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What’s in a name? Jack’s still the lad while Irish parents are going wild for Fiadh as choice for girls


Top baby names for 2021 are revealed. Image: Central Statistics Office

Top baby names for 2021 are revealed. Image: Central Statistics Office

Top baby names for 2021 are revealed. Image: Central Statistics Office

Even before their little darling is born, parents agonise over what name to give them. It’s little wonder Kylie Jenner did a U-turn on her baby son’s name of Wolf as it “didn’t really feel like it was him”.

Pick a name that’s too popular and you risk having to specify which James you are calling in the playground or you end up using their full name every time you mention him in parent WhatsApp groups.

If you call them after a relative on one side of the family, you risk offending the other side for a perceived snub.

It also has to be a name that works well with the baby’s surname. It’s a veritable minefield, and you have to tread carefully.

Now that the birth rates are increasing again in Ireland, we have had a plethora of new and unusual names making their way into the Irish populace.

And while Irish parents like to stick to traditional Irish names for their boys, parents of girls are a little more adventurous when it comes to their choices.

Last year saw some 4,741 girls’ names being registered compared to 3,863 of boys’ names.

But what were the most popular names among the 58,442 babies born in 2021, and how do they compare to previous years?

Well, Jack has been the most popular name for boys since 2007, with the only exception being in 2016 when James took the top spot. The next most popular names last year were Noah, James, Conor and Rían.

New entrants in the top 100 list of most popular names included Teddy, Dáithí, Páidí, Jaxon, Brody, Ted, Hunter, Tadgh, Tiernan and Arlo.

For female babies, Irish parents are loving the name Fiadh, meaning wild, and it claimed the top spot in 2021 – making its debut at number one.

After that came Grace, Emily, Sophie and Éabha.

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Making their debut in the most-popular list were the names Indie, Ayla and Lottie.

As proof of how much our choices have evolved over the years, none of the top five names for girls in 2021 appeared in the top 100 table 50 years previously. For daughters born in 1971, the most popular names were Mary, Catherine, Margaret, Fiona and Sinéad. Some 1,907 baby girls were named Mary that year alone.

The last time there was a mini-baby boom was in 2009 when 74,554 births were recorded in Ireland. Back then, Jack was the most popular name for boys registered, with 1,061 given that name.

Sophie made its debut as the most popular moniker for girls that year, given to a total of 635 babies. Hot on its heels was Ava, given to 630 babies, alongside Emma, Sarah and Grace. For boys, parents went for Seán, Daniel, Conor and James.

There were three first-time entrants in the top 100 most-popular names for boys, including Bobby, Shay and Szymon. For girls, Madison and Layla were among the debutantes.

Prior to this, the last time we had a peak level of births recorded in Ireland was back in 1980 when it reached a 20th-century peak of 74,000.

Back then, the strength of the Catholic religion was in full force when it came to the choice of baby names.

Pope John Paul II paid a visit here on September 29, 1979, and one third of the Republic’s population, or 1.25m devout Catholics, attended his mass in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.

A further 450,000 people flocked to Mayo to hear him give a mass at Knock Shrine. That’s more than the number of people going to see Garth Brooks’s five sold-outs dates in Croker.

And the papal visit certainly left a lasting legacy – the following year saw 10pc of boys born in Ireland named John Paul. But that name doesn’t even feature in the top 100 now.

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