Actress Kiernan Shipka via her website
As I was perusing fashion pictures from the SAG awards, I came across an actress named Kiernan Shipka. She is an adorable girl with a name that had me diverted, and since I'm one of the few people who doesn't watch Mad Men, I had to look her up. Her full name is Kiernan Brennan Shipka and she evidently goes by Kiki. Upon first hearing it, the name Kiernan seemed very Irish to me and it turns out Miss Shipka's mom is Irish. It also seemed like a boy's name, and the actress' full name would also give you pause upon hearing it. The name Kiernan is given to more boys than girls in the United States, but as Nameberry mentions, it is close to Kieran AND Kiersten making it very wearable for both genders.
In looking at the birth numbers, you could say Kiernan Shipka was a key reason the name spiked for both boys and girls in 2008, as Mad Men debuted in 2007. Here's a look at the birth numbers since 2000:
2000 - 24 68
2001 - 28 60
2002 - 34 67
2003 - 25 69
2004 - 19 56
2005 - 17 67
2006 - 16 49
2007 - 21 65
2008 - 27 77
2009 - 23 65
2010 - 22 74
2011 - 14 60
I have not been able to find it on any list for Ireland, Northern Ireland, England/Wales, Scotland, or Australia, where I would think it would be used as well, so I'm not sure how popular it is or has been in other countries. It is also not listed on Behind the Name, but from what I can find it is a surname of Irish origin as well as an anglicized version of Ciarán.
Kiernan is not on the rise currently, although it is used now more than it was twenty years ago. It is surprising to me that it hasn't caught on more as it has a few components that could make it a favorable choice for today's parent: it starts with the trendy K, it ends with an n, and it has a cute nickname in Kiki for a girl.
What do you think of the name Kiernan? Do you prefer it for a boy or a girl?