff emphasis depending on mood or accent. aoife, my favourite irish name, though i really like eife too(mu understanding is they are ee-fa and ay-fa), is what i hope to call one of my daughters, though even sometimes i mess all the different names up and have to think oh wait which ones pronounced which way again. one of my old mates names her daughter eabha (ay-va), her husband is irish, when i was talking to my older sister about it saying how i loved it, she was like thats not right thats not the irish spelling for ava, i was like um her husbands irish i think he’d know better than you. i think she grew to love the name aoife too, but doesnt remember she got it from me, and thinks thats how ava is spelt in irish. its a lot of misunderstandings, but if its your name or your childs name just correct people, that is how they learn, and don’t be too harsh if it sounds a tad diff by one sound, its prob just the accent. names are a beautiful thing, language is a beautiful thing, they can also be confusing.

  185. My name is Aisling (Ash-ling) and my sisters are Sinead (Shin-ade) and Caitlín (Cat-lin). Sinead is usually pronounced correctly given its popularity but Aisling and Caitlín never are.
    Have never come across another Caitlín pronounced Cat-lin though!

  186. My name is Marsali (MAR-suh-lee) which is Scottish Gaelic. Traditional spelling would be Marsailaidh. I am a little glad that my parents went with the “simpler” spelling as people have a hell of a time with pronounciation as it is! Usual is “Mar-SAA-lee”. I’ve been called Marshall before. And have had any number of interesting spellings offered. :) but, without fail, when I tell people my name, I get compliments on it and its uniqueness. :)

  187. I was watching a TV show with an Irish girl whose name was pronounced “AY-lish”. Any idea how this would be spelled?

  188. I used to have a neighbour who’s grandchild was named siobhan and that’s what they insisted on calling her “See Bon”

  189. My names rumhann, pronounced i believe ‘ru-van’ or ‘rue-van’, but i have been called ‘rue-an’ before by some irish.
    Muireann is another, pronounced i believe somethin like ‘mi-rin’ or ‘mur-rin’.

    Siobhan is quite common in US, so surprise people still can’t pronounce it.
    I think lack of flexibility in separating the spelling and actual pronunciation from the perceived english rules of pronunciation is due to the older times expectancy of anglicizing your name when you emigrated to the US or UK. So people expect your name to be pronounced the way its spelled, even when you say otherwise. Some people find it hard to accept. ‘Aaaah! The alphabet is broken!’

  190. Lovely thread! My Liam was called Leon until Liam Neeson made it big. My name has caused great confusion for all my years (Canadian prairies); my family has always said Deer-dree. I often get Dee-dra or deer-dra. I would be curious about the authentic pronunciation.

    Re the comments about names difficult to pronounce, either you can be one of a gazillion Bella’s or spend your life saying, I’ll spell that for you!

  191. @Deirdre – As a rule southern provences in Ireland would say Deer-dra and northern would say Deer-Dree so either is right. You get a lot of names that have 2 authentic pronunciations depending on accents which change all over Ireland very readily.

    @Kathryn – Blanaid is pronounced Blaw-nid but the d is a soft sound almost like th in ‘the’ not a sharp d at all. It’s a d from the roof of your mouth Hope that makes sense it’s hard to explain.

  192. Im a Caoimhe – but my family pronounce it Key – v (if that makes sense). My sisters are Dearbhaile (Dervla) & Aoife (eefa.

    I was born in the 80s & raised in London and people constantly were baffled by my name & pronounced it key-o-me (still do) however it makes me laugh when i read on baby blogs that a child would be scarred for life with an unusual name etc.. I love having an unusual name and definitely will follow my mothers lead. When I met another Caoimhe in my 20s I felt sad as I no longer was unique!! I would hate a boring common name!

  193. am looking for opinions on the pronunciation of Cormac. My Donegal father pronounced it COR – muc. Most people (here in the states) insist on calling my son Cor -MACK. Have only met two other Cormacs here and one followed the Donegal pronunciation and one the “wrong one” !

  194. I have a little great-granddaughter who has been named Neve Aisling. Neve is Portuguese for “snow” and is pronounced “nevvy.” My granddaughter-in-law is Brazilian.

  195. I don’t understand why people get upset when their name is pronounced wrong. When I was a kid I was doing roll call and I mistakenly called someone “Seen” who’s real name was spelled Sean(another spelling is Shawn). I had never seen Sean or Shawn written down before and I tried my best. They told me the right way to say it, and now I know how to say it. It’s no big deal, everyone can’t be expected to know everything. So next time someone get’s it wrong, just let them know the right way…and who cares about how it looks when written anyways. Make up any name with any spelling you want to. Nobody can tell you it is wrong just because it’s been known in the past by another spelling. It’s your name to give, do it how you want to.

  196. Someone mentioned Cahir way back in the posts, it is pronounced like ‘hair’ but with a hard c . It is a town in Co. Tipperary. My daughter is called Ceitinn, pronounced Kay-tin. Its The Irish surname Keating translated into Gaelic. Nobody gets it right…we live in the UK now!

  197. Wow, all the names are so beautiful! I find my name boring sometimes; wish I had something interesting :)

  198. so i was looking how to say aoife but im a sad case ive seen every type of how pronounce it but until i hear someone say it to me the closest i get is like ava srry if that angers any on the aoifes on here and i read someone elses post that has a leigh in their name but has ppl missing how to say it…my dad had originally wanted to spell my name ashleigh but forgot how to spell it so i got the most normal way of spelling and it took me forever watching tv and reading books that aislinn is ashlyn (using english spelling cuz thats all i can understand) cian has a k sound and that niall with or without an e was neal i still mess up sometimes so i need to find an aoife in my area and have them say their name

  199. My sister is Shivahn like Siobhán and it is NOT like chiffon. It do not rhyme with John. It rhymes with Dawn. I like the way my parents kept the ‘h’, think autobahn not chiffon

    Take my name Shawn in Gaelic it is Seán rhymes with Dawn if you rhyme it with John it is sean (with out the fada) which in Gaelic means ‘old’, who wants to be called old?

    I meet a 40ish woman named Siobhan and she was in shock that I pronounced her mane right. In her all her live I was only the third person outside her family to get her name right.

  200. I agree with all of the people on here who recommend flexibility with pronunciation and acceptance. It’s no fun living your life fervently arguing with people about the spelling/sound of your/your child’s name. Kindly remind/tell them how to pronounce it, and if they keep getting it wrong, grin and bear it and just think whatever to yourself. I have a pretty normal name, but I still get people mispronouncing it. I get Rachelle (French) and Raquel (Spanish), and some people spell it Rachelle or Racheal/Rachael. I just kindly correct them and tell them it’s Rachel, and if they still have trouble, then I switch to my nickname Rae. I also go by Araea, as it’s a lovely name, and that gets some people confused too. Sometimes they get it right (Are-ay-uh) and sometimes they say it wrong, Air-ee-uh. It’s really just the drawback of and infusion of differences.

    I’m planning my children’s names with the knowledge that they probably aren’t going to be pronounced right. I have Aislin Mairead (I can’t do the fada, so please don’t be angry about that), Ash-Lynn Tamryn, Reia Lee, and Jonathan Sebastien.

    Also, I wanted to say something about the “arguing” if you will about the difference between things like (Awn), (Ahn), (On) and so on. To me, those all sound the same. I think it’s that way with a lot of English speakers. You can write it and complain about it all you want, but most of the time, we’ll probably still not get it exactly to your liking because of the way we learned to speak. You have to understand that our accents aren’t the same as yours and make allowances for that. It’ll make your life much easier.

  201. Wow-one of the longest threads ever!

    I was almost named Erin Maureen to go with my Irish surname of Clancy, but now I see that those names are likely American spellings.

    Is Padraic the name we use as “Patrick” here in the US?

  202. Oh wow… I’m surprised to see posts from this month on here. I found this because I was searching for pronunciation of Eitne, which I have found is either eth-nee, eth-na, en-ya, ath-na, an-ya. I’m so confused, is it just a regional one? I like Eithne, and I’m considering changing my name to it (for many reasons, including those someone mentioned why their daughter changed her name. Boring and not Irish.) Is the Eth-na pronunciation a valid one?

    Also, on the topic of misspelling/pronouncing names… I’d think that Teresa would be common enough for people to grasp. But no. I get called “Treesa” or “Tracy” or “Tricia” a lot, as well as spellings of Theresa, Tereasa, Treasa, Terisa, and about a million others. Oh, and don’t even get me started on how many people act like they’re so original with the nicknames. Like I’ve never heard “Mother Teresa” before.

  203. I have a son named Tadhg, and daughters Niamh and Maire. In a world full of unusual names, and unusual spellings of common names, my children have beautiful names that honor our family heritage. Mine are now 19, 17 and 14 and love their beautiful names.
    My suggestions to anyone considering using an irish name in the US would be this:
    Make sure you are spelling and pronouncing the name correctly yourself!!
    Send out baby announcements that include the babys name as well as the pronounciation and the meaning if there is one.
    When your child enters school, contact the teacher, principal and office secretary to provide them with the correct spelling and pronounciation.
    Likewise, make sure doctors, dentists, etc. are clued in.
    Buy some items that have your childs name printed on them (backpack, signs for rooms, personalized stationary, etc.); they will not find items pre-printed with their name so it’s important to provide that.
    Be prepared for them to want another name when they hit 3rd or 4th grade and realize that its just an age thing.
    If you can find books with characters or authors of the same name…buy them. Otherwise, you can order books that are personalized with your childs name.

  204. Hey, Molly, I like your thinking! We did similar, ordering personalised things for both Ciaran and Niamh.
    Ciaran is in grade 3 and likes his name. He hates diminutives of it, as do I regarding my name. Not surprising when the nick names he has got are, ‘keiry’, ‘ronny’ and ‘kron’.
    Niamh has not yet had her name diminished, and I suspect she won’t as in our region single syllable names get extended, so, she will possibly have to contend with a ‘y’ or ‘oh’ suffixes. Niamh does have her own family pet name, she likes ‘nee- noo’ and ‘noo-ey’ and as she’s getting older, we often just sing out, ‘noo’!
    We have all tried to come up with diminutives of their father’s name, but ‘Paul’ just doesn’t really work with name play, non anglo versions just dont suit him, and ‘paulie’ is just wrong!

  205. My name is spelled Kathleen , I grew up in a mainly Irish community on the English mainland in the 1950s. My name was always pronounced Kat-leen and I was often told that the Irish spelling was Caitlin. I teach and many girls now have the name Caitlin pronounced Cate-lin – also there are lots of children with Irish sounding names but with some very odd spellings eg Shernade for Sinead. I can only think that families have heard the name and come up with their own way of spelling it!

  206. How do you pronounce “Maolshachlan?” Thanks bunches!

    Also any ideas; my grandmother’s name was supposed to something “Maigh….” I think that it had “t’s” maybe more “g’s” and /or “d”-but since the midwife couldn’t spell it, she ended up as “Madge” or “Maggie”

  207. Maolshachlan is pronounced “Mwail-shock-lan although the “k” sound in shock might be a little softer than in that English word.

    Your intended grandmother’s name might have been Maighréad which would be pronounced something like My-rayd

  208. Kath, the name should have an accent on the final “i” as in Caitlín. the effect of the accent is to change the sound to “ee”. Caitlín should be pronounced something like “Cothleen”.

    The Cate-lin pronunciation that I frequently hear in the US is totally wrong and is due to people taking this Irish Gaelic name and giving the letters English sounds and values. I try to remind people that it’s a different language just as San José (Spanish) is not pronounced San Joe-zz.

  209. These replies are all so wonderful! I have a question about a name, and I hope you can help. How would you pronounce “Rath Conarta?” Would it end up as something like Roth-cone-ran or something else?

  210. Caitlín, mispronounced as Kate-Lynn. Caitlín, of course, is pronounced Catchleen in Irish, and is the original Irish version of Kathleen. But if you read the Irish spelling as an English word, you get Kate-Lynn. Of course, I have no objection to people calling their children Kate-Lynn and spelling it that way. I just find Caitlín being pronounced that way a bit ridiculous. It’s like pronouncing Seán as See-ann, or Séamus as See-ahmus, or Máire as mare, as in female horse.

    The thing that really annoys me about names like this is not just their pretentiousness, it’s that they do the opposite of what they set out to do. These people are presumably giving such names to their children to emphasise their Irishness and their love of their heritage. But nobody with any Irish would ever call their child Cailín or mispronounce Sorcha as Sorsha. Names like this are relegating Irish to the status of a dead language because the message is that in selecting an Irish name, you can just go by the sound of the word without caring about its meaning, or mess around with the pronunciation any way you want because nobody will know any different.
    I’ll have to say a quick word in defense of Sorcha. I have a friend from early childhood called Sorcha. She pronounces her name ‘Sor-sha’. Since she was wee, Sorcha has been plagued by people asking her why she pronounces her name ‘funny’ (funny being not ‘Sor-Kah’ – which would be common at home). Sorcha has always said the same thing – it’s a family name, and they pronounce it the way they always have. After the teacher who spoke some Irish at our school quizzed poor Sorsh in front of the whole class, and she made her usual reply, he told her ‘yeah well, the way you say your name is the Irish for George’. And the poor girl got called ‘George’ for years afterwards!

  211. JB, thanks for the great comment.

    The idea that mispronounced Irish names are more than just foolish-sounding — that they’re actually *harmful* to the Irish language in a sense — is really interesting.

  212. @Kylie

    Not sure about Kaie, but Cariad is the Welsh verb “to love”, pronounced “CARRY-add”.

  213. my son’s name is Cian (Kee-an) and my good friends name is Caoilfhionn (Kwee-lan). Those Irish!

  214. We named our daughter Aislinn (pronounced Ash-lin). It is pronounced Ayz-lin most of the time.

  215. My first name is obviously easy but I’m always getting will-de instead of Wilde.
    Come on folks, he’s one of not just Ireland’s but one of the world’s greatest playwrights. How hard is it to pronounce Wilde? :-)

  216. I too have a daughter Aislinn. It is more correctly pronounced with a sound about halfway between Ash-linn and Ash-ling. The “inn” at the end of an Irish word “inn”-“ing” sound which is foreign to the English language. Living over here in the US we usually tell people that the “ing” sound is more correct.

  217. I know a girl called Charis (pronounced Karr-iss)..the amount of people who pronounce the “Ch” is unreal!

  218. Meave (yes Meave!)

    i have a sister called Siobhan – the Ulster/Donegal Irish is a softer pronounciation – the BH is silent when preceeded and followed by a vowel – hence pronounced ‘Show-ann’. unfortunately her name is always mispronounced and people seem to think she can’t pronounce her own name! My name can be spelt Maeve and Meave as well as other versions but most people misspell my name but think i misspell my own. a number of mispronunciations have come about because the names have been heard on TV in American or Australia and people think that is the way to pronounce it. Many Irish names are pronunced differently depending on which part of Ireland they are being used – this is because of local dialects and doesn’t make some wrong and some right.

  219. I love irish names, cant wait to have another baby lol. Im from scotland but my grandpa was from ireland and i still have family in differnt parts. My cousin in ashling and her brother carlus :) my kids are kayley leigham and eoghan, kayley is easy “kay ley” leigham people hav sais leyam, leighton, leighan and leham its “liam” eoghan has had ian, euan, oghan and eugine and it is “owen” :)

    I love aoife naimh orlaith and caoimhe for a girl
    I love cillian cian rhonan reegan and shawn for a boy

  220. I’m Irish and I have two daughters Aoibhíonn (E – veen) and Caoimhe (Kee – va) We went to America last year and I ended up having to bring Aoibhíonn to the hospital and no offence to any Americans but oh my god I’ve never heard worst attempts at pronouncing Aoibhíonn ! The best was probably Oven haha who would name their child oven?

  221. How is Bairbre pronounced? She is a member of the European Parliament from Northern Ireland.

  222. Bairbre is actually pronounced the same as Barbara or Barbra, it’s just an Irish spelling

  223. I live in Belfast Nothern Ireland. Firstly, I want to say that my name is mispronunced quite a bit… The funniest was Camm-ah-gee! But I don’t mind because its my heritage, my family. I am Irish, and I love having an Irish name to confirm that. When I go on holidays people get my name wrong… An American girl named Jayden called me Cave, as she couldn’t get her head around the pronounciation even when she knew how it should be said! I don’t mind correcting people, because I am proud of my name, as I am proud of the history it represents. I also wanted to say that, living in Belfast, there are so many Irish speakers and I think that’s fantastic, as we’re preserving the language. I am 14 years old :) x

  224. We wanted to go with an Irish name for our little one when she arrives. I’ve found Keira which i love and also came across Ceire. Are these both pronounced the same? If not, how to you pronounce Ceire? Thank you!!

  225. Name I’m curious about: Aibhailia

    I came across the name Aibhailia and have not been able to find a pronunciation or meaning. I’m under the impresssion it would be pronounce Eh-v-eh-lea, but am hoping someone on here might have run across it somewhere before.

  226. We chose Ciera for our eldest. When she was 1st born all the nurses would look at the name on her cot which we initialy spelt Ciara and kept pronouncing as Tiara (Fancy headwear) with a C.

  227. I am a retired teacher and have come across many names that I have mispronounced. If you name a child with these correct ethnic spellings you should be prepared every time to explain how to pronounce it. People are taught to read phonetically and are not born with an innate ability to pronounce words from a foreign lexicon. It is demeaning to put people down who have no knowledge of this. I cannot believe that in naming a child with one of these beautiful names, that you do not realize this and simply accept it. Most of the posts seem to be making fun of people and it is a little elitist.

  228. My parents decided not to spell my name Cliodhna as they thought it would confuse people so they spelled it Cliona. Personally, I prefer Cliodhna. I also have a sister called Ciara and a sister called Caitlin. Our family pronounce it Cay-th-lyn (obviously Irish)

  229. We named our daughter Caitriona (ka-tree-na) and were amazed in the hospital when the staff asked if we were sure about how we pronounced it….are, yeah, pretty sure….we chose the name after all!! We know that she will always have to correct people who see it written and want to pronounce it Kate-tree-o-na……and she’ll always have to spell it for people or she will get the German spelling. But I have learnt that it doesn’t matter how simple your name is….people will muck it up!!

  230. Looking at names for a girl and one that I like is Aille, after a river in County Clare. Does anyone know how this is pronounced? I saw somewhere that it is AL-yeh, but not sure if it’s AL as in AL-len or like ALL? Or if it’s pronounced completely differently!

  231. Hi Kim,
    Aille is pronounced like isle-yeh as in island. Beautiful name which also means beautiful!

  232. I have to say I try my hardest to pronounce the beautiful Irish names correctly (which is why I check out sites for pronunciation, for my job).
    But having grown up without speaking Irish or their alphabet I won’t get it right all of the time, so please, have a little patience, I am trying.

  233. My names Aoife but I live in England ad people are aaaalways getting my name wrong and it annoys me sooo much but I have learnt to deal with it and be polite and say it with the correct pronunciation now x

  234. Most people can get my name once I explain it the first time, but my sister’s name is Eilis, and everyone gets it wrong. She’s been called Ellis, Isis, Ellie, and even Elvis. She absolutely hates it, especially as we live in England. You don’t know how many times she has to go it’s Eye-lish, though I know that some people pronounce it Ailish. She doesn’t mind Ailish, but it’s exhausting for her to keep telling teachers and classmates that they’re wrong. Then people insist in spelling it wrong too. Our mum gets so annoyed. They think she can’t spell her own daughter’s name and she hates it.

  235. Why would someone use Irish spelling for a name and be offended because people get it wrong using commonly accepted English pronunciation rules. In my informed opinion, using Irish spellings outside of Ireland is just pretentious or nationalistic to a fault. Now, if I said IMIO, would you try to pronounce it in Irish. LMAO – and no, thats not Liam!

  236. I would hardly call my parents pretentious. What about people who use traditional African or Indian names are they prententious too? Perhaps it was different for me as I grew up in London however I do agree its silly to be offended or worried about kids getting teased at school. In fact 2 girls I went to school with in the late 80s/90s recently chose Caoimhe as their daughters names (no Irish connections) I took that as a huge compliment.

  237. both my daughters have irish names bridin-irish for bridget and carleen-irish for Charles ,called after my grand-parents,

  238. You go out of your way to find a name that is “unusual to the geographical area”, then you are unhappy that your name is mispronounced. Think how frustrating it is for the reader of a name to be completely stymied by unfamiliar spelling and dialect.
    Chill! Enjoy that your name will not be confused with anyone elses:).

  239. @Maura: Love the name- that’s our one year old’s name as well. Re the pronunciation, I think it can vary. We pronounce it MAR-ra. Like Mars, with a ra at the end instead of the “s”.

  240. I love Irish names mentioned above. They have some beautiful histories and meanings. Having a Dutch name in Australia was a pain growing up but now I love it. In English it is pronounced as gaysha. I used to enter new babies into the government databases here and I was more shocked at people who wanted to name their kids traditional English names but wanted to spell them differently. Jaymz- James. Mackz- max. Linkin- lincoln

  241. Hi :) Can anyone tell me how to pronounce these three particular names?


    Their scottish gaelic, well Gaothaire and Deorsa are but Leith is just scottish.

  242. @Orfhlaith, I agree with Jemma, Seamus is never pronounced “see-mis”! Its “shay-mus”! And Niamh is pronounced “neeve”!

  243. @Stiobhan

    The pronunciation is very close to that of “Steven,” if not exact. It depends on dialect. Its not a native Irish name as far as I’m aware, but an Irish-ised version of “Stephen/Steven.”

  244. @Vicki

    Ethpeal is not an Irish name, so I cannot help you in that regard.

    I would think its just pronounced as its spelled.

  245. I find myself wondering how many Americans name their kids Irish names because their families are Irish who simply have an Irish surname because a handful of great-great-great-grandparents came over from Ireland.

  246. Hey
    I’m a irish traveler girl but was taken away from my family at a young age.
    Both my parents sadly passed. Four months I gave birth to handsome little baby boy.
    How do you pronounce Alex James in irish. Would be much appreciated.

  247. Hi Heather,

    I’m not sure about Alex, but James is definitely Seamus (my eldest son’s name.) Good luck and enjoy your new little boy!!

  248. How do you pronouce Shona. In Irish. I have an Irish family but grew up in uk . My Mum and Irish family friends pronouce it differently to everyone else. Irish people at work are now pronouncing it , the way English people do …because they think that’s correct, and i say it differently My Mum says its an accent thing but I think no ..Many thanks.

  249. I’d like someone from Ireland to pronouce it…. To avoid confusion. Many Thanks

  250. Ciara = just as Keira Knightley pronounces her name.
    Definitely NO elongation on the ‘ia’ vowel.

  251. At the Commonwealth Games, a 14 years old swimmer named Sycerika McMahon made headlines in the press.

    Has someone information about the name Sycerika (pronouciation, derivation, meaning, anything)?

  252. The Belfast Telegraph reported in early 2010 that her name is Indian and means “flame of a candle,” and this was repeated in an Irish Examiner article called Ireland’s Olympic ‘Flame’ fired up two years later. I’m having a hard time verifying the definition with outside sources, though. (I imagine Sycerika herself was the source for both of those articles.)

    She has an older brother named Kenneth, btw.

  253. Interesting reading! My mother was from an Irish background and wanted to call me Sian or Sinead, however, my father couldn’t pronounce it and wasn’t keen on an Irish name, so I ended up with the English variant. I LOVE Irish names and I’m having a go at trying to learn how to speak Irish.

  254. How about Brighid? In Gaelic it’s pronounced Bride (Nick name Bridy) but my parents have always pronounced it Bridge-id. My grandfather from cork always called me Bridy though. Always got called by my last name by teachers growing up.

  255. My mum has always had the nickname Mausha,, which her family pronounce as Moy-zha….where does that come from? Is it spelt right, and I was told it means woman, but never seen it anywhere else.

    Thanks for help x

  256. Oisín is actually pronounced AW-sheen. If you put it phonetically with an O as in O-sheen people think it’s pronounced like an o sound as in Ocean, but it’s not. My son is named Oisín and in America people have a difficult time with it, but I am really happy with it and it’s really no big deal to correct. My name is as usual as you get and I get Jennifer or Jillian or they like to shorten my name to Jess or Jessie even though I introduce myself as Jessica. My husband is Stephen and people automatically call him Steve or call him Stefen, because of the ph or spell it Steven. I will never dumb down a name for anyone just to make it easy, because people will mess names up no matter what. I also have a Trafford, Liam, and Tiernagh. I love Aoife, Ciarán, and Enda.

  257. Tony, I think it is an alternate spelling of my daughter’s name Tiernagh which is pronounced Teerna. The “gh” is silent, but I think a “ch” makes it a guttural sound at the end like a “k” sound.

  258. Brighid there is also a name Bríd, which is pronounced Breed so that could be another pronunciation of your name since “gh” in Irish is usually silent.

  259. Stiobhan I think it pronounced Shteevawn. My husband’s name is Stephen, but in Irish it’s Stiofán pronounced Shteefawn.

  260. Ruaidrí: Rory
    Niamh: Neeve, hate when people call her Neve.
    Don’t know what I was thinking giving my kids Irish names to go through the school system in Canada ;)

  261. Thanks Colleen. My family (from Mayo and Kerry) has always pronounced my name Cawtch-leen and after probably 40 years with the name being pronounced Kate-lynn, I finally met another Cawtch-leen!
    To Jane Alexander’s point about mispronounciation, I have voluntarily ‘Americanized” my name to Kate-lynn at work and in social situations until (and if) I get to know someone better. Then I let on that my name is really Caawtch-leen, which is then mis-pronounced as Cawsh-lynn. Sigh. I just got tired of the first 3-5 minutes of every single conversation being about my name. It’s funny when I ask/invite people to call me “Cawtch-leen” and then they ask me how it’s spelled. “Caitlin/Cawtch-leen, different pronounceiation, same spelling”, I say, and then they look at me funny :)

  262. When I started writing my novel, the idea of using Celtic names was a no-brainer as was tracking down the orthography for each of the six insular Celtic languages. The problems came when the proofreader asked the dreaded “How do you pronounce this?” leaving me with the problem of do I keep the names or use their anglicized spelling. Many of the names, I am familiar with the pronunciation but not their initial spelling and a couple like Sean (Shawn or Shane depending on whether the e is stressed) I knew beforehand.

    Aoife, be happy its not Iva. I have heard a few avoid the debate altogether and shortened it to “Eve”.

    Caitlin has be listed as the most slaughtered Irish name is the USA followed ironically by Brian. Strangely Catlin is usually pronounced right, & I have yet to hear anyone slaughter Briana (Brian’s feminine version). Even stranger, most can’t even pronounce Catrin, yet have no problem with Katrina.

    & I’m still shaking my head on one of them- how in the word does one slaughter Ian?

  263. My friend is called aodhfin (pronounced e-fin) which gets mispronounced all the time as ethan. There’s just a few others you seemed to have missed: dáire (da-ra, dar-ra) , ornaigh (or-NA) and aíbheann (A-veen)

  264. I combed through 7 pages of pronunciations and didn’t see the one I was looking for (sorry if I missed it; I went a bit crossed-eyed!). Could someone please tell me how to pronounce Aedh? It comes up in Yeats a lot and I’ve asked several of my (American) professors and they gave me very different pronunciations. I think they don’t want to admit they have no idea. ;) Is it like AID, or like EED, or AY-DUH, or something else entirely? Thanks!!

  265. Ace: Aedh is pronounced as the letter “A” is pronounced when spelling a word or saying the alphabet.

  266. This thread is ancient and the name has been covered but: Máire

    I understand that most of the time it’s either pronounced like an American would pronounce “Maura”,”Moira” (more emphasis on the OY), or “Mara” (or any of those but with a Y sound in place of the R)

    But there is this audio clip of Frank McCourt pronouncing it My-ra (with perhaps a bit of a W sound after the M or R for good measure), and I need to know if McCourt is just weird or if this is an actual regional pronunciation

  267. The correct pronunciation for Máire is ”Moira” with more emphasis on the OY (unlike English diphthongs in the Irish language almost always have the emphasis on the second sound). Frank McCourt’s seeming pronunciation is really just the effect of his Limerick accent on the word.

  268. @frank – thankya!

    Moira (emphasis OY) is generally, in my experience, how that name / similarly emphasized names are pronounced in American English

    English English is a whole other ballgame

    I’m trying to find a middle name
    My name is Mary, but I kind of hate that name so I’m changing it to Michael so that my nickname makes sense / I want a masculine name

    But I want a middle name that is a variant of Mary out of deference to my parents

    (Cant do Michael Mary. Toni Morrison named a character Michael Mary in Song of Solomon, and she basically represented white priveldge.)

    ANYWAY not really feeling the Moira pronunciation

    I’m not Irish anyhow. My most recent Irish ancestor immigrated from Sligo like 200 years ago.

  269. Being irish, I have to say that I find it quite annoying when people tell me that irish names do not sound like they spell. That is because irish is another language.Irish names are prounounced “as Gaeilge” (in gaelic), which is the irish language

    I appreciate that irish names can be dificult to pronunce coming from an english speaking context but the whole point is that it is a diffientent language so embrace the differences people lol.

    Gaelic is a very flowing language.By that I mean that there is often an extra sound (very slight, but it is there) within a name.

    Many names are largely pronounced phonetically here but some have the slightest extra pronounciation within them.
    For example:

    Aoife has been sounded out as EE-fe but there is an “o” in the name and it is sounded out very briefly when pronouncing it ,almost to the point of not actually hearing the letter. The correct pronounciation is ee-o-fe. This has the tendency to give the name a little more volumn when pronounced and not as slender if prounced with just the “ee” sound.

    There are many letter combinations in Gaelic that when pronounced sound out an entirely diferent sound.

    Depending on where certain letter combinations are with an name or word (beginning,middle or end) they can sound differently.

    If you want to knowhow o prounce irish names just ask me. Please.

    Beautiful irish names have too long being massacred lol

  270. Sean, You are absolutely right in what you say, Aoife should be pronounced in the manner you explain. However, English speakers have great difficulty in making these sounds. Most of them are quite foreign to English, particularly the double diphthongs common in Irish (Gaelic). The attempts here to phonetically reproduce the Irish sounds using English spelling are just that — attempts. They do bring the pronunciations much closer to the true pronunciations and for me, I simply appreciate that some people are interested enough to want to pronounce Irish names as correctly as they can. This is always better than the person who uses an Irish name and then totally mispronounces it — example: Caitín pronounced as Kate-lin which is so common here in the U.S.

  271. Hi Frank

    I totally apprciate that english speakers have difficulties in pronouncing words or names as they should be pronounced in their own languages. Forums like this one here are very useful in helping people understand how names or words should be pronounced correctly.I’m happy just to help people with understanding irish pronunciations as it is a complex language.

  272. I’m trying to find information about my son-in-law’s mother’s middle name (she’s deceased). It is spelled iowen and was pronounced Eye-ohn (which I’ve also seen spelled as Ione). She had told him it was Gaelic. He and my daughter want to know what it means, what it’s derived from…anything about it. I think they may be wanting to name a child after his mom. Is this name familiar to anyone?

  273. I’m not familiar with Iowen specifically, but it reminds me of Welsh male names like Owen, Owain and Iwan.

    If it’s based on Ione, that one comes from the Greek word ion meaning “violet” (the flower).

    It also reminds me of the literature name Eowyn, but that’s probably too recent/obscure to be an influence here.

    Anyone else have any guesses about Iowen?

  274. I believe I’ve seen it as a last name online in written as “iowen”, but I am also assuming it is like “ione” because that was how it was pronounced. I’ve seen online that “ione” is suggested to be Irish and means “From the King’s Island”, but there’s nothing to substantiate that. Then I wonder about the connection to Iona – as in, could there be a connection in the language or are the two totally different names?

  275. Hi. Don’t know if this has been described before so apologies if I’m repeating anything. The fada in the irish language is critical and changes the sound of the letter. The way I was taught it in school is this way:
    á = aw (as in paw),
    í = ee (as in tee),
    é = ay (as in hay),
    ó = o (as in the o in pole),
    ú = oooh (as in the double o in pool).

    This is fairly important and the presence of a fada changes a name’s sound. For example caitlín is pronounced as katleen, while cáitlín is kaw-th-leen.

    Bear in mind this is for Munster irish and as people have said it changes depending where you are in Ireland. Hope this helps anyone trying to make sense of our language and if anyone has any better descriptions for how to pronounce the fadas, I’d love to hear it. The way I learned was a good 20 years ago this stage.

    If I can help with any other pronunciations let me know.

  276. This is great.Please do update more. I deal with Irish people name in my work and what I had been pronouncing is all the above name mention is quite different here! :-)


  277. This is a great source of information! I have a question, about my own name actually. When I was born (in the U.S.), my parents wanted to give me the Gaelic girls’ name for “Irish” or “Ireland” (which they told me was Éireann). Sadly, they we’re convinced by others that it would be terrible to force their child to have to constantly spell it/correct people (very few people over here would know enough Gaelic to be able to pronounce correctly). So while my birth certificate says “Erin”, I’ve generally gone by Éireann. I get a lot of people pronouncing it like “Erin” (Eh-rin) or Aaron (Air-run). I’m hoping to legally change my name to the spelling that corresponds to the name my parents actually wished for me to be called…So, my questions are:
    1. Is “Éireann” actually the correct spelling for a girl’s name meaning “Irish”? (If not, what is?)
    2. Am I right in my pronunciation as “Air-inn”? If not, what is correct?
    3. Is Éireann ever used as a first name in Ireland?

    One last unrelated question- I once read an Irish name for a boy on a site like this which had a pronunciation of “ay” (I may be simplifying a bit, but it basically was the English pronunciation of the letter A). Any ideas on what name this was? For some reason I remember it as being “Aodgh” but I’m pretty sure I’m wrong…

    Thank you for any help!!

  278. The word Éireann means “of Ireland”. It is the genitive or possessive form of the word Éire – Ireland (pronounced Air-eh). I’ve never seen either Éire or Éireann as someone’s name. The use of Erin as a girl’s name developed in the US and more recently has been adopted by some in Ireland although it’s not that common there. You are correct in saying the correct pronunciation is Air-inn (or at least something very close to it).

    The name you refer to in the second portion of your posting is Aodh and is pronounced as as you stated. It is from the old Irish name Áed, which meant “fire”. This was a very popular name in early Ireland, being borne by numerous figures in Irish mythology and several high kings. It has been traditionally Anglicized as Hugh.

  279. Thank you, Frank. I guess I’m a trail-blazer as far as first names go! I appreciate the time you took to reply!

  280. My name is Mara, and I’ve heard that it’s origin was Hebrew, Arabic, Gaelic and so many others. Being as I am part Irish on my Momma’s side, what does it mean in Gaelic, if it even has roots there? I pronounce it as Mah-ruh (Ruh like Rum without the “m”). What would it’s equivalent be in Gaelic? Also I was almost a Siobhan C: I love the idea of that name, but I’ve had enough trouble getting people to pronounce “Mara” correctly. lol

  281. I volunteer for the monthly senior gatherings in our town, & one of the regulars is named Mayo. His wife & the others pronounce it just like the condiment, but is that the way it should be pronounced?

  282. Kristin – never heard of that one. Z isn’t typically a letter used in irish words unless it’s borrowed from another language but I may be wrong about that.

    Mara – haven’t heard yours before but if it was irish it would properly be pronounced exactly as it’s spelled. There would be no reason to pronounce the ending as a ruh sound . Again simply because I haven’t ever heard of it doesn’t mean it’s not one.

    Lissa – Yes it’s pronounced exactly like the condiment. It’s a County in Ireland.

  283. I’m reading the book Brooklyn by Colm Toibin, and I was wondering how do you pronounce the heroine’s name Eilis? Thanks

  284. I just found out an Irish ancestor of my son-in-law was Anoyna. It probably isn’t that complicated, but I’d like to know how to pronounce it correctly. Thanks

  285. In most of the other languages that use the common alphabet, the letters are pretty much pronounced the same. Why so different in the Irish and Scottish? That is why you see more Kiaras than Ciaras when they want the pronunciation. I guess I am wondering who decided how to spell the words/names and change so many of the sounds? It feels more like trying to learn Russian or Chinese than French or Spanish. Like Sean for Shawn, or Siobahn for Shavawn? Or how on earth does Caoilfhionn come out as Kee-lin? I am not trying to be facetious or insensitive…I have never found an explanation. I love studying names and language connections, but these totally baffle me. Thanks! :)

  286. @Rionaghac – Ah, now I see why I’ve been getting more traffic on this name lately. A baby named Rionaghac-Ann was the sole survivor of the Buncrana tragedy in the north of Ireland.

    Her name seems to be a variant of the Irish name Ríoghnach, derived from an Irish word meaning “queen.” Sources suggest that the “gh” is silent, but the “ch” is pronounced (like in loch).

    As far as Rionaghac goes, I’ve seen video footage of the funeral, and it sounds like Rionaghac’s mother is pronouncing the baby’s name either “ree-ah-nah” or “ray-nah.”

  287. @G. Howells – The pronunciation varies depending on the part of Ireland you’re in, but two pronunciations of Eilís are “EYE-leesh” and “AY-leesh.”

    (This name might be getting a boost soon thanks to the movie Brooklyn.)

  288. My grandmother’s mother was from Ireland (I’m American) and she was called Bridgett but he “real” name was Delia. I was told Bridgett is pretty the same thing as Delia or that it was the nickname for Delia. Can anyone shed light on this?

  289. @Jay – Bedelia is one of several pet forms of Bridget. Your grandmother might have been named the other way round for some reason — Delia (for Bedelia) as a baptismal name, Bridgett as an everyday name.

  290. Hi Nancy, and posting family :-)
    Could anyone please tell me how would “Sabhaoi” be pronounced?
    I was told it would be
    “Savvy/Sah-vee”. Is this correct?
    Thx :-)

  291. @M – I wonder if the broad bh in this case isn’t pronounced like a “w”? And some sources say that the letter group abha makes an “ow” sound, though this may depend on the dialect.

  292. Our daughter is Avelin, which is originally spelled Eibhlhin/Eibhlin. We wanted to spell it as it is pronounced, to make life easier for her. However it is constantly misprounced as Ah-v-ah-Lin, Ava-lin, A-vah-Lon and Eh-v-ah-Lin. If you listen to the online pronunciations of Eibhlin/Eibhlhin it is Ay-v-Lin or Ee-v-Lin, depending on which part of Ireland you are from. It is a beautiful name, meaning radiant. We didn’t create a new spelling, we found a village in Ireland for retreats called “Avelin”, spelled the same way we do and pronounced as we pronounce it, so we figured it would be easy for our fellow Americans to figure out….not so much :/

  293. Can anyone help with the name Cahira? I’ve heard it pronounced Ka-hee-ra, Ka-heer-ah, and Kagh-rah.

  294. This thread is great, and unbelievably has lasted for years!

    How do you pronounce “Catraoine”?

    My grandmothers were named “Marguerite” and “Dorothy”. What would the corresponding Irish names be? And how would they be pronounced?

    Finally, my name is “Kathleen”. Do I understand correctly that it should be pronounced cat-leen? Or is it catch-leen?

  295. I have a Róisín (Ro-sheen) & an Aedhán (Aid-in). Whilst Aedhán seems pretty straight forward, to me, he’s been called Eden & Aid-han. Róisín gets called Roy-sin or Ro-sin.

    I’ve noticed ‘bh’ makes a v sound, as in Maebh (Maeve) & ‘si or sí’ makes a shh sound (Siobhan being a good example of both). Any others that this is true for, or other prounounciations you’ve heard (other letter combos/sounds)?Saoirse (seer-sha) is great too

  296. You’re right about “bh” often making a v-sound. The combination “mh” is the same. When they don’t make a v-sound, it’s a w-sound. The pronunciation depends on the nearby vowels.

    Another interesting combination is “fh,” which is silent. Which is how we can get “orlah” out of Orfhlaith and “eerlah” out of Iarfhlaith.

  297. My name is ELIN [E’-lynn], a Celtic name, which is rarely pronounced correctly. The most common misspellings are: Erin, Eva, & Ellen. I hated my name in my younger years as a result, but grew to appreciate having a unique name in my teens. I still have to correct others on almost a daily basis, but I don’t mind. It’s a conversation starter and people remember me. I rarely have to use my surname with such an unusual first name.

    As for others mispronouncing Irish/Celtic/Gaelic names, the polite thing to do, and common courtesy dictates, that one should simply ASK how to pronounce it rather than butchering it with a guess. Asking does not make one “look like a donkey” as one user commented, butchering it does. ?

  298. In Donegal (Ireland) the name Róisín is pronounced Rosh-een and the name Oisín is pronounced Osh-een.

  299. Just thought of how to describe eoìfe, it’s not EE-FAH but something between ee ay and eh like a softer ee. It is fah at the end though not feh. Try and say ee fah in an Irish accent. Also the e sound at the start isn’t dragged out, it’s short.

    Another thing, Niamh (my name) is pronounced neeve and if you want to insist on nee-ah-v the ah is so short and you say it so fast that it might as well just be pronounced neeve.

    It might be hard for some people to visualise but just imagine Irish names being said in an Irish accent.

  300. being irish does not mean that you can speak gaellic. there are rules for gaellic that determine how a name is pronounced. example the sound of letter ‘s’ is determined by what vowels follow it. if you do not know this simple fact you will make mistakes. when ‘s’ is followed by ‘e’ or ‘i’, it is the ‘sh’ sound, BUT when it is followed by ‘a’ or ‘o’ is is the ‘s’ sound. hence you have sinead = sheenayed, and sean = shawn. then you have sorcha = sorka and sairid = sarid
    this is just one example. i see many mistakes here just from that one example.

  301. If that was me, pronouncing or mispronouncing Irish or any other foreign names and that includes some English, American or Canadian, please do not humiliate me in front of other people telling me it is the wrong name. I am hearing impaired and wouldn’t know how to pronounce them correctly. I have to hear others say the name to get an idea how it sounds like to me before I learn how to say it right. Or take me aside and tell me I was wrong and you pronounce it for correctly and I will practice til I get it right.

  302. I live in the U.S. and I am only thiiiis much Irish (picture thumb and forefinger almost touching!) but I love the sound of Irish names. However, after looking at traditional names and their spellings I ended up choosing names for my boys that kind of sound and look Irish but really aren’t. My older son is Caeden (KAY-den) which has become so popular here that it is almost never mangled during pronunciation and is now used for both girls and boys and there are at least 25 different spellings! Some sources say that it may have originated as a shortening of the Scottish and Gaelic surname Mac Cadáin. My younger son is Celton (KEL-tahn) which is not very popular and the few others we have met all spell it Kelton which I have read is an Old English surname. I chose to spell it with a ‘C’ for several reasons knowing that we would have to live with the consequence that his name is often pronounced SEL-tahn by those seeing it for the first time.

  303. I’m Canadian with a good amount of Irish heritage and family who have married Irish folk and returned across the pond. Anywho, my name Brigid is pronounced “Bri-jid” even though I know in proper Irish it would be pronounced “Breej”. But that’s actually how one of my nicknames is pronounced, though I spell it Brig.

    Another nickname I’ve always had is Bride-y / Bride-ee. What’s the proper way to spell this nickname? I’ve never actually known. I know Bridie is common, are Bride with a fada or Bridhe alternative spellings?

    Thanks in advance!

  304. A reader named Donal emailed me requesting that I remind everyone that the Irish name Donal is pronounced doe-nal, with a long O. It should not sound like “Donald.”

  305. How about Enya’s full Irish name, Eithne Pádraigín Ní Bhraonáin? I know that Eithne is pronounced as “Enya” and Bhraonáin as “vree-nine” (anglicised as “Brennan”). But how about Pádraigín? It was anglicised as “Patricia” but I’d like to know how it’s pronounced in Irish.

    Also, how about Pádraig? If I were to approximate it in English, it would be “Patrick”, but how is that pronounced correctly in Irish?

  306. Forget the last one I am half asleep it is spelled Luag not the way I first posted it. SO SORRY!!! I really need some sleep LOL Thanks!

  307. I could really use some help with the names and pronunciation of Gwenhwyfar (Welsh) and Findabhair (Irish). I have heard they mean the same thing. “White Spirit” “White Lady”. Is this so? How do you correctly pronounce Rhiannon? Is it a popular name? Also Aithne? How do you pronounce Aithne? I have read it is the femaile form of Aidan and means “Little Fire”. Eithne is a different name meaning “Kernal”. So do you pronounce it Ath-nee (so it sounds like Aidan or Ath-nee-a, like eth-nee-a? HELP!

  308. The name I think of when I see “Findabhair” is Fionnbharr, which is based on elements meaning “fair” and “head” — so, “fair hair.”

    I don’t know quite how a Welsh speaker would pronounce Gwenhwyfar, and there’s no consensus on where the second element of the name comes from, but the first element (gwen) means “fair, white.”

  309. Is Aithne pronounced ath-nee or ath-nee-ah. The confusion I think is some people think it is the female form of Aidan and others think it’s just another way of spelling Eithne. Sooooooo are they different names or the same name and how does one say Aithne? I have tried to find out for almost 20 years!

  310. Is Aithne pronounced ath-nee or ath-nee-ah. The confusion I think is some people think it is the female form of Aidan and others think it’s just another way of spelling Eithne. Sooooooo are they different names or the same name and how does one say Aithne? I have tried to find out for almost 20 years! Any thoughts at all?

  311. I work in education in the US. I have begun asking EVERYONE how to pronounce names. Please be patient with educators. We WANT to pronounce your child’s name correctly, but there are so many people with heritage from all over the world. If I’m saying your child’s name incorrectly, please correct me (nicely). I will most likely write it phonetically until I can pronounce it correctly. An example is Caitlyn. I know the correct Irish pronunciation is kawtch-lin. The thing is, when I see a class list, I have no idea the heritage of your child. I meet more kids whose name is pronounced kate-lyn.

  312. Eoin is NOT pronounced O-in, it is pronounced OWN. I know because my ex Irish boyfriend (from Ireland) had this name and he absolutely hated it when anyone called him ‘O-in’! :)

  313. I wonder if anyone would be able to help me with the pronunciation of these unusual names! I can’t seem to find any help anywhere else!


  314. Wondering how you pronounce Banbha?

    And also my name is like the Irish Ciara but obviously spelled different because my mom thought it would be easier to pronounce here in the states but it still gets mispronounced. Both my parents pronounce it differently but I guess they’re both a way of saying it correctly according to your pronouciation of Ciara? Just thought it was funny :)

  315. Banbha (f) BAN uh va Banba the name of an early goddess, and was also used as a name for Ireland

    I would pronounce your name “Kear (like hear)- uh” But I have heard it pronounce Kee-ahhr-ah

  316. Name Pronunciation Other Forms* Meaning
    Banbha (f) BAN uh va Banba the name of an early goddess, and was also used as a name for Ireland
    So the name you are inquiring about would be pronounced “Ban va”
    I would pronounce your name “Kear (like hear)- uh” But I have heard it pronounce Kee-ahhr-ah

    Apologies on the first post not having all info. Not sure what happened.

  317. Interesting to read this, I’m not Irish or have any Irish connection (that I am aware of), but I just feel it’s funny how some people don’t mind their names being mispronounced or changed sometimes. I’ve always hated when people said my name wrong, like Naardia (long aa sound) or Nawdia (especially here in South Africa).
    It’s pronounced Na (open ah sound) – di (short i sound like it/if/in) – ya (short ah sound). In Arabic it refers to a dewdrop.
    It’s important to remember parents give names (most often) with meaning, and of course everyone should be proud of their heritage, if one’s name reflects their heritage I think it is something to be proud of. As a parent if you really want to make it easier on your child, inform the school staff of the correct pronunciation, it will help your child to be confident in helping others to understand and appreciate their name. Humans make mistakes, and often accents do play a role in it, but laziness is definitely no excuse for getting a person’s name wrong. I’ve had plenty of friends from different backgrounds and struggled with a lot of names e.g. Xoliswa (African name pronounced XO-lees-wa where the X is a hard click made with the tongue).

  318. Céire pronounced care re hard growing up with this name but love it because theres not many with it but everyone just says ciara which is kirrah.

  319. I know someone from Ireland with two sons. One is Phaedra and the other is Iarlaith. Phaedra is easy enough but I have a hard time with Iarlaith. I think it’s something like eer-luh or air-luh

  320. I knew the name as soon as I read the phonic spelling!
    Do you remember a movie from the 80’s, Legend, with Tom Cruise, Tim Curry, and Mia Sara ?
    The fae in the movie was named Oona! I much prefer how you spell your daughter’s name though. The Gaelic look of it is quite nice.

    Legend (1985)
    Annabelle Lanyon: Oona

  321. An early post reminded me of a poor wee lass whose parents pronounced her name, Sian, as See-an. Clearly, mother had seen it written without hearing it spoken. The sadest thing though, there being plenty of Sians out here in Australia, the poor thing was always “un-correcting” people. My parents were happy enough to refer to me as Terry, avoiding the confusion of either the Scots, Turlach or Irish, Turlough. I guess it stuck!

  322. Why do you people assume everyone should know how to pronounce a name that is not even close to what they’re used to? Irish is very much NOT like English, people. A little patience and understanding go a long way.

  323. My name is Aisling and people have pronounced and spelt it many ways. it is pronounced Ash-ling, not Aysling, Ailing, Iceling…

  324. My name is German, Christa. I’ve been called Christine, Christina, Crystal, Crissa, and a gym teacher called me Christ for all 4 years of HS.
    But I’d never want any other name, It suits me perfectly and I’ve spent about 45 of my 50 years correcting people (or not) with a smile and a shoulder shrug.
    I love the Irish boys name Ceallian and Fheilimí as well as Norwegian Håkon and Kjetil. I was going to give my son a foreign middle name, but my spouse nixed that lol They wanted something they could remember and spell. I went with Erik, Erik the Red lol My son’s first name is Jayden, so I did get something interesting and at the time unusual.

  325. I’m buying a house in Ireland named Clocha Liath. Not sure how it is pronounced. The estate agent says Clo- cha li – ath.

    We are saying clock -a lee -a.

    Could an Irish speaker help please?

  326. Hi Charles,

    I’m not an Irish speaker, but these links should be helpful:

    • Clocha — to me it sounds like kluh-hah or kluh-huh, with the “ch” in the middle making a rather throaty sound
    • Liath — sounds like lee-ah or lee-uh
  327. Hello, I’m so happy to have found this page. I’m working on writing the plot for an RPG video game my husband is working on and we thought mythological Ireland would be a great setting. On naming the characters, there will likely not be recorded dialogue for the characters, but instead text boxes that open up above the characters. Neither will there be a glossary of pronunciation as this is a video game. We want players of the game to understand the pronunciation of the names by simply reading them. So I wanted to ask some Irish folk what is more important, the traditional spelling of the Irish names or the correct pronunciation? For example, we could name a character “Madb” or give them the name “Mave” to make sure players know the correct way to pronounce the name. Or should we stick to “Irish sounding” names?Thank you so very much!

  328. Interesting question, Jennifer!

    But I’d ask a counter question: Is it more important what Irish speakers think, or what your players think?

    If the players will be, say, children or young teens who would balk at the sight of “Madb,” go with the Anglicized spellings.

    If, on the other hand, they’re going to be older (or nerdier!) and want as much historical accuracy as possible, go for the Irish spellings.

    Do whatever you think your ideal player would prefer.

  329. What about Neve or Naifh. I don’t know how it’s spelled. And Siobhan. Is it Shivonne or Shibon?

  330. @Frances Granville – The name Niamh (sometimes spelled “Neve”) is pronounced NEEV or NEE-iv, and the name Siobhan is typically pronounced shih-VAWN.

  331. Hi, I loved your Irish baby names pronunciation list. As a native Irishman, one thing that struck me in reading the posts was how important the Fada is when deciding if a vowel is pronounced long or short. For example, Seán, the boys name, is pronounced Shawn, while Sean, is pronounced Shan and means Old in Gaelic. If people would take note of whether the vowel has a fada over it then it would help them in figuring out the pronunciation. Unfortunately, in the majority of the english speaking world, the fada is usually omitted when the name is spelled and so the name effectively loses its true meaning.
    Thank you again for an interesting read!

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