Sean and Sarah tops in baby names' league . . . ahead of Jack and Emma
SEAN and Sarah top the charts as the most popular babies' names chosen by parents last year.
Parents are more predictable in their choice of boys' names, with Sean, Jack, Conor, Adam and James firmly lodged in the top five since 1998, with only their order changing.
There were 994 boys named Sean in 2006, ensuring its return to the top of the chart, pipping 2005 favourite Jack by just seven. Amongst girls, the name Sarah returned to the top position for the first time since 2002, with 698 infants receiving this name.
Emma was the second most popular girls' name, given to 593 babies, followed by Katie and Aoife. Newcomer Sophie made it into the top five for the first time.
The figures were compiled by the Central Statistics Office based on the names recorded on birth certificates each year.
In general they show girls are given a wider variety of names than boys, with almost four out of 10 girls (39pc) given a name outside the top 100, compared with just 30pc of boys.
Senan and Tristan were the newcomers to the top 100 for boys, while the names rising the most often were Cameron (90), Calum (44) and Rory (45).
The high profile of George Best's socialite son Calum may have helped boost the name's popularity up 26 places to 44.
However, parents resisted the urge to name their daughters after celebrities du jour like Paris Hilton, Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan with none of these names making it into the top 100.
Neither did those of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's grandchildren Rocco and Jay - but wait till next year and they may shoot up the charts.
There were three first time entries to the top 100 for girls: Aoibheann which was the highest new entry at 76, Aoibhinn and Jasmine - the latter joining Alana as the name which jumped highest in one year.
Irish language names were sprinkled throughout the charts. Apart from Sean, the names Conor, Cian, Darragh and Oisin figured in the top 20 for boys.
They were less popular for girls, with four making it into the top 20: Aoife, Ciara, Caoimhe and Niamh.
Where you live influences what you are called: Emma was the most popular girl's name in the midlands and mid-west, Sarah was most popular in the west, mid-east, southeast and southwest, while Katie took top honours in border counties and Sophie was the number one choice in Dublin.
And while Sean was most popular for boys in Dublin and surrounding counties, Jack was number one in the rest of the country.