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Máire is the Irish language form of the Latin Maria, which was in turn a Latin form of the Greek names Μαριαμ, or Mariam, and Μαρια, or Maria, found in the New Testament. Both New Testament names were forms of the Hebrew name מִרְיָם or Miryam English language name Mary. It was and still is a popular name in Ireland, and is sometimes spelt in its Anglicised form Maura. Historically, Maol Muire (devotee of Mary) was the reverential form used by the Irish, just as Giolla Phádraig (servant of Pádraig) was the reverential usage for what subsequently became Pádraig. Following the Norman Invasion of Ireland, Máire gradually replaced Maol Muire as a given name, as Pádraig gradually replaced Giolla Phádraig. Its overwhelming popularity was due to the Irish devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, but in recent times Irish religious devotion has waned and far fewer girls are being named Máire or Mary.

Completely unrelated to this, Maire is also a female first name in Finland and Estonia.

Legal status[edit]

Anyone who is usually known by the name Maria or its derivatives would have been[weasel words] registered as Máire at school in Ireland as this is the norm with all names where there is a translation. Even outside of school, a woman may, if she so chooses, be known as Máire on all legal documents as an Irish person's name has a legal form in either official language of the State. For example; a woman named Mary Murphy in English would be known in Irish as Máire Ní Mhurchú if she is unmarried and Máire Uí Mhurchú if she is married.

Religious exception[edit]

Due to a very strong devotion of Irish Catholics to the Blessed Virgin Mary, a special exception is made for her name. In Irish, she is known as Muire and no one else may take that name similar to the way the name Jesus is not used in most languages. A possible exception is the name Máel Muire, used by both men and women, which denotes "Servant of Mary."

People with the given name[edit]

Other uses[edit]

Máire was the pen name of the Irish author Séamus Ó Grianna