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Rónán (anglicized Ronan) is an Irish language male given name meaning "little seal" (Rón meaning the animal "seal", and -án being a diminutive suffix) and was the given name of twelve saints throughout history,[1] including St Ronan of Locronan (a monk who settled in armorican Brittany), St Ronan of Iveagh, St Ronan of Iona, St Ronan of Ulster and St Ronan Finn, who was made famous in the legend Buile Shuibhne (The Madness of Sweeney).

The name may derive from the Irish legend that tells of a mother seal who is warned never to stray too close to the land. When the seal is swept ashore by a huge wave, she becomes trapped in a human form, known as a "Selkie" or "seal maiden". Although she lives as the wife of a fisherman and bears him children, known as "ronans" or "little seals", she never quite loses her "sea-longing". Eventually she finds the "seal-skin" which the fisherman has hidden and slips back into the ocean. However, she can't forget her husband and children and can even be seen swimming close to the shore, keeping a watchful and loving eye on them.[2]


First name




  1. ^ "Who was St Ronan?". Saint Ronan's School.
  2. ^ http://audio.babynamesofireland.com/audio/ronan.mp3