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Baby names

16th May 2024

Ten of the most difficult Irish baby names to pronounce

Niamh Ryan

Irish baby names

I’ve always loved having an Irish name, but I do sometimes wish it was easier to pronounce.

There’s nothing more humbling than having a group of American tourists come into your work and ask “is that the Wi-Fi password on your name badge?” because Niamh “doesn’t look like it could be a name.”

However, having a unique name can only be a good thing, and there’s plenty of Irish names to choose from.

In no particular order, here are some of the more difficult ones to pronounce, to keep people guessing.

1. Caoilfhionn (kee – lin)

This one tends to trip people up, but it’s the original spelling of Keelin, and is a beautiful name for a baby girl.

Caoilfhionn means “slender and fair,” and people typically associate this meaning with slender tree branches.

2. Ailbhe (al – va)

Another gorgeous name for a girl, Ailbhe means “noble and bright.”

The ‘bh’ sound can be difficult for non-Irish people to grasp, but the meaning alone is enough of a reason to choose this name.

3. Diarmuid (deer – mid)

This is a classic name for a boy that’s not too overdone.

You’ve probably heard of the anglicised version Dermott, but the Irish spelling is truly special and not too difficult for people to wrap their heads around.

4. Aodhan (ay – dawn)

If you want something a bit more unique than just Aiden, this is a great one for your baby boy.

Aodhan dates back to the 6th century, and means ‘little fire’.

5. Bláthnaid (blaw – nid)

This nature name is another that leaves people slightly baffled, but that’s a small price to pay for a unique name.

Is there anything sweeter than naming your daughter ‘flower’?

6. Turlough (tur – lock)

As someone that’s usually good with names and spellings, I’ll admit that this name catches me out every time.

Turlough comes from the Middle Ages, and is the name of two kings from Old Ireland. What’s more noble than that?

7. Croía (cree – a)

A personal favourite on this list, Croía means ‘little heart’, and has been steadily gaining popularity.

In 2022 it was the 38th most popular name for baby girls in Ireland.

8. Cillian (kill – ee – in)

We all saw a lot of Cillian Murphy on our screens this past award season, which led to many British and American fans admitting they’d been pronouncing his name as Sillian this whole time!

Cillian means ‘bright headed’ but has other connotations with ‘church’ and ‘war.’

9. Padhraic (poor – ick)

One of the many variations of Patrick, this is a great name for a baby boy.

Sometimes the best names have silent letters, it just adds to the mystery!

10. Síofra (she – fra)

Last but certainly not least, this adorable girl’s name means ‘elf.’

In Irish folklore, Síofra was a fairy goddess, and in some stories she was the princess of love.

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