Love a cool moving graph? Buckle in and enjoy an epic visual voyage through the most popular baby names in Ireland over the last 60 years, from ultra-classic Mary and John to today’s top choices, Emily and Jack.
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Top Baby Names in Ireland, 1964-2022
It’s nearly St Patrick’s Day. Ireland’s latest baby name rankings were recently released. And I’ve been meaning for a while to learn how to make moving charts with Flourish. So, with help from Central Statistics Office data, I put together the changes in Ireland’s Top 20 baby names from 1964 to the present.
Click through, enjoy, then come back and read more!
Ireland’s Top Boy Names 1964-2022
Ireland’s Top Girl Names 1964-2022
Number One Names Over the Years
Since the 1960s, Ireland has had 6 different top boy names, and 10 different top girl names. Until the 1980s, these were dominated by the most classic names of all, John and Mary, before they were finally replaced by date-stamped favorites David and Sarah.
From the 1990s onwards, the top spot became more of a revolving door, especially for girls where several names have only held it for one year. Overall, Jack and Emily have been the favorites of the last decade.
1964–84, 1986: John
1985, 1987–93: David
1994, 2016: James
1995–6, 1998-9: Conor
1997, 2003–4, 2006: Sean
2000–2, 2005, 2007–15, 2017–22: Jack
1983–97, 2001–2, 2006–7: Sarah
2011–19, 2022: Emily
Over the years, as in other countries, the number of children with the most popular popular baby names has decreased. In the 1960s, John and Mary were given to over 3000 children each; but in 2022, Jack was given to 641 boys, and Emily to only 349 girls.
The number of babies born has not changed dramatically, but the name pool has grown more diverse, and parents today are more likely to opt for distinctive, individual names.
Trends in the Top 20
While traditional names hung on in Ireland for longer than your average, through every decade the county’s Top 20 has been a blend of classics, names that trended worldwide, and local favorites.
In the 1960s, internationally popular names like Linda, Sandra, Anthony and Alan, rubbed shoulders with typically Irish choices like Bridget and Gerard.
The 1970s saw little change among the very top boy names, but lower down the Top 20, names like Declan, Shane, Jason and Keith went in and out of fashion. Girls saw more dramatic rises and falls, with names such as Sinead, Niamh, Michelle and Lisa coming into fashion, and Anne and Elizabeth dropping out of the Top 20.
In the 1980s, several names entered the Top 20 that remained there well into the 21st century, including Sean and Conor, Aoife and Emma.
Popular names in the 1990s included Cian, Eoin, Ciara and Aisling, alongside trends shared with the rest of the world like Ryan, Dylan, Lauren and Jessica. The 2000s saw a few new Irish names on the block, like Darragh, Oisin, and Caoimhe, as well as Joshua, Ava, and Grace. In these two decades, classic John and Mary finally dropped out of Ireland’s Top 20.
From the 2010s to the present, the dominant Irish girl names have been Fiadh, Éabha and Saoirse, and more parents are using nickname names like Ellie and Sadie. For boys, Irish names like Fionn and Rían have risen fast, as have international favorites like Noah and Charlie. But many classics are still popular too, including Michael which has never left the Top 20.
For more namespiration from the Emerald Isle, check out our lists of Irish girl names, and Irish names for boys.
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I have a personal fondness for Irish surnames as first names ... Flynn, Rafferty, Mara etc