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James, Noah and Grace were the most popular first names given to babies in Northern Ireland, for births registered in 2018

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It’s official – James, Noah and Grace were the most popular first names given to babies in Northern Ireland, for births registered in 2018.

This is one of the findings of the Baby Names 2018 statistics published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

Since official annual reporting of baby names began in 1997, this is the second time that Grace has been the most popular girls’ name, a position held jointly with Emily in 2013. James has been the most popular boys’ name in each of the past four years, joined by Noah this year for the first time.

In terms of boys’ names, Jack (which held the top spot for 12 consecutive years between 2003 and 2014) comes a close third to James and Noah in popularity, followed by Charlie. Leo joined the boys’ top 10 for the first time in 2018. Within the boys’ top 100, the highest climbers in popularity between 2017 and 2018 were Tommy, Theo and Hunter.

While the popularity of boys’ names has varied over the years, James is the only name to have stood the test of time, featuring in both the 2018 top 10 and the top 10 in 1978. Axl, Blaze, Hendrix, Phoenix and Wolf on the other hand, were some of the less common names given to baby boys in 2018.

In terms of girls’ names, Emily has fallen from the top place in 2017 to take second place in the 2018 top 10, with Olivia remaining in third position for the third consecutive year. Within the girls’ top 100, the highest climbers in popularity between 2017 and 2018 were Rosie, Sadie and Saoirse.

Compared with boys, a greater number of girls’ names have held the top spot since the reporting of first names began in 1997. Some of the less common names given to baby girls in 2018 were Disney, Hermione, Moana, Storm and Zandaya.

Birth registrations in 2018 included over 900 baby names that had not been used before. Blockbuster movies, popular television series, current celebrities and memorable places continue to appear to be influencing factors for some parents.

Top 10 baby names in Northern Ireland, 2018


1. James – 217 Babies

1. Noah – 217 Babies

3. Jack – 201 Babies

4. Charlie – 191 Babies

5. Daniel – 154 Babies

5. Jacob – 154 Babies

7. Oliver – 151 Babies

8. Harry – 150 Babies

9. Thomas – 142 Babies

10. Leo – 137 Babies


1. Grace – 221 Babies

2. Emily – 203 Babies

3. Olivia – 178 Babies

4. Sophie – 155 Babies

5. Ella – 151 Babies

6. Amelia – 140 Babies

7. Isla – 135 Babies

8. Anna – 128 Babies

9. Lily – 125 Babies

10. Lucy – 124 Babies

An interactive tool which will return the rank that any particular name has held over the period 1997 to 2018 is available at the following link – https://www.nisra.gov.uk/sites/nisra.gov.uk/files/publications/Baby_Search_tool_2018.xlsx.

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