Irish Names Beginning with R

Irish names have a rich history and many are deeply rooted in Gaelic culture. With their unique sounds, meanings and origins, they are often regarded as enchanting and distinctive. One of the interesting aspects of Irish names is the variety of choices that begin with the letter ‘R.’ This might be surprising, as ‘R’ is not commonly considered a prevalent starting letter for names in many other cultures. Thus, this article will focus on the charm of Irish names that begin with ‘R.’

Characterized by their meaningful backgrounds, Irish ‘R’ names often have underlying stories and significance. For instance, some embody strength or sovereignty, capturing the essence of Irish traditions and folklore. Others represent the beauty of nature, as well as the values that have been passed down through generations.

To showcase the beauty of these names, we will explore a variety of popular and lesser-known Irish names starting with ‘R.’ Along the way, we’ll delve into their meanings, stories, and impact on Irish culture. So, let’s dive in and discover the captivating world of Irish ‘R’ names!

R Names for Baby Boys


Regan is a popular Irish baby boy name that has roots in Gaelic origin. It is derived from the surname ‘O’Regan,’ which means ‘descendant of Riaghan.’ The name carries a great sense of community and family, as it signifies being part of an Irish lineage. Regan is a good choice for parents looking for a unique and meaningful name for their baby boy.


Reilley is another popular Irish boy name, which comes from the surname ‘O’Reilly.’ The name has a strong Irish identity and is often associated with resilience and strength. In Gaelic, Reilley means ‘courageous’ or ‘valiant.’ It is a masculine name with a bold and courageous personality, and it is suitable for parents seeking a striking and powerful name for their son.

Rafferty, Rohan, Rion, and Ryan

  • Rafferty: This charming Irish boy name means ‘prosperous’ or ‘abundance’ and is derived from the Gaelic surname ‘O’Raifeartaigh.’ Rafferty implies a sense of wealth and prosperity, making it an appealing name for parents who want a name that signifies success and good fortune.
  • Rohan: Rohan is an Irish name with a distinct connection to warriors and nobility. It is derived from the Gaelic name ‘Ruadhán,’ which means ‘little red one’ or ‘red-haired.’ Rohan is a strong and masculine name, perfect for parents looking for an evocative and vivid name for their son.
  • Rion: Stemming from the Irish name ‘Rían,’ Rion means ‘king’ or ‘little king’ in Gaelic. It is a masculine name that has a royal and regal charm, suitable for parents who want their son’s name to carry an air of importance and authority.
  • Ryan: Ryan is a popular and well-known Irish baby boy name that means ‘little king’ or ‘descendant of a king’ in Gaelic. It is a classic choice for parents who want a name with strong Irish roots and a connection to royalty.

Raymond, Ruarai, and Radha

  • Raymond: An Irish version of the Germanic name ‘Raginmund,’ Raymond means ‘counsellor’ or ‘protector’ in Gaelic. It is especially popular in Northern Ireland, where Redmond O’Hanlon, an infamous outlaw often compared to Robin Hood, was a well-known figure.
  • Ruarai: Also spelled ‘Ruairí’ or ‘Rory,’ this Irish boy name has its origins in Gaelic as well. Ruarai means ‘red king’ or ‘great king,’ implying a sense of power and strength. It is commonly associated with the legendary High King of Ireland, Ruaidri Ua Conchobair.
  • Radha: While not a traditional Irish name, Radha has a connection to Irish mythology. In the Irish legend of Tír na nÓg, Radha is the name of a beautiful immortal woman who falls in love with an Irish hero named Oisín. Although not a common choice for baby boys, Radha can still be considered an inspired choice for parents looking for an intriguing and mythical name.

R Names for Baby Girls


Reidhachadh is a unique Irish baby girl name with a beautiful meaning. It originates in the Gaelic language and is said to mean “smooth or straight.” This name has a serene, calming quality that lends itself well to a child who is destined to be kind and clear-minded.


Rosaleen is a lovely Irish girl name with a poetic and romantic feel. A variation of the name Roisin, it means “little rose.” Rosaleen is a perfect choice for parents who want a feminine and endearing name for their baby girl.


Rathnait is an ancient Irish name that carries an air of mystery. The name is derived from the Gaelic word “rath,” which means “grace” or “prosperity.” This powerful moniker connects its bearer to Ireland’s rich history and evokes a sense of ambition and success.

Riona, Rionach, and Rihanna

  • Riona: This beautiful Irish girl name means “queen” or “queenly.” Riona embodies grace and elegance, making it a perfect choice for a strong and regal little girl.
  • Rionach: Rionach is a strong and mighty name, meaning “queenly.” Similar to Riona, it is a name fit for a little girl who is sure to rule her world with confidence and poise.
  • Rihanna: Often associated with the popular singer, Rihanna is an Irish girl name meaning “great queen” or “goddess.” This name carries a sense of power and mystique, perfect for a child destined for greatness.

Riley and Rowan

  • Riley: This popular Irish girl name has also gained popularity as a unisex name in recent years. Meaning “courageous” or “valiant,” Riley is an excellent choice for a little girl who will grow up to be strong and fearless.
  • Rowan: Traditionally a masculine name of Irish origin, Rowan has recently gained popularity as a unisex name. Derived from the Gaelic word “ruadh,” it means “red-haired.” Rowan is a great name for a spirited and vibrant little girl, especially one with red hair.

In summary, these Irish girl names beginning with R all carry distinct meanings and associations that can suit any personality and style. Choosing one of these names will give your baby girl a unique and memorable moniker with a rich cultural heritage.

Connections to Irish Culture

Historical and Literary References

Irish names beginning with “R” have deep roots in the country’s history, folklore, and literature. One such surname is O Raithbheartaigh, which has produced many prominent people throughout the years, including poets and scholars. It is anglicized as Raftery and Raverty. Notable figures with this surname include:

  • Antoine Ó Raithbheartaigh, a 17th-century historian
  • Máirtín Raftery, a 19th-century blind Irish poet known as “An File Blind” (The Blind Poet)

In addition to historical figures, Irish literature also features characters with “R” surnames. A good example is the story of Reardon, which is derived from the Irish surname O Riordain or O Rioghbhardain.

Meanings and Etymology

Many Irish names and surnames starting with the letter “R” hold deep historical meaning and provide insight into the Irish culture and language. Some examples include:

  • O Raithbheartaigh (Raftery/Raverty): This surname is derived from the Irish Gaelic words “rí” (king) and “bheartach” (wielder), meaning “prosperity-wielding king.”
  • Regan: This Irish name, which can be used for both boys and girls, comes from “ri” (sovereign, king) and the diminutive “-in.” It means “the king’s child” or may come from “riogach” (impulsive, furious).
  • Rían: This is a popular Irish boy’s name, meaning “little king” or “prince.” It comes from the Old Irish word “rí” (king) and the diminutive suffix “-án.”

The meanings and origins of Irish names beginning with “R” showcase the rich culture of Ireland and its strong connection to language, folklore, and history. These names continue to endure in today’s Irish community, where they remain an important part of the cultural fabric.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are popular Irish girl names with R?

Some popular Irish girl names that start with the letter R include Róisín (a diminutive of the Irish word for rose), Rionach (meaning queenly), and Réiltín (meaning little star). These names have traditional Irish origins and are well-liked among those looking for an authentic girl’s name with an R in it.

Which R-starting names are common for Irish boys?

For Irish boys, common names starting with R include Rory (meaning red king or ruler), Ronan (meaning little seal), and Rian (meaning little king). These names have strong roots in Irish culture and history, making them popular choices for parents searching for a distinct and meaningful name for their little boy.

What are unique Celtic boy names with R?

If you’re looking for unique Celtic boy names that start with R, you might consider names like Riordan (meaning royal poet), Roderick (meaning famous ruler), and Raghnall (meaning wise or powerful). These names are not as common as others but still have a solid connection to Celtic culture and heritage.

What are some common Irish surnames starting with R?

Common Irish surnames that start with R include Riley (derived from Ó Raghallaigh), Reilly (from Ó Raghallaigh as well), and Ryan (from Ó Riain). These surnames have strong ties to Irish lineage and are quite prevalent in Ireland and amongst people of Irish descent.

Is Róisín a popular Irish name?

Róisín is indeed a popular Irish name. It is a diminutive version of the Irish word for rose, and it has gained popularity among people seeking a traditionally Irish name for their daughters. As with many traditional names, the popularity of Róisín can fluctuate over time, but it remains a well-liked and enduring choice for those interested in an R-starting Irish name.

What does Ruari mean in Irish?

In the Irish language, Ruari (also spelled Ruairi or Ruairí) means “red king” or “famous ruler.” The name has a strong connection to Irish history, with several notable figures bearing the name, such as High King Ruaidhrí Ua Conchobair.

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