Celtic last names encompass a variety of surnames from many different traditions. Celtic languages include Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Breton, Manx, and Cornish. This means there are a lot of fabulous last names to choose from but we will mainly concern ourselves with Irish last names and Scottish Gaelic surnames as they are some of the most well-known and beloved names in the US today and they work extremely well as given baby names for both boys and girls.
Celtic last names began being used widely in the 11th century when common given names no longer helped people distinguish individuals in growing populations. Tribe names and Gaelic Clan names emerged as the best way for people to identify themselves. The Clan system further broke down into different Septs until many were forced to adopt more Anglicized forms of their names. Today, Irish last names are varied as are many other Celtic last names that you will find across Europe. Let’s take a look at the best last names that work incredibly well as given names for your baby!
Try These Amazing Celtic Last Names As First Names!
Celtic Last Names That Works As First Names for Girls
Kelly derived from Ó Ceallaigh an Irish Gaelic surname that means “bright-headed.” This Irish name is technically gender-neutral as are many of the appellations on this list which have been given liberally to both boys and girls through the years.
Ryan is commonplace in the US today but before it was Ryan this name came from the Irish Gaelic name Ó Maoilriain, meaning “king.” We love this name for girls but it can easily be used for baby boys as well.
Kennedy is a storied Gaelic name that can be found in both Irish and Scottish traditions. For the Irish, this name came mainly from Ó Cinnéide which means “helmet-headed.” However, in Scotland Kennedy is associated with Scottish Gaelic surnames: Ceanadach, Ceannaideach, MacCnusachainn, MacRusachainn, and MacUalraig.
Quinn is a versatile name that comes from Irish Gaelic Ó Cuinn. This appellation means “wisdom” and “chief.” It was associated with a clan in County Tyrone in Northern Ireland. In Scotland, you will find it associated with the name MacCuinn or MacQueen.
We thought that O’Shea was a little much as a first name so we decided to present you with Shea which is derived from the Irish Gaelic name Ó Séaghdha. The name means “stately” and “fine.”
Healy makes for a perfectly offbeat yet familiar given name. It comes from the Irish Gaelic name Ó hÉalaighthe, meaning “artistic” and “scientific.” It’s one of the perfect Irish surnames to use as a first name.
A unisex classic in the US, Casey comes from a few Celtic last names, namely the Irish Ó Cathasaigh, which means “vigilant in war” and “watchman.”
We love the name Regan for a baby girl. It comes from the Irish surname Ó Riagáin, meaning “little king.” The name has been a mildly popular choice in the US off and on since the 1970s.
This name remains mostly intact and unchanged like many of the Anglicized forms of the names on this list, at least for the Irish surname, which means “red hair” or “ruddy complexion.” For the Scots, however, this name evolved from many surnames including MacIlleRuaidh, Roid, Roideach, Ruadh, and Mac’IlleRuaidh.
A very common surname, Channing means “people of Cana” or “wolf cub.” The name comes from Mac Cana. The Mac Cana clan originated as chiefs of Cenél Aengusa, the name of a kindred and its territory in Tír Eoghain.
The most popular surname in Ireland today, Murphy comes from Ó Murchadha and means “sea battler.” In fact, it’s one of the most popular Celtic surnames in the world. In Scotland, you will find it applied to those who previously used MacMhurchaidh.
Sheeran would make for a fabulous alternative to Sharon! This Irish last name comes from Ó Síoráin or Ó Sírín or Mac Searthuin. It means “descendant of Sírín/Síorán/Searthuin” or “eternal.”
Dillon is an Irish surname of Breton origin derived from Diolun. Do not confuse this one with a Welsh name that sounds the same, Dylan. Dillon means “loyal.”
From the Irish Gaelic surnames Ó Fiaich and Ó Fathaigh, Fay is the Anglicized form but Fahey is also common. This name means “descendant of Fathaigh” which itself means “base” or “foundation.”
How do you feel about using Fee as a given name? We think it has its charms. Ó Fiaich was the surname of a Gaelic-Irish erenagh and Brehon family from County Fermanagh. Not only does that name give us Fay, it also gives us Fee! Thus, this name also means “base” and “foundation.”
One of the Celtic last names you are likely familiar with, Flannery was popularized as a given name for girls in the US by Flannery O’Connor. Flannery comes from the Irish surname Ó Flannghaile, meaning “descendant of Flannghal.” That name can be further translated to “red eyebrows” or “red warrior.”
Kearney is another one of the Celtic last names that sound special as a first. The surname derives from the Gaelic O Catharnaigh, derived from the word “cearnach,” meaning “warlike” or “victorious.”
One of the Celtic last names that sounds surprisingly like Lucy, Lucey comes from Old Gaelic Ó Luasaigh, anciently, Mac Cluasaigh. The meaning of the original name is debated but it could come from Lucius by way of a Norman conquest, meaning “light.” Or it might be a name denoting someone with “big ears.”
O’Reilly is a very popular surname in Ireland today. It was derived from Ó Raghallaigh, a Sept that was based in Counties Cavan and Westmeath. While a similar name, Riley, is more popular as a given name in the US, Reilly would be a standout way to give an appellation more character. The name means “courageous.”
Rowan is a commonly given name today but it comes from a variety of Celtic last names originally. In Ireland, the name is derived from Ó Ruadháin. The name can means “the rowan tree” or “little red one.”
Seery is one of the best Celtic last names to use as an alternative to Sara. It is derived from the Gaelic name Ó Saoraidhe meaning “descendant of Saoraidhe,” a personal name derived from saordha, meaning “noble.”
An Irish last name that is sometimes Anglicized as Sloan or Sloane, it comes from Ó Sluaghhadáin which means “raid” or “little raider.” Sloane has emerged as a trendy unisex name in the US today and we are thrilled with it!
Tierney is derived from Ó Tighearnaigh or Ní Thighearnaigh. The names simply come from an Irish word that means “lord.” There were five unrelated Clans with this name all over Gaelic Ireland.
Blair is an Anglicized name from Scottish Gaelic origin. It comes from the Scottish Gaelic surnames Blàr or Blàrach. The name means “dweller of the plains.”
We find another Scottish Gaelic surname in Cameron which is derived from Camran, Camshron, and Camshronach. Cameron is a popular choice for both boys and girls today even though this name means “crooked nose.”
Leamhanach and Leamhnach are the primary Scottish surnames that give us Lennox. Of all the Celtic last names on this list, Lennox feels most distinct as a given name for girls. It is a habitational surname that means “from many elm trees.”
From Loganach, Logan is a very popular choice in the US today. The name means “little hollow.”
Derived from the Celtic last names MacBhlàthain and MacIlleBhlàthain, it’s easy to see that Blaine is the streamlined form here. The name is considered to come from both Scottish and Irish Gaelic origin, meaning “slender” or “yellow.”
Now, we look to other Celtic last names, this one from Wales, which means “son of Aubrey.” The Welsh roots of this name mean “one living with elder trees.”
Another Welsh surname that seems like a natural fit to us, is Dew. The name is a result of a Norman conquest and refers to someone from Eu in Seine-Maritime, France. However, some argue that the Celtic meaning of this name is “dark complexion.”
Another Welsh last name, Wynn comes from the name Wyn and the word Gwynn. It means “blessed” or “fair.”
Malone is an Irish surname from Mael Eòin, meaning “servant,” a reference to being devoted to Saint John. Malone is currently more popular for baby girls than boys but it is technically gender-neutral.
Meara is a gorgeous name that comes from the Ó Meadhra Clan who resided in the Irish Gaelic Kingdom of Limerick. The Irish meaning of the name is “pool” or “lake.” Others claim the name is related to the word myrrh and means “jovial.” We’ll take any of those wonderful meanings!
Celtic Last Names That Fit Perfectly As First Names for Boys
Now, let’s take a look at some Celtic last names for boys. Doyle is a bold name from the Irish Gaelic surname Ó Dubhghaill. The name means “dark foreigner.”
Stewart is the Anglicized form of the Irish last name Stiobhard. The name means “one who superintends.” This is one of the true Celtic last names that’s also found in Scottish Gaelic as a form of Stiùbhart or Stiùbhartach. The name can also be taken to means “steward.”
Graham is a very Irish surname that’s one of the most popular ones in Ireland today. It means “grey home” or “gravelly homestead.” In Scotland, it was derived from Greum and Greumach.
From the Irish family name Ó Buachalla, Buckley means “cowherd.” This name has never been a popular given name option in the US but we think it is one of the Celtic last names that could really be beloved as a first name for boys.
One of the top 50 most popular surnames in Ireland today, Flynn comes from Ó Floinn and means “bright red.” It would make for a fresh alternative to Finn.
Brady comes from the Irish surname Mac Brádaigh, meaning “spirited one.” Brady is a top 500 pick for baby boys born in the US today.
Similar to Weylan, Whelan comes from Ó Faoláin which is an Irish surname that means “wolf.” This is one of the Celtic last names that has gone largely unused as a given name in the US.
From the Irish surname, Ó Bruaideadha, we get Briody. It is a very old name from a personal name Bruaided. The Clan with this name inhabited Counties Longford and Cavan. The Gaelic meaning of this name is unknown but could potentially be “broad eye” or “broad island.”
Burke is another Irish surname that comes from de Búrca and refers to Richard de Burgh. The name was adopted by the Irish after one of the Norman conquests. The name means “from the fortress.”
One of the ever-popular Celtic last names to use as a first name is Clarke! Clarke comes from ÓCléirigh meaning “clergyman.” The Scottish surname Mac a’ Chléirich might also have been Anglicized into Clarke or Clark as well.
Conroy is likely derived from Ó Maolchonaire and Mac Conraoi. Conroy makes for an interesting and evocative first name. It means “hound of the plains.”
Cregg comes from the Scottish Gaelic word creag, meaning “a rock” which became the Scottish word “craig.” The Scottish surnames Creag, Creagach, and Mac na Carraige all predate the name.
From Scottish Gaelic we get many names that became Fergus or Ferguson, mainly Fearghasdan and MacFhearghais. In Ireland, you will find the name Ó Fearghusa (which the Scottish names likely have been derived from). The name means “man of force.”
Finn comes from the Irish Ó Finn, meaning “descendant of Fionn.” The byname means “white” or “fair-haired.” The name belonged to the hero of Irish mythology Fionn mac Cuumhaill, a brave and warm warrior. It’s one of the most popular names for boys in the US today.
Giles is an Irish name too! It comes from the surname Ó Glaisne, a County Louth name. The name likely means “green” or “blue.”
The Irish surname Ó Gríofa comes from the Welsh name Gruffudd (Griffith). Both were Anglicized to Griffin. The Welsh meaning of the name is “lord” or “strong lord.”
Keefe or O’Keeffe are Irish surnames from Ó Caoimh, meaning “gentle.” It is used as both a surname and a given name and we think it makes for a fabulous alternative to Keith.
The biggie of all Celtic last names Mack means “son” and is the basis for much of Irish and Scottish surnaming tradition. Many, many, many names contain Mack or Mac or Mc in some form.
Nolan is a handsome name for boys but also an Irish surname from Ó Nualláin, meaning “son of the famous one.” Today, the name is more popular than ever before for boys in the US.
A big one! Patrick can be considered an Anglicized form of the surname Mac Phádraig or diminutive forms of Fitzpatrick and Mulpatrick. In most cases, the Gaelic form of the name is taken to mean “a devotee to Saint Patrick.” The name was adopted from Latin, Patricius, meaning “noble patrician.”
Tobin is another one of the Celtic last names that was adopted after the Norman conquest in the 12th century. The name is often found spelled Tóibín in Ireland. It is related to the Norman surname de St. Aubyn. The name means “of St. Aubyn.” Tobin was once a popular given name to boys in the US but fell out of fashion in the 1970s.
Troy is an Anglicized form of a few Irish surnames. Ó Tréamháin, Ó Troighthigh, and Ó Turráin might have all been changed to Troy. Because each of these names has its own meaning there are several possibilities here. Troy can mean “son of the foot soldier,” “son of the journals,” or “son of the turrets.” The name has been a favorite in the US for decades.
There is an Irish name Keir that means “black” but this name is also derived from Scottish surnames MacIlleChiar, Mac’IlleChiar, Ciarach, and Ciar. The name can also mean “dark” or “dusky.”
Dallas comes from the Scottish Gaelic name Dalais. The Gaelic root of this name means “skilled” or “from the meadow.” It’s one of the Celtic last names that feels American thanks to the city in Texas.
Gibson is an English form of Scottish surnames Giobsan, MacGilleBhrìghde, and MacGilleBhrìghde. Today, we consider this name to mean “Gilbert’s son.”
From the Scottish Gaelic name Lathurna or Loarn we get Lorne. It is associated with the legendary king of Dál Riata, Loarn mac Eirc of Scotland’s western coast. This name can potentially refer to that place or come from the Celtic word that means “fox.”
One of the Celtic last names from Wales, Vaughan comes from the Welsh word bychan, meaning “small.”
The Welsh name Rhydderch was Anglicized as Roderick. The name means “reddish-brown.”
Yet another Welsh name, Elisedd gave us Ellis which means “benevolent.” Ellis is a top 500 name for boys in the US today! It’s one of the Celtic last names that truly bridged the divide!
Edris is sometimes spelled Idris and comes from Welsh roots: uud and ris, meaning “impulsive lord.” It’s one of the Celtic last names that sounds so very fresh and modern today thanks to A-list star Idris Elba.
A very popular surname in Ireland today, Keane comes from Mac Catháin. The name is sometimes Anglicized to Kane. The root of the name means “war.”
Caimbeul and Caimbeulach are two Scottish Gaelic surnames that were changed to Campbell. Campbell today is a popular last name in both Scotland and Ireland. The Gaelic root of this word means “crooked mouth.”
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One of the most popular names for boys in the US is Grady and it comes from the Irish surname O Gradaugh which you might have seen spelled O’Gradys. The Irish Clan gave us an impressive number of bishops through the years. The Gaelic root of the name means “noble.”
What did you think of these Celtic last names as first names? We found amazing names used in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales today as well as their root names that once named great Clans and Septs. Celtic last names are beautiful and storied and we hope you will honor your heritage whether it be Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish, or Manx with a given name taken from these cherished surnames!
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
- 1 Try These Amazing Celtic Last Names As First Names!
- 1.1 Celtic Last Names That Works As First Names for Girls
- 1.2 Kelly
- 1.3 Ryan
- 1.4 Kennedy
- 1.5 Quinn
- 1.6 Shea
- 1.7 Healy
- 1.8 Casey
- 1.9 Regan
- 1.10 Reid
- 1.11 Channing
- 1.12 Murphy
- 1.13 Sheeran
- 1.14 Dillon
- 1.15 Fay
- 1.16 Fee
- 1.17 Flannery
- 1.18 Kearney
- 1.19 Lucey
- 1.20 Reilly
- 1.21 Rowan
- 1.22 Seery
- 1.23 Sloane
- 1.24 Tierney
- 1.25 Blair
- 1.26 Cameron
- 1.27 Lennox
- 1.28 Logan
- 1.29 Blain
- 1.30 Awbrey
- 1.31 Dew
- 1.32 Wynn
- 1.33 Malone
- 1.34 Meara
- 1.35 Celtic Last Names That Fit Perfectly As First Names for Boys
- 1.36 Doyle
- 1.37 Stewart
- 1.38 Graham
- 1.39 Buckley
- 1.40 Flynn
- 1.41 Brady
- 1.42 Whelan
- 1.43 Briody
- 1.44 Burke
- 1.45 Clarke
- 1.46 Conroy
- 1.47 Cregg
- 1.48 Fergus
- 1.49 Finn
- 1.50 Giles
- 1.51 Griffin
- 1.52 Keefe
- 1.53 Mack
- 1.54 Nolan
- 1.55 Patrick
- 1.56 Tobin
- 1.57 Troy
- 1.58 Keir
- 1.59 Dallas
- 1.60 Gibson
- 1.61 Lorne
- 1.62 Vaughan
- 1.63 Roderick
- 1.64 Ellis
- 1.65 Edris
- 1.66 Keane
- 1.67 Campbell
- 1.68 Grady
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