Seamus is a fairly esoteric Irish name. It’s also a term Garrison Keillor uses in his Guy Noir radio stories to refer to a private eye. if you’ve ever listened to “Guy Noir” on NPR, you know how to pronounce Seamus.
Ever hear of an Irish singer named Sinead O’Connor? Her arrangement of a song (written by the artist formerly known as Prince) called “Nothing Compares 2 You” became a world-wide hit in the ’80s.
After Sinead came Siobhan Donaghy, an English singer (of Irish descent) who was a founding member of the Sugababes–a girl band whose breakout hit in the year 2000 was “Overload.”
If you don’t follow pop music closely, you’ll probably have no idea how to pronounce the names of those two Irish singers–or any of the other names on the list of Irish names below.
If you don’t believe me, try to pronounce the ten names listed below without peeking at the pronunciation guide (which you’ll have to scroll down to see). Don’t scroll down before you’ve tried to pronounce the next ten names.
Bet You Can’t Pronounce These Irish Girls’ Names Without Peeking
Bet You Can’t Pronounce These Irish Boys’ Names Without Peeking
Now that you know even musicologists can’t pronounce the ten Irish names you’ve just slaughtered, take a look at the other 24 names to see if there are any you could have pronounced correctly. With that information in mind, print out this list, fold it up, and stick it in your pocket. Whenever you need a dollar or a fiver to buy a newspaper or a bottle of beer, bet any friend who brags of being Irish that he can’t pronounce a single one out of five or ten or fifteen or twenty Irish names correctly. It’s like stealing a green party hat from a drunk Irishman
on St. Patrick’s Day.
Hard-to-Pronounce Irish Girls’ Names (With Pronunciation)
Caoimhe: KEE-va or KWEE-va
Caitlin: CAT-leen or CATH-leen
Ciara: KEE-ar-a or KEE-ra
Mairghread, Mairaid: mar-AID
Niamh: NEE-av or NEEV.
Orlaith: OR-lae or OR-la
Saorise: SEER-sha or SAIR-sha
Hart to Pronounce Irish Boys’ Names (With Pronunciation)
Aoibhinn, Aoibheann: EE-van
Aodhan, Aoden: AY-den, AY-dan
Cian: KEE-an or KEEN
Eoghan, Eoin,: OH-wen