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: 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

Dara | Say: darra

Derives from ‘dair’ meaning ‘oak’.


Declan | Say: day-glawn

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.


Dermot | Say: deer-mwid

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

Say: dun-acka dun-ah

Means ‘brown headed warrior’. Common Irish name and surname. Brian Boru was succeeded by his son, Donagh.

Dónal Domhnall

Donal, Donald | Say: dough-nal

Literally means ‘world mighty’, or ‘ruler of the world’.


Edmund, Edward | Say: aim-on

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.


Heber, Ivor | Say: ee-vurr

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.


Not strictly speaking Irish at all, but a name which honours the famous Irish rebel, Robert Emmet. Now quite popular as a first name.


Means ‘like a bird’ or ‘free as a bird’. It can be either a boy’s or a girl’s name.

Eoghan Eoin

Owen, John | Say: oh-in

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.


Say: fawk-nah

Was the name of an early Irish saint. Still in use but uncommon.


Say: fail-im

‘Always good’. Was a common name in early Ireland, less so now. Sometimes spelled Phelim.


Say: fer-dee-ah

Fear Dhia means ‘man of God.’ Ferdia was a warrior of Irish mythology.


Fergal | Say: fer-gull

‘Fear’ means ‘man’ and ‘geal’ means brave, so the name means ‘brave man’.


Say: fer-gus

Again ‘Fear’ means ‘man’; ‘gus’ means ‘stong’, so ‘strong man’.


Say: 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‘.


Say: 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!



Means ‘fair-haired’. St. Finbar is the saint of Cork, and his name a very popular one in the area.


Florence | Say: fin-een

‘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.


Finn | Say: fee-un

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.


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.


Finn | Say: fee-yun

Means ‘white’ or ‘fair headed’. Fionn mac Cumhail (Finn McCool) is one of the best known characters of Irish folklore and mythology.


Say: flan

Means ‘blood red’. Flann O’Brien was the penname of Irish author Brian O’Nolan.


Garvan | Say: gar-van

From garbh meaning ‘rough’.


Galvin| Say: gal-van

Means ‘bright white’. More often a surname than a first name nowadays.


Garret or Gerald | Say: ger-oh-id

‘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.


Christian | Say: gilla-creest

Means ‘servant of God’.


| Say: gilla-ee-sah

‘Servant of Jesus’.

Iarla Iarfhlaith

Jarlath | Say: ear-lah

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.

Published: November 30, 2008 | Updated: March 31, 2017 | Image Credits

Irish Place Names

The origin and meaning of place names in Ireland can be tricky to decipher, but …

Strongbow and the Normans: 1170 – 1536

In 1170 Ireland was again invaded, by the Normans, led by Strongbow, beginning a …

The Vikings in Ireland: 800AD–1169

The Vikings held sway in Ireland from 795 AD until defeated by Brian Boru at …


Don't be fooled by the simplicity of the recipe, this is comfort food at its …

Sponsored Content


  • Moya says:

    Eoghan is indeed an Irish name Eoghan Mor conquered most of Europe He was a Donegal Prince Tir Eoghan is called after Eoghan Son of Niall of the nine hostages Latin For Eoghan is Eugenius Latin for Eoin or John is Johanna Eoin is Christian and also found is Scotland as Euen or Ian .

  • Julie says:

    In my family tree I have the quite few generations that handed down the Christian name Ireland.Has anyone else heard this as a forename? Is it a common first name

  • Barbara Whiteaker says:

    My Irish great, great grandfather’s name is Dominick Boyle. Can’t find him at all and not being baptized in 1798. Is there another name for Dominick I also know I am part Scandinavian. Does this have something to do with it?

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

  • Mary says:

    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.

  • Jerome says:

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

  • […] It being St. Patrick’s Day, I thought it appropriate to regale you with a bit of Celtic mythology. Okay, it’s actually only St. Patrick’s for another half hour, and I’m not sure I’ll finish this post in that time, but it was at least STARTED on the seventeenth. Anyway, the myth in question here is that of Fintan, the Salmon of Knowledge. This creature was apparently an ordinary salmon at first, but when eating of the nine hazelnuts that had grown above his well, he gained an incredible amount of knowledge. Later, the goddess Boann magically caused the well to boil over, forming the River Boyne, in which Fintan ended up. The druid and poet Finn Eces, also known as Finegas, spent seven years trying to catch the fish, and eventually succeeded. At this point, the legendary Finn MacCool was a pupil of Finegas’, and Finn cooked the salmon for his master. When he burnt himself on one of Fintan’s fins, he sucked on the resulting blister, and that gave him the knowledge that the fish had contained. Finegas realized that the rest of the fish would do him no good after that, and allowed Finn to eat the whole thing, leading to his becoming intelligent as well as strong and brave. Some people just have it all, don’t they? Image Source […]

  • emmet says:

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

  • Dominic Magliocco says:

    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 says:

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

    • Frances says:

      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!

    • Hanna says:

      It is Gaelic for John. When John Paul came to Ireland he was called Pope Eoin Pol.

    • Shmoriarty says:

      Eoghan or Eoin is often used in Ireland as the translation of a foreign John. Seán is used for a native John. Hence why Pope John Paul would be Pápa Eoin Pól, but a John going to the Gaeltacht would be known as Seán there.

    • Katherine says:

      That’s interesting, I didn’t know that but it makes a lot of sense when I think of various translated Johns!

    • Ashy says:

      Seán would be John as Gaeilge

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *