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James and Emily the most popular names in 2016

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James was the most popular name for boys in 2016,  a position held by Jack for the previous 9 consecutive years.  Emily was the name chosen most often for baby girls in 2016 and it has retained it's number one ranking since 2011.


The top five boys’ names James, Jack, Daniel, Conor and Sean have been the top five since 2007 with slight changes to their order.   Indeed, four of the top five boys’ names (Jack, Sean, Conor and James) have been in the top five since 1998.  This is the sixth consecutive year that Emily has been the most popular name chosen for girls.  Emily, Grace, Ava, Lucy and Amelia and Sophie (joint 5th) were the top five most popular names for girls in 2016.  See table 2.1

Muhammad was the only new entry to the top 100 for boys in 2016.  Muhammad was also the boy’s name rising most in popularity.  It increased 36 places from 119th place in 2015 to 83rd place in 2016.   See tables 2.1 and 2.5.

There were six first time entrants to the top 100 for girls: Aria, Harper, Heidi, Matilda, Willow and Zoey.  Willow and Matilda were also the girls' names rising most in popularity, both up 49 places from 121st place and 146th place respectively in 2015 to 72nd and 97th place respectively in 2016.  See tables 2.1 and 2.5.

As in previous years, the tables show that girls are given a wider variety of names than boys with 4,526 girls’ names registered compared to 3,456 boys’ names.  Despite the greater number of male births, a smaller range of names were used for boys than for girls. 

In most areas of the country one of the top five boys’ names took the number one spot. 

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James was the most popular name for boys in Dublin City, Fingal, Kilkenny, Louth and Monaghan.  James along with Sean proved the most popular for baby boys registered in Longford.  In Limerick County it was James along with Conor that was most popular.  In Waterford County it was James and Jack that shared the top spot while in Sligo it was Jack and Ryan.  Ten areas favoured names outside of the top five for boys in 2016.  In Cork City and Donegal Charlie was the most popular boy's name, Noah was the most popular name in Laois and Cavan while Luke was the most favoured in Westmeath.  Michael was tops in Galway City and Thomas in Leitrim.  In North Tipperary and Wicklow respectively Michael and Noah shared the top position with Jack while in Mayo Cillian shared the top position with Conor.  See table 2.8(a).

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For girls, there were a number of areas in 2016 where the number one name was not in the first five.  Anna was the favourite in Galway County.  Caoimhe was favoured in Clare and Emma was the most popular in Longford.  In Waterford County Saoirse was the most popular.  In Kerry and Galway City, Fiadh was the most popular name.  Fiadh also shared the top place with Grace in North Tipperary.  In Carlow and Waterford City Mia was the name most favoured.  Mia also shared the number one place with Lucy in Wexford.  In Cavan Ella shared top place with Ava and Lucy.  See table 2.8(b).

Some of the less common girls' names registered in 2016 and not included in the top 100 names were Madara, Paisley and Yana.  Some of the less popular boys' names registered in 2016 were Mazen, Koby, Bentley and Jett.

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Where both parents were stated as being Irish nationals, Jack was the most popular name.  Finn and Isaac were the most popular choice with parents of UK nationality.  Daniel was the most popular boy’s name chosen by parents from the EU15 (excluding Ireland and the UK).  David was the name chosen most often by parents from the EU28 excluding EU15.  Parents from nations outside the EU made Muhammad the highest ranked name of baby boys registered in Ireland in 2016.  See table 2.9.

For girls where both parents were Irish nationals, Grace was the most popular name.  Aria and Emily were the names most often chosen by parents of UK nationality.  Emma along with Maria ranked first with parents of the EU15 (excluding Ireland and the UK) and Julia took the top spot with parents of the EU 28 excluding EU15 countries.  Parents from outside the EU28 made Sarah the name that ranked highest of baby girls registered in Ireland in 2016.  See table 2.9.


An analysis of the top ten most popular surnames of babies registered in 2016 is also included in this publication.  There were 63,897 live births registered in 2016.  Of these, there were 21,078 unique surnames.  These unique surnames include some double barrelled surnames e.g. O’Brien-Murphy.  The top 10 most popular surnames account for 7.4% (or 4,713) of the 63,897 births registered in 2016.  The surname ‘Murphy’ accounted for over 1.1% (697 births) while ‘Kelly’ accounts for 0.9% or 598 births.  See table 2.10. 

John and Mary the most popular names in 1966

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An analysis was done of the baby names registered fifty years earlier in 1966. There were 3,152 boys whose registered name was John in 1966 which made it the most popular name for boys.  The name John was ranked number 25 in popularity in 2016 when 269 baby boys were so named.  See tables 2.11 and 2.12.

The top five boys’ names in 1966 were, in order, John, Michael, Patrick, James and Paul.  Of these five names only James was in the top five names registered for boys fifty years later in 2016.   See table 2.11.

While 1,443 baby boys were named James in 1966, when it was ranked 4th, there was less than half of that number (688) baby boys named James in 2016, making it the most popular name for boys.  The names  Adam, Jack, Luke, Noah or Oisin did not appear anywhere on the top 100 list of male baby names in 1966.  However, Conor, Daniel, Michael and Sean were in the top 100 most popular names in 1966.   

For girls, Mary was the name of choice for 2,857 parents for their newborn daughters in 1966 making it the most popular name for girls born that year.  It was also still among the top 100 names (ranked 84) for baby girls born in Ireland in 2016 when 70 newborn girls were named Mary.  See tables 2.11 and 2.12.

The top five girls’ names in 1966 were Mary, Catherine, Margaret, Ann and Anne.  None of these names featured in the top five names registered for baby girls in 2016.  Mary is the only name out of the top five in 1966 that features in the top 100 names for girls in 2016.  See table 2.11.

None of the top 10 most popular names for girls' in 2016 appeared anywhere in the top 100 girls' names in 1966.

As in 2016, the data for 1966 shows that girls were given a wider variety of names than boys.  However, the range of names for both boys and girls were not as varied in 1966 in comparison to 2016.  There were 1,323 girls’ names registered in 1966 (versus 4,526 in 2016) and 800 boys’ names (as against 3,456 in 2016).

Go to:Babies' Names 2016 Tables