Gaelic-American Names without C/K as the first letters

Our last name is three syllables starting with Mac. The cousins have taken many of the obvious names!


What would fit right in without sounding too similar? I'd like to avoid all the C and K names as they're already so prominent.


August 13, 2016 8:50 PM

Fergus, Donald, Neil, Owen, Shane, Teige, Tirlach, Hugh/Hugo; Dorren, Margery, Egidia, Susanna. These have all been used at some point to render an Irishman's or Irishwoman's name in English contexts.

August 13, 2016 9:00 PM

Thanks! I like the sound of Owen but not the spelling, and the same is true for Eoghan, while Ewen looks a little too feminine and lamb-like. I thought I remembered meeting a man named Eowan, but I can't find anything like that now.

August 13, 2016 9:08 PM

Owain and Yvain are other spellings, although the sound would be somewhat different.

August 13, 2016 8:57 PM

for a boy Rhys 

for a girl Brenna

August 13, 2016 9:07 PM

Boys: Laughlin (and other spellings), Lorcan, Eamon, Sean, Seamus, Ryan, Angus, Fergus, Finn, Barry, Brendan, Dermot, Desmond, Domnall/Donal, Dougal, Doyle, Donovan, Duane, Finbar, Fintan, Liam, Malachy, Niall/Neal, Nolan, Orrin, Owen, Ronan, Rory, Rowan, Tiernan, Tighe, Bruce, Boyd, Duncan, Douglas, Ewan, Ian, Gavin, Fraser, Glenn, Gordon, Graeme/Graham, Hamish, Hendry, Lennon, Lennox, Malcolm, Murray, Monroe, Tavish


Girls: Aisling, Aoife, Niamh, Maeve, Bridget, Tara, Bree, Siobhan, Sinead, Deirdre. Eileen, Eilis, Enya. Emer, Fiona, Grainne, Mairead, Maureen/Maura/Moira, Nessa, Noreen, Oona, Orla, Sorcha, Elspeth, Isla, Lilias, Maisie

February 19, 2017 3:48 PM

Thank you!

I love E@mon. I'm not sure we could pull it off, but it's definitely going on the list! I also like Siobhan but had it nixed for the "confusing" spelling.

Brendan, Donovan, Douglas, Ian, Maeve, Brigid, and Moira are also going on!

August 13, 2016 10:38 PM

Congrats! Below are some names that I believe are Gaelic, hopefully it helps

Girls: Anya, Ailey,  Aoife,  Brenna, Bridget/ Brigid, Dana, Darcy, Delaney, Devin, Elva,  Eileen, Fallon, Fina, Fiona, Henley, Imogen, Isolde, Lila, Maeve, Maura, Mona, Oona, Peyton, Rory, Shayla, Sheila, Sorcha, Shea, Tierney, Vanessa

Boys: Angus, Bran, Brady, Donavan, Darby, Eamon, Evan, Ewan. Finn, Griffin, Liam, Murphy, Neil, Nolan, Quinn, Ronan, Ross, Rylan, Rowan, Shane, 

August 13, 2016 11:09 PM

Vanessa was made up by Jonathan Swift who concocted it by rearranging the letters in a friend's name. Nessa, however, is a Gaelic name though, and it's also an unrelated Hebrew name. Isolde was an Irish princess in the legend, but the origin of the name is unknown--might be Germanic or maybe not.  Evan and Griffin are Welsh.  Peyton and Rylan are English.  Lila is ultimately from the Arabic word for night.  Dana is one of those names that have multiple origins in different languages, but none of them is to my knowledge Gaelic.  Mona also has multiple origins in different languages, but in that case one is Gaelic.  Darcy is Norman French.

If for family or other reasons a Gaelic name is particularly wanted, then these won't fill the bill, but otherwise they are fine.  Personally I didn't consider language of origin when I chose my son's name.  He was given my father's name, but it was nice lagniappe that his name is Anglo-Saxon, my field of study, and was also the name of my major professor for whom I had the utmost respect and fondness, win-win-win.

August 13, 2016 11:51 PM

Thank you!

Rowan is possible in theory but I can't seem to make it work.

Aine (a more traditional spelling of Anya), Brigid, Maeve, Moira, Donovan, and Eamon are definitely right up our alley. Truth be told, as much as I like Donovan, I can't help but think it is the dark one, and the odds of this baby having dark hair or eyes or skin are low. We don't have to have a Gaelic name, but it would be nice if it would line up that way. The name being meaningful is more important, though.

The extra info is very appreciated! I've only heard one other person use lagniappe so that was a nice little... lagniappe. :)

August 14, 2016 12:33 AM

Since I lived in New Orleans for twenty-five years, for me lagniappe is an ordinary common word.

I agree with you about wanting names to be meaningful.  But I wouldn't conflate meaningful with meaning.  Name "meanings" are a real minefield.  Strictly speaking names have origins and derivations, but not "meanings," not even metaphorical "meanings."  Jonah, for example, comes from a root for dove, but little Jonah is not a bird and in all likelihood is not even particularly peaceful (or a bad luck omen on shipboard).  In any case, most of the readily available information on name "meanings" is just wrong and should be discounted.  I would interpret meaningful in this case as a name that has an association with something of importance to mom and dad--the name of a beloved family member or one that recalls family heritage or a favorite place or the name of a personal hero or something connected to an area of interest or even the child's birthstone or the flower of the birth month--or purely the most beautiful sound ever.

IMO parents should be able to answer their kids' questions about how their names were chosen with a positive narrative that reflects the parents' love and concern for their child's wellbeing.  Not "I couldn't think of anything else" or "Your name is Chevy because you were conceived in the back seat of one."

August 14, 2016 4:52 AM

I once encountered Lagniappe as a middle name on a third child who was presumably a happy surprise!

August 14, 2016 9:41 AM

I love Eamon!! May I suggest Delainey? I know a little girl named Aileen, pronounced AY-leen. I think it's lovely!

August 14, 2016 12:47 PM

Eoin is pronounced the same as Owen, but I'm not sure if it's a Gaelic spelling.

August 14, 2016 6:16 PM

It is! Eoin is the oldest Gaelic spelling, in both Irish and Scottish Gaelic, of the name John!

August 14, 2016 9:03 PM

Do you think E@mon Ambros℮ is too much?

August 14, 2016 9:38 PM

Nope! Although they look long, each is only two syllables, which is a perfectly reasonable length and combination.

August 14, 2016 9:47 PM

Thanks! My concern is the alliterarion of E@m.. Am... M@c... and if it is just different enough to sound off.

August 14, 2016 10:00 PM

If I'm saying it correctly, it'a AYM- AM- Mac, right? All three together sound different enough to me.

Honestly, my only question is whether Aymon Mac- is a difficult transition to make, since the middle name wouldn't be used in daily life. I think it's a little bit of a challenge, but not enough to be a dealbreaker.

August 14, 2016 10:11 PM

Yes, Aim... Am... Mac... sounding.

The As and the Ms both repeat through all three.

August 14, 2016 10:41 PM

One person's overly-repeated sound is another person's pleasant symmetry and rhythm. I think you have to decide if it's too much for YOU.

I was always dead-set against alliteration and then ended up softening my stance to the point of actually giving my daughter a name that starts with a hard C to go with her K surname. Since the "A"s don't sound the same in the first and surnames, I'm not bothered by it. I actually find the rhythm of Aymon Amb- to be highly pleasing. I use my daughter's first-middle combo on a daily basis -- not when she's in trouble, just when calling her -- so to me, that flow is important, too.

August 15, 2016 12:35 AM

There's the Welsh (not Gaelic, but Celtic) form of Ambrose which is Emrys,  Perhaps Eamon Emrys, the initials the same, but the sounds different....

August 15, 2016 12:57 AM

I love the name Emrys! Hey, the initials worked for Mr. Cummings :)

August 15, 2016 9:30 AM

And for Edward Everett Horton the actor and Edward Everett Hale, the nineteenth century author.

Eamon Emrys doesn't twist my tongue, but perhaps others have twistier tongues than mine.

August 15, 2016 1:26 AM

Emrys is cute, but Eamon Emrys is a tongue-twister--much more so than Eamon Ambrose.

August 16, 2016 9:22 PM

I think Emrys is beautiful! But I also think it sounds quite feminine. So that rules it out completely, not having a history of being used as a female name.

I think E@mon Emrys has the two Es just slightly off from each other enough to make it hard to say when read, too.

I'm going to find someone else having a boy to encourage them to use Emrys! Thank you for introducing me to it! :)

August 17, 2016 2:38 PM

How about we just keep Emrys a secret now, shall we? ;) It's one of my favorite names, and I would love to use it for a son someday.

That said, I find Eam0n Emrys quite tongue-twisty, whereas Eam0n Ambrose I have no trouble saying aloud or reading. I really like Eam0n Ambr0se MacName!

August 19, 2016 11:11 PM


Ha! I'll keep it on the downlow for you. ;)


August 15, 2016 1:25 AM

Nope!  I really like Eamon Ambrose MacWhatever.  Great name.

August 15, 2016 10:08 AM

My daughter just recently returned from summer camp; she had an Irish-American cabin-mate named Ailís (pronounced I-lish—Behind the Name tells me this is a form of Alice, sometimes Anglicized as Ailish), and an Irish-Irish cabin leader (camp counselor) named Gráinne (the name of a grain goddess, and apparently also associated with the Irish word for love; pronounced/Anglicized Granya or Grania). I think both are very pretty, and they apparently were well-received in the tween-aged camp set.

August 17, 2016 2:45 PM

I've heard Ailís pronounced AY-leesh, too. I like both Ailís and Gráinne, and find it interesting that both names were well-liked by the campers... does this maybe give us a peek into future name trends?

August 17, 2016 5:23 PM

I have no idea what's going to happen when the current crop of kids, raised in a very diverse naming environment, start naming their own kids. When I asked my daughter for name suggestions a year ago, she said something along the lines of "I don't know, all my friends have normal names, like Sage and Kayla and Sophia and Aurora. Nobody has anything cool, like Nicole."

My kids have hardly ever been phased by any name...EXCEPT...  Over the weekend they watched the first Mission: Impossible movie, and also heard the song Star Trekkin'. There's a character in the movie named Jim, and my daughter wanted to know if the line in the song ("It's life, Jim, but not as we know it") was the same Jim. I told her "No, it's about Captain James T. Kirk, of the Starship Enterprise." She kept asking me to repeat it, and couldn't understand me. Our conversation then went something like this:  

  • Me: The song is about JIM KIRK, from Star Trek.
  • Daughter: But I thought you said his name was James?
  • Me: Yes, James Tiberius Kirk.
  • Daughter: But I'm talking about JIM.
  • Me: Yes, Jim Kirk.
  • Daughter: But you just said James!
  • Me: Jim is a nickname for James.
  • Daughter: That makes no sense. Those are totally different names.
  • Me: It's a traditional nickname. Like how Ted can be a nickname for Theodore.
  • Daughter: That's not a thing.
  • Me: Yes it is. You know, like Bill for William or Kit for Christopher.
  • Me: Or kind of like Liam is also a nickname for William.
  • Daughter: Well, that makes sense. Those other ones are not a thing.

My ten-year-old is obsessed with the name Bob, and when we got a cat a few years ago the two top contenders for male cat name were Joey and Phil. Make of all that what you will. I suspect some day I'll just have to keep repeating to myself "You had your turn; you'll grow to love it" ;-).

August 17, 2016 10:53 PM

That is hilarious! And boy can I ever relate. Just yesterday my daughter told me that her favorite names were Tiffany, Crystal, and Amber.

August 18, 2016 8:03 PM

Laughing at both of these super hard! My eldest loves Susie.

August 17, 2016 11:44 PM

This conversation is priceless.

August 18, 2016 3:47 PM

Oh, this is priceless!! Thanks for the laugh!

I wonder what she would think of Jack as a nickname for John, Peggy and Midge for Margaret, or Polly for Mary! And does the ten-year-old know that Bob is really Robert?

I would have thought Nicole, Tiffany, Crystal, and Amber were all firmly in "mom name" territory for today's preteens! Are dated 80's names going to come back!? Oh, I hope not...

Here's another story to add into the mix.
My best friend is expecting, and I happened to be with my nine-year-old cousin when she sent me her first ultrasound picture. After I showed her the picture, my cousin asked if they'd named the baby yet, and I told her they haven't because they don't know if it's a boy or girl. Just for fun, I asked her if she had any ideas for names she wanted me to tell them. Her suggestions for girls were Emma, Elora, and Pumpkin. She has never seen Willow, so I'm not sure if she just "made up" Elora or has heard it somewhere else. And Pumpkin? The only explanation I can think of is that with the diversity of names among her friends, siblings, cousins, etc., she must think anything can be a name. When I asked her about names for a boy, all she could come up with was Max.

I passed along her ideas to my friend, of course, not that any of them are names she would choose. We have since taken to calling the baby Pumpkin as a nickname until they find out the gender and decide on a name. :)

August 19, 2016 11:14 PM

Could she have picked it up from Honey Boo Boo where one of the daughters is called Pumpkin? Just a pop reference that came to mind as a possibility.

Emma and Elora are lovely choices!

August 21, 2016 6:08 PM

Knowing some of what she is and isn't allowed to watch, I highly doubt she's had any exposure to Honey Boo Boo or other reality TV. She does know several kids and a couple adults with word names, though. Most are the typical Heather, Rose, Grace, etc., but there are some unusual ones among her friends and acquaintances, too.

Emma and Elora are lovely. They just don't match my friend's preferences at all! :)

August 23, 2016 1:01 AM

Isn't that always the problem!

It's the perfect name... for someone else. LOL

August 17, 2016 12:50 AM

I've hit a lttle snag with Eamon.

Go to Google/Youtube and search the name and 95% of the hits are vulgar. There's a musician by that name who likes to use profanities and vulgar slang terms for anatomy in his song titles who gets over 75% of the hits. There's a funny but rather irreverent and crass comedy show that gets another 15%. There's a drunken sports commentor and some similar not shing examples of humanity.

To wade through them enough, I searched Eamon minus the F word and the top phallic slang term, whch reduced the musician to under 50% of hits, with a wider number of people like soccer players, skateboarders, piano players, etc showing up.

My husband saw the search and asked if those words were really that strongly associated with the name I had to exclude them. I tried to show him the Irish storyteller, but I wouldn't have found him without the excluded terms.

Now there's a first world problem! "What comes up when you google the name? Is it something you want your grandmother or your child's employer to see?" The results for Eamon are not.

August 17, 2016 2:49 AM

Never mind this vulgar personage who is surely going to vanish from public view very quickly.  Think of Eamon de Valera who was a key figure in the struggle for Irish independence and a major political leader after Ireland became independent, always on the list of the most important people in Irish history.  Or Eamonn Coghlan who won multiple Olympic medals in track and went on to serve in the Irish parliament.

Frankly I am surprised Eamon de Valera did not come up in your search.  Just goes to show the interests of many Google searchers....

August 17, 2016 3:15 AM

de Valera came up twice, after the refined search. Once was a conspiracy theory saying he was a British spy. I did cite him in the list of notable persons bearing the name, along with the Green Party rep, the athletes, actors, and the musicians.

The vulgur musician's posts were mainly 8 years ago, but so popular they were still all at the top of the results, giving a skewed perspective.

By mk
August 17, 2016 2:51 AM

I think you are overthinking it. I googled Eamon and got a lot of variety on the first 3 pages. Even if the singer and Google are still around 20+ years from now, I doubt employers will care. They are going to be looking for the full name, not first name only anyway. As for family, I think people understand.