Gaelic is a Celtic language that includes the speech of ancient Ireland and the dialects that have developed from it, especially those usually known as Irish, Manx, and Scots Gaelic. Gaelic constitutes the Goidelic subbranch of Celtic.
A formal Gaelic name consists of a given name and a surname. Gaelic first names are comprised of linguistic elements from Goidelic, Latin, Norse, Anglo-Norman, and Scots. There are three different types of Goidelic names: descriptive names (usually nouns or adjectives), old compounds (names that were once fused together), and compounds.
It can often be difficult to tell if Gaelic first names are borrowed from Irish or Scottish Gaelic since the Gaelic people were most commonly from Ireland, the Scottish Highlands, and the Isle of Man. Gaelic names often have unique pronunciations and strong mythical backgrounds and heritages.
Gaelic and Celtic are two terms that get tossed around interchangeably, and it’s understandable as they are related. However, before we delve into our list of Gaelic names, let’s examine what the two terms mean.
The Celts or Celtics refers to a group of people who lived in Western Europe and originated in what is now Poland, Germany, The Czech Republic, and Austria.
They were driven east by the Germanic tribes that took over and headed towards modern-day England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Gaelic refers to the languages are dialects Celtic people spoke. Some Gaelic languages are Welsh, Breton, Cornish, Irish, and Scottish.
So put simply, Gaelic refers to the languages, and Celtic refers to the people or culture. Therefore Celtic names tend also to be Celtic names. In Western and American culture, Gaelic and Celtic-inspired names have become trendy; my boys have Gaelic names, one Scottish and one Irish. Liam, a name I considered for my son, has been on the Social Security list of most popular boy names for over a decade; it currently ranks #2.
If you love the sound of a Gaelic name, have Celtic ancestry, or simply want something unique and trendy, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular, beautiful, and fun Gaelic names out there!
Gaelic Irish Boy Names and Meanings
- Aodhan - Little fire.
- Barry - Fair-headed.
- Brian - A name linked to Ireland’s history and the Great Irish King Brian Boru, who ended the Viking rule in Ireland in the 10th century
- Cathal - Strong in battle.
- Cian - Incident. Pronounced “keen.” A derivative of Cianan.
- Ciaran - Little dark one.
- Cillian - Little church.
- Connor/Conor - Irish. Lover of hounds.
- Colm - This name has Latin roots and means Dove.
- Cormac - Irish. Destroying son.
- Daithi - This unique baby boy name means swift.
- Eoghan - Born into nobility. Youth.
- Eoin - God is gracious. The Irish version of the English name John.
- Finnegan - Fair, white, or pale. Small blond soldier or wanderer.
- Kevin - Gentle, kind, or handsome.
- Liam - Strong-willed or protector.
- Lorcan - Silent or fierce.
- Niall - Cloud.
- Oisin - Little deer.
- Padraig - From the noble class, nobly born. The Irish form of Patrick is more commonly used in the U.S.
- Ronan - Little Seal
- Sean- God is gracious.
- Seamus - This name has Hebrew and Latin roots and is the Irish equivalent of James. It means he who supplants.
- Tadhg - Poet or philosopher. Pronounced Teague.
Gaelic Irish Girl Names and Meanings
- Aine - Irish. Gracious merciful.
- Aisling - This name is derived from the Irish Gaelic word for dream or vision.
- Aoife - Beauty. A common name in Irish legends and mythology.
- Beryan - An Irish princess famous for her ability to heal.
- Bridget - Of high status, powerful, virtuous.
- Brianna - One who is noble or honorable. The feminized form of Brianna.
- Caitlin - This pretty name means purity and has a variety of spellings: Kaitlin, Katelyn, Caetlin, Caitlyn, and more!
- Caoimhe - This is a popular name for girls in Ireland; pronounced kee-va, this name means noble or dear.
- Ciara- Dark, not possessing a fair or pale complexion.
- Deidre - A famous character from Irish mythology who meets a tragic end by throwing herself in front of the king’s chariot rather than marrying the man who killed her lover.
- Erin - This name means Child of Ireland. It is derived from the goddess Eire who gave her name to Ireland.
- Eithne - Kernel or grain.
- Fiona - Fair, white, or transparent. An alternative version is Fionn.
- Grainne - Grain.
- Isolde - Fair one. Ice queen.
- Keira - Irish. Dark-haired.
- Maeve - Old Irish, She who rules.
- Niamh - Pronounced NEEVE, this traditional Irish name has deep roots. It means radiance and brilliance. Niamh was the lover of Oisin, a fierce warrior, and they eloped to Ulster. In one version, they are happily among the fairies for 300 hundred years; in another, her father comes with an army, and she meets a tragic end.
- Saoirse - Liberty or freedom. This name became popular in the 1920s after the Irish Revolution in 1917 and has strong patriotic overtones.
- Siobhan - God is gracious.
- Una - Irish. Famine or hunger.
Gaelic Scottish Boy Names and Meanings
Andrew - A name with Greek origins meaning brave man. St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland.
Aodh - A true Gaelic name, it is used in both Scottish and Irish languages. It means fire.
Bruce - This name has Norman French and English roots and means from the brushwood or thicket. It was a common Scottish surname for nobles. The first Scottish King was Robert the Bruce.
Calum - A derivative of Malcolm, it means dove. Another version of the name is Colm.
Donal - Used in Scottish and Irish, it means world mighty or world rule.
Duncan - A name with Gaelic origins, it means dark warrior.
Ewan - By the yew tree, born of the yew tree, or youth, also spelled Euan.
Ian - A Scottish name with Hebrew origins meaning God is gracious.
Graham - Scottish. Gravelly homestead.
Gaelic Scottish Girl Names and Meanings
- Ann - A Hebrew name meaning graceful.
- Elspeth - Scottish form of Elizabeth. God is my oath.
- Jean - A French name that was quite popular in Scotland for centuries meaning God is gracious.
- Isla - This Gaelic name means isle or island.
- Margaret - A greek name meaning pearl.
- Morag - The Scottish version of Srah. It means princess.
Welsh Boy Names and Meanings
- Aberforth - Harry Potter fans will be familiar with this name as Albus Dumbledore’s brother; it means from the river.
- Aeronwy - The battle winner.
- Beynon - Sone of Eyon.
- Bowen - Son of Owen.
- Cadog - To be in battle or to fight.
- Davy - A cherished individual.
- Dylan - Great tide or son of the sea.
- Gavyn - White falcon.
- Gwayn - Hawk. A variation of Gavin.
- Haydn - Fire.
- Kai - Keeper of the keys. This name is also common in Hawaiian and means sea or ocean.
- Lewellyn - Leader.
- Llyr - A mythical character from Welsh mythology, a king of the sea.
- Merlin - Sea fortress. The name of the great Wizard of Arthurian legend.
- Owen - Noble born or young fighter.
Welsh Girl Names and Meanings
- Addien - Pleasant or beautiful girl.
- Arwen - Noble maiden.
- Braith - Freckled.
- Breckyn - Have a spotted or freckled face.
- Caide - She who is pure. Innocent.
- Ceridwen - A fair woman.
- Eiriol - Snowy.
- Eirwyn - One who is white as snow.
- Gennifer - One who is fair and good-looking.
- Glynis - One who comes from the valley.
- Gwendolyn - White-browed person.
- Mawd - The Welsh version of the German name Maude. It means powerful battler.
- Morgaine - Radiant sea, from the sea. Morgan Le Fay is the powerful enchantress from Arthurian legend.
Image: Dunadd, an ancient sacred site of the Gaels, West of Scotland
Gaelic Unisex Names
- Aidan - Irish. Little and fiery. The perfect name for a baby with red hair.
- Afon - Welsh. River or stream.
- Blair - Scottish. Field or plain. A battlefield.
- Blevine. Welsh. A child like a wolf cub.
- Brynn - Welsh. A man from the hill. The traditional feminine spelling is Brin.
- Darragh - Irish. More commonly used as a boy’s name but it is also sometimes used for girls, this Irish baby name means oak tree, fruitful, or fertile.
- Dillion - Irish. Faithful.
- Finn - Irish. Fair.
- Greer - Scottish. Watchful or vigilant.
- Gwynedd - Welsh. Blessed, white, or fair.
- Innis - Scottish. A Gaelic name meaning island.
- Kieve - Irish/Welsh. Mythical.
- Lyall - A Norse-inspired name that means
- Rory - Irish. Red or fiery.
- Ryan - Irish. This name means little king. Traditionally, a boy’s name is now used for girls and boys.
- Rylie - Irish. An Old Irish name that means descendant of Roghallach
- Shane - Irish. Grace of God.
- Shea - Irish. This unique moniker means hawk.
Most Popular Gaelic Names on FamilyEducation: Gall, Kerr, Callan, Logan