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Hit the road Jack... James takes over as NI's most popular name for a baby boy and Emily tops the list for girls

By Laura Abernethy

Published 17/02/2016

James Nesbitt
James Nesbitt
Emily Blunt

Traditional names are on the rise in Northern Ireland, with Emily and James topping the list of most popular baby monikers in 2015.

Despite being consistently in the top five, this is the first time since records began that James has been the most popular name for boys.

Jack has been the most popular here for the past 12 years, but in 2015 it dropped to second place.

Harry was another popular name, coming in eighth place, as One Direction star Harry Styles and Prince Harry hit the headlines last year. For girls, Emily has held the top spot three times before, perhaps inspired by actress Emily Blunt, including in 2013 when it shared the title with Grace.

With Ella Henderson topping the music charts and Ella Woodward cooking up a storm in the food world, the name Ella came second in the list.

Rosa was the biggest climber among girls' names, up from 147th in 2014 to 53rd in 2015. For boys Jackson climbed the greatest number of places to join the top 100 (145th in 2014 to 75th in 2015).

While many parents followed the traditional route, some were inspired by popular TV programmes and films to give their children a more unusual name.

Some chose Arya for girls after lead character Arya Stark in Game Of Thrones, while some boys in Northern Ireland were named Jon, Theon and Tyrion.

The Frozen franchise has also given inspiration with both Elsa, the name of a princess in the Disney film, and Olaf, the name of the snowman, appearing on the list of registered births last year.

While many names have fallen out of fashion in the past decade, some have stayed in the top 10. Four of the 10 most popular boys' names in 2015 - James, Jack, Daniel and Matthew - were also among the most popular in 2005.

Sophie and Anna were the only two girls' names from the top 10 in 2015 to feature in the top 10 list a decade previously.

Sam, Ruairi, Daire, Kian, Kyle, Corey, Elijah, Rhys, Christopher, Eoghan, Jay, Connor and Robert fell out of the top 100 boys' names between 2014 and 2015.

Aine, Lucia, Nicole, Lara, Madison, Darcey, Darcie, Lydia, Lacey, Bethany, Eliza, Jasmine, Tilly and Laura fell out of the list of popular girls' names last year.

In 2015 there were 1,629 different boys' names and 2,207 different girls' names registered in Northern Ireland. This is in contrast to the 1,227 boys' names and 1,795 girls' names registered in 2005.

According to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, which produced the list, these figures demonstrate that parents have become more imaginative in the first names they give to their babies, with a wider variety of girls' names than boys' names being used.

There were 980 new names that had not been registered before. Of these, 381 were boys' names, including Aaren, Christiano and Dani. The remaining 527 were girl's names including Alexah, Fathima and Lolly.

10 most popular boys' names in NI

1. James - 300 babies

2. Jack - 261 babies

3. Noah - 225 babies

4. Charlie - 213 babies

5. Daniel - 188 babies

6. Oliver - 186 babies

7. Matthew - 168 babies

8. Harry - 166 babies

9. Thomas - 157 babies

10. Jake - 141 babies

10 most popular girls' names in NI

1. Emily - 233 babies

2. Ella - 197 babies

3. Grace - 192 babies

4. Sophie - 179 babies

5. Olivia - 153 babies

6. Anna - 152 babies

7. Amelia - 149 babies

8. Aoife - 147 babies

9. Lucy - 146 babies

10. Ava - 141 babies

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