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Traditional Irish Boys’ Names: D-I

The Story of a Name: Fionn

The Salmon of Knowledge

The Salmon of Knowledge

The legend of Fionn McCumhaill, or Finn Mc Cool, is probably the most famous of all Irish Legends. There are many stories told about him, but my favourite is the tale of how he acquired his great knowledge.

As a boy he was sent to study with the druid and poet Finnegas, who for seven years had been obsessed with a quest to catch a salmon.

Not just any salmon, this one had eaten the hazel nuts that fell from nine trees surrounding a well and in so doing become possessed of all the knowledge in the world.

The first person who could eat of this salmon’s flesh would in turn have this knowledge.

Eventually he caught the fish and instructed Fionn to cook it. While doing so the boy burned his thumb and without thinking stuck it into his mouth, in so doing putting a piece of the fish’s skin in his mouth also. And so it was he and not his master who was endowed with the gift of all pervading knowledge.

Traditional Irish Boy’s Names Dáithí - Iarla

Say English Origin/History
Dáithí daw-hee Means ‘speed’ or ‘agility’. “Dáithí Lacha” was used as the Irish translation for Donald Duck, but it is more often anglicised as David.
Darragh Daire darra Dara Derives from ‘dair’ meaning ‘oak’.
Deaglán day-glawn Declan Old name of uncertain origin. St Declan is said to have been in Ireland before St Patrick. Many churches and schools bear his name and it is a common name in Ireland.
Diarmuid deer-mwid Dermot A very common name in Celtic mythology, it is said to mean ‘friend of all’. Has many anglicised forms including Jerome, Jeremiah and, believe it or not, Kermit! Who knew Kermit was Irish??
Donnacha Donagh dun-acka dun-ah Means ‘brown headed warrior’. Common Irish name and surname. Brian Boru was succeeded by his son, Donagh.
Dónal Domhnall dough-nal Donal, Donald Literally means ‘world mighty’, or ‘ruler of the world’.
Eamon aim-on Edmund, Edward Means ‘keeper of riches’. Eamon De Valera was Ireland’s first Taoiseach (prime minister) and was later President of Ireland. A variant spelling is Iamonn, which is pronounced Yamon.
Éibhear ee-vurr Heber, Ivor In Irish mythology Míl was one of the Spanish antecedents of the Irish Celts. He had two sons, Éibhear Dunn (dark) and Éibhear Finn (fair). The name is mostly found today in the North of Ireland in its anglicised forms.
Emmet Not strictly speaking Irish at all, but a name which honours the famous Irish rebel, Robert Emmet. Now quite popular as a first name.
Enda Means ‘like a bird’ or ‘free as a bird’. It can be either a boy’s or a girl’s name.
Eoghan Eoin oh-in Owen, John Eo mean Yew, as in the tree but the name is taken to me ‘well born’. Co Tyrone in the north of Ireland is strictly translated as “Land of the Yew”, though it actually got its name from a 17th century warrior Eoin Roe O’Neill (Red Eoin) who led an army to victory over the English at the Battle of Benburb. The name is also one Irish form of John.
Fachtna fawk-nah Was the name of an early Irish saint. Still in use but uncommon.
Felim fail-im Philip ‘Always good’. Was a common name in early Ireland, less so now. Sometimes spelled Phelim.
Ferdia fer-dee-ah Fear Dhia means ‘man of God.’ Ferdia was a warrior of Irish mythology.
Fearghal fer-gull Fergal ‘Fear’ means ‘man’ and ‘geal’ means brave, so the name means ‘brave man’.
Fergus fer-gus Again ‘Fear’ means ‘man’; ‘gus’ means ‘stong’, so ‘strong man’.
Fiach fee-ock Means ‘ravan’. Fiach MacHugh O’Beirne was a considerable thorn in the side of Queen Elizabeth’s army in Ireland in the 16th century and is immortalised in the Irish folk song ‘Follow me up to Carlow‘.
Fiachra fee-ock-rah Probably a derivation of Fiach. St Fiachra was an Irish monk who went to France and founded the village of Saint-Fiacre in Seine-et-Marne. He is famous for two things – not permitting women to enter his church and as the patron saint of Paris cab drivers!
Finbar Barry Means ‘fair-haired’. St. Finbar is the saint of Cork, and his name a very popular one in the area.
Finín fin-een Florence ‘Fair son’. It is often anglicised to Florence, and yes, people in Ireland do name boys Florence. Mostly in West Cork, where it is quite a common name, often shortened to Flor.
Fionn fee-un Finn Means ‘fair’. Finn McCool is probably the best known Irish mythological hero. A member of the Fianna, he is said to have created the Giant’s Causeway in Co Antrim. This is the origin of the surname Flynn.
Fintan Fin means ‘white’ and it is possible that ‘tan’ is from a word meaning ‘fire’. So the name can be taken to mean ‘white (fair) haired’ or ‘white fire/heat’. There are several St Fintan’s in Irish history, of whom some of the best known have associations with the midlands, where this name is most commonly found.
Fionn fee-yun Finn Means ‘white’ or ‘fair headed’. Fionn mac Cumhail (Finn McCool) is one of the best known characters of Irish folklore and mythology.
Flann flan Means ‘blood red’. Flann O’Brien was the penname of Irish author Brian O’Nolan.
Garbhán gar-van Garvan From garbh meaning ‘rough’.
Gealbhan gal-van Galvin Means ‘bright white’. More often a surname than a first name nowadays.
Gearóid ger-oh-id Garret or Gerald ‘Gearr’ means ‘spear’, and the name means ‘spear carrier’, it was a popular name among Norman Irish families. Still common enough, Garret Fitzgerald is a former Taoiseach of Ireland.
Giollachríst gilla-creest Christian Means ‘servant of God’.
Giollaiosa gilla-ee-sah ‘Servant of Jesus’.
Iarla Iarfhlaith ear-lah Jarlath A popular name in Galway, especially around Tuam where St. Jarlath founded a monastery in the late 6th century. The letter J does not exist in Irish, so presumably he spelled his name in the Irish form.

What Others Say

  1. Dominic Magliocco Nov 7, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    I called my son Eoghan. I have been told by a friend of mine who is a professor of Celtic studies, that it is not the Irish for john but actually dates back to the pre-christian era.

    • Katherine Nov 11, 2010 at 9:23 pm

      I think you are probably correct. Irish to English is not always a direct translation when it comes to names.

    • Frances Sep 24, 2011 at 11:59 pm

      Eoghan is actually a Scottish name, Scotts Gaelic and Irish (gaeilge) are very similar. Sean is the Irish for John and Eoghan is the Scotts Gaelic for John. The two languages are connected in many ways and this may be why Eoghan is often classified as Irish!

  2. emmet Aug 7, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    Im emmet and kinda disappointed it doesn’t have irish roots :( and i lived in ireland all my life :(

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  4. Jerome Aug 31, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Fantastic information.  Thanks!  Diarmuid reminds me of druid.  Perhaps someday I’ll have a great white beard and live in a tree.  Suits me.

  5. Mary Aug 31, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Dont agree at all….Eoghan or Eoin does indeed have Irish roots.  Just becasue it also has scottish roots does not make it less irish.

  6. Daniel Patrick Thomas Feb 21, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    what about daniel – “DANNYBOY” gotta be in there C’mon !

    • Deirdre Jul 26, 2013 at 10:36 am

      Donal is the Irish form of Daniel. 

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