How Do You Pronounce Aoife? Guide To Pronunciations of Popular Irish Names


One of the great conundrums in life is how to pronounce Irish names. I went to a Catholic secondary school, and there was a clear, disproportionate number of students with distinctly Irish names, the type that make most non-natives quiver. I’m thinking Oisín, and even Róisín – both of which are names I know of people who bear them.

Since it seems a common problem, given what I read when the topic of Irish names come up, it seems worthwhile to provide a list of all the names in the Northern Ireland Top 100 which may pose pronunciations problems, and if you really don’t think you can carry the original form of,  I’ve also given any applicable English forms of the name.

Áine (#65) – awn-ye

means radiance in Gaelic.

sometimes taken as the Irish version of Anne, although this is not strictly true.

Aoibheann (#82) – ee-van

means beautiful sheen in Gaelic.

variants: Eavan (English), Aoibhín (Irish)

Aoife (#11), ee-fa

means beauty in Gaelic.

some take Eva as the English form of this name, again, not strictly true.

Caitlín (#28) – kaht-leen

Irish form of Catherine.

also pronounced (mostly by English-speakers) kayt-lin.

I have a Great Auntie Caitlín who pronounces her name kaht-leen.

Caoimhe (#35) –  kee-va

means beautiful, gentle, kind in Gaelic

variants: Keavy (Irish, think B*witched) and Keeva (English)

Ciara (#57) – keer-ah

means black.

variants include Kiara, Kira, Keira and Kiera

Clodagh (#44) – clo-da

name of a river in Tipperary.

Eimear (#49) – ee-mur

possible means swift.

Irish variant are Emer and Éimhear.

some take Emma to be the English equivalent of this name.

Meabh (#73) – mayv

variant of Medb, which is the original Irish form of Maeve.

means intoxicating.

Niamh (#22) – neev

means bright in Irish.

Orlaith (#77) – or-la

variant of Órfhlaith, which means golden princess.

A few other female names I want to mention, given that I know several people with the name:

Ailbhe – al-va

possibly means white.

The name Elva is the English form of this name.

Aisling – ash-ling

means dream, vision

The name Ashlyn is often taken as the English form of this name.

Bronagh -bro-nah

means sorrow.

Catriona – ka-tree-na

another Gaelic form of Catherine.

English form: Katrina.

Róisín – rosh-een

derives from Róis, which is the Irish form of Rose.

Siobhan – shi-vawn

Irish form of Jeanne.

Sinéad – shi-nayd

Irish form of Jeanette.

Then we have the boys:

Aodhán (#80) – ay-awn OR ay-dawn

means fire.

English form is Aiden.

Caolan (#55) – kay-lin OR kee-lin

means slender

Ciaran (#74) – keer-awn

means black.

English form is Kieran.

Cillian (#62) – kill-ee-an

means church

Dáithí (#91) – dah-hee

means swift

sometimes used as the Irish form of David.

Darragh (#37) – dare-ah OR dar-rah.

means oak tree

can also be spelled Dara or Daragh.

Eoghan (#87) – o-in

possibly means born from the yew tree, but may have derived from Eugene, which means well born.

English form is Owen.

Eoin (#34) – o-in

Gaelic form of John.

Fionn (#80) – finn

means fair, white.

English form is Finn.

Niall (#95) – nie-al

Original Gaelic form of Neil, which possibly means champion or cloud.

Odhrán (#40) – o-rawn

means little pale green one.

English form is Orrin.

Oisín (#23) – osh-een

means little deer.

Pádraig (#100) – paw-drig

Irish form of the name Patrick

means nobleman

Ruairí (#66) – rawr-ree

variant of Ruaidhrí

means red king

English variant is Rory.

Shea (#33) – shay

variant of Séaghdha

means admirable or hawk-like.

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