Sean and Sarah most popular Irish names

AMONG the more unusual names Irish parents gave their children last year were Elvis, Kylie, Setanta, Shakira and Paris.

Last year Sean was most popular name for boys and Sarah was the most popular for girls — yet yesterday’s Central Statistics Office’s Irish Babies’ Names 2006 list reveals that Ireland is enthralled with celebrity culture.

Even though Elvis Presley died 30 years ago, four Irish-born boys were registered with the name of the king of rock ’n’ roll last year.

And as American heiress Paris Hilton rose to the top of the bad girl charts, eight sets of parents called their daughter after the starlet — or the French capital.

Similarly, 15 sets of parents took Colombian pop star Shakira at her word when she sang Hips Don’t Lie, naming their children after the singer.

And four babies will forever be a reminder of Kylie Minogue after their parents were unable, in the words of the singer’s song, to get her out of their heads.

On the sporting front, five children were called Setanta — either after the television channel or the brother of Cork hurler Séan Óg Ó hAilpín.

Similarly, Manchester United fans still fond of their former midfield ace David Beckham named their children after his: five were called Romeo and 10 Brooklyn.

And in a country where religion still rules the roost as far as popular names go, five girls were called Nevaeh — or the word heaven backwards. It’s popular in America, said the CSO yesterday.

Despite the colourful choices of names, yesterday’s CSO study did reveal that parents of boys were generally more conservative when it came to names than girls. Of the 33,085 boys born last year, more than seven in 10 had names found in the top 100.

The top five — Sean, Jack, Conor, Adam and James — remained Ireland’s top boys names for the ninth year in a row. At the bottom of the top 100 were Tristan, Christian, Daire, Oran and Senan.

Of the 9,881 baby boys whose names did not appear in the top 100, they were called a staggering 3,150 different names.

Parents of girls were far less likely to stick to traditional names.

Of the 31,152 girls just over six-in-10 had names in the top 100 while the remainder were named from a choice of an amazing 4,047 different monikers.

And while Sarah, Emma and Aoife have remained in the top five baby girls’ names since 1998, last year saw two new arrivals: Sophie and Katie.

At the bottom of the girls’ top 100 were Victoria, Kelly, Alison, Alicia and Catherine.

Traditional Irish names are scattered throughout the top 100 boys and girls names: last year saw 546 girls called Aoife, 363 named Caoimhe, 217 Saoirse, and 71 Aoibhinn.

Likewise, 413 boys were called Oisin, 195 Fionn, 149 Eoghan, 122 Tadhg, 78 Ruairi.

Location of birth also seems to determine a baby’s name: although Sean is the country’s top boys’ name you’re more likely to be called Jack in the west, border region, mid-west, south-east and south-west.

And although Sarah is Ireland’s top girls’ name, you’ll be a Sophie in Dublin, Katie in the border region and Emma in the midlands and mid-west.

What’s in a name?

FAMOUS names that parents here have picked for their children:

* Girls:

* Shakira (15 children)

* Paris (eight)

* Nevaeh — ‘heaven’ backwards (five)

* Kylie (four)

* Boys:

* Brooklyn (10 children)

* Romeo (five)

* Setanta (five)

* Elvis (four)

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