15 Fresh Celtic Girls' Names

Nov 17th 2015

 baby name roundups by theme

With a dash of Ainsley, Kennedy, and Brynn, and a splash of Finley and Isla, this country's top names for girls are heavily peppered with Celtic choices as the perfect counterpart to Liam and Aidan. The wealth of names that herald from Celtic nations (Scotland, Ireland, and Wales) offer a very broad variety beyond what we're used to seeing in the top ranks of today's names. That's why we're exploring the unexpected with these refreshing Celtic girls' names that could be tomorrow's trends.

  1. Madigan: It's two letters away from the contemporary star Madison, making this rare Irish surname a sweet little secret for those in search of an alternative. Madigan also allows for the nickname Maddie, giving girls with this name the option to fit in or stand out a little bit from the crowd.

  2. Ailsa: Distinctively Scottish and full of charm, Ailsa has its roots in Scotland's Ailsa Craig, a rocky island inhabited today only by birds. Puffins and gannets aside, this sweetly gaelic name is unicorn twins with Frozen's Elsa, but it hasn't received any of the sort of attention a Disney princess can garner. Last year there were only 11 baby girls given this name.

  3. Carys: Some parents are beginning to rediscover this Welsh standout meaning love, but it's far from the top 1,000. Carys sounds like a sweet alternative to Paris, and with its charming meaning we think this name should be getting a bit more love. Last year, 113 girls were given this name, and it was chosen by Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas for their daughter in 2003.

  4. Bevin: Actress Bevin Prince brought more awareness to her name while playing the character Bevin Mirskey on One Tree Hill. And yet, this intriguing Irish name is collecting dust in the US while the English form Vivian rides a wave of popularity all the way to the top 100.

  5. Rhian: This modern Welsh name isn't too far from today's hits like Mia or Regan, but it's much more unique. It has an on-trend sound with an uncomplicated cadence that makes it a breath of fresh air, all supported by its modern Welsh heritage.

  6. Teagan: Coming from the Irish gaelic male name Teague, this name transformed into a fashionable choice for girls. It's been near the 250 mark for about six years, proving that Teagan is has a charming image and some reliable staying power.

  7. Carrigan: Two things happened in the ‘90s that put this Irish surname in the spotlight—Nancy Kerrigan was the face of figure skating in two Olympics, and a character from the movie Casper helped some parents envision it for their daughter. Today, this name is still a unique choice that allows for the darling nickname Carrie (though some still see Carrie as a child of the ‘80s).

  8. Keeva: Heralding from the Irish gaelic name Caoimhe, this name means “lovely, grace” and is a definite head-turner. While not in the top 1,000 names, it seems there are more baby girls named Keeva born each year. It's a rare Celtic gem with an energetic personality.

  9. Tierney: This loveable Irish gaelic choice is, sadly, not on most parents' radar. But that makes it an undiscovered gem that will meet with a bit of surprise as well as approval. The late actress Gene Tierney adds some timeless Hollywood glamor to the name as well.

  10. Enya: Ethereal singer Enya, born with the original Gaelic spelling, Eithne, made the anglicized version of her name accessible to Americans. It's still a rare choice in the US, but with similar names Arya and Ayla in the 200s, we say Enya is pleasantly on-trend.

  11. Tamsin: This cheerful English form of Thomas comes to us via Cornwall, a Celtic nation that championed the name for centuries. The name is very rare here in the US, but it has an easy charm that makes us want to steal this name from across the pond.

  12. Mirren: The fact that Mirren is a top-100 choice in Scotland stands in stark contrast to the mere seven American girls who were given this name in 2014. While Mirren may cause a few (hopefully delighted) raised eyebrows in this country, it's a Scottish form of Marian with an easy appeal that capitalizes on the -en endings we're loving lately. The actress Dame Helen Mirren's last name was anglicized from Mironoff, but she gives this name both elegance and familiarity.

  13. Emlyn: It may look a bit made up, but Emlyn is actually a traditional Welsh name used for boys. Here in the US, it has loads of potential to sit alongside feminine choices like Kaitlyn, Evelyn, and Emmalyn. But Emlyn will catch most by surprise, as it's rather rare in this country.

  14. Wynne: This simple, one-syllable name is elegant and charming, and has potential for the sweetly old-fashioned nickname Winnie or Wynnie without the frills of Winifred. It's a Welsh name, also spelled Wyn, that's been around for an extremely long time.

  15. Maisie: A reliable top-100 choice across the UK, this Scottish pet name derived from Mairead and Margaret leaped onto the US charts last year at a rank of 658. We can see why—it has a sweet, Victorian feel that easily rivals its more contemporary sound-alike, Macy. The young Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams likely has a lot to do with this country's newfound interest, boosted along by characters in the bestselling novel series Maisie Dobbs and the CW's Arrow.

Love these names? You are bound to love names from our recent article Romance! Adventure! Surprising, Overlooked Celtic Baby Names.


November 21, 2015 8:19 PM

I have a Rhian born in 2011. Younger sister of a girl Rory.

December 1, 2015 8:50 PM

I'm from a welsh/Scottish family and let me add:  Iona, Imogen, Bronwyn, Aislyn, Eiwyn.  My grandmother was Araminta. 

They seem to love a 'yn' ending.

December 8, 2015 2:43 PM

In 1991, if my son had been a girl, I planned to name him Tierney. Everyone thought it was a terrible choice, and sounded like "tyranny." I feel validated now.  :)

December 8, 2015 3:14 PM

We have a Carys that was born in 2009, and the meaning "love" fits her perfectly!

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Due to health reasons, doctors told me that I would never have children.  There was nothing that I wanted more.

In 1978, my miracle baby, Myfanwy, was born.  She was named for my Great-Aunt Myf, who had died a few months before my Myf was born.  

Not having access to a computer back then and Myfanwy not being in any "name your baby" books, I asked the local library to research it for me.  When my Myfanwy was three months old, the answer came in the mail.  It means "a rare child."  That she is! 

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