Nolan is an Irish name originating from the transferred use of a surname (Ó Nualláin) meaning a descendent of Nuallán. The Gaelic “nuall” means “chariot-fighter, champion”. The surname is also sometimes loosely translated as “The descendent of the crier”. And we’re not talking about cry babies. The “crier” etymology is derived from the first chief of the Ó Nualláin clan who held the hereditary position of herald to the Kings of Leinster (a province in eastern Ireland). A herald was a messenger sent by monarchs to communicate important proclamations across the land; hence the “crier” meaning. The Gaelic word “nuall” is also said to mean “to shout, howl”. Oddly, the name Nolan is not on the Top 100 list of most commonly used names in Ireland (or anywhere in the U.K. for that matter). It is more distinct to North America right now, positioned on the Top 100 lists of most favorite boy names in Canada and the United States. However, Nolan is most popular per capita in France and ranks on the Top 100 in Belgium, too. Apparently there’s a wider cultural appreciation for this quaintly Irish lad’s name beyond the borders of Erin.
The name Nolan is experiencing most of its popularity right now. The name has always been on the U.S. popularity charts since the government began tracking naming trends as far back at 1880, certainly influenced by Irish-Americans. However the 21st century is showing the most promise for this name; 2011 marks the first year Nolan finally landed a spot on the Top 100 list of most-favored boys’ names in the country. This is a name to watch out for – we expect it to climb more in the coming years. Nolan is a name with distinct Irish flavor that appeals to parents looking for first names of Celtic-Gaelic origin, or those who generally find Irish sounding names attractive. We also noticed that Nolan gained about 300 positions on the American male naming charts during the prime years of Nolan Ryan’s baseball career (a career which spanned 27 years between 1966 and 1993). Considered one of the greatest pitchers of all time with a career record seven no-hitters, Nolan Ryan was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999. So not only is Nolan a great name for admirers of the Emerald Isle, but it’s also a great choice for baseball fans alike. Nolan has “shouted” and we are finally starting to hear his “cries”.