Naming the Fishes

A Blog For Name Lovers Everywhere


st-odran-naysayer-photo-u1Orrin (pronounced O-rawn), a variant of Odran is a Irish name meaning “little pale green one.” This delightful little name is quite popular in Ireland at the moment ranking at #77 and #40 in  Northern Ireland. By English, American and Australian standards it may seems quite obscure due to its absent ranking in American and Australian charts. In England it stands at #2629 with only 7 babies born in 2010. However since the ‘O’ sound is quite popular at the moment, Orrin could stand a chance of being recognized and used internationally. And why not? It is a name rooted in history and religious importance.

Orrin is associated with two Irish saints. There is a parallel in that each man voluntarily sacrificed himself to further the work of a better-known saint.

The first one, Saint Odran of Iona is the patron saint of the parish of Silvermines. Late in his life he accompanied Saint Columba and eleven others to the Scottish island of Iona. However shortly after their arrival Odran sensed his own death drawing near and predicted that he would be the first monk on the island to die. Many legends surround his death, one goes like this:

The chapel that Saint Columba wanted to build on Iona was destroyed every night. Finally he was told by a voice that it could never be finished until a living man was buried below. So Odran was buried alive willingly and the chapel could be finished. But one day he pushed his head through the wall and said that there was no hell as was supposed nor heaven that people talk about. Alarmed by this Columba let Odran’s body be variously covered with earth more securely or removed with haste.

MacLeod Banks, M. (1931). “A Hebridean Version of Colum Cille and St. Oran”.

The second person, another called Saint Odran was the disciple of Saint Patrick. He was the first Irish Christian Martyr in Irish history. One version of the tale of how he became a martyr goes like this:

On the borders of the present counties of Kildare and Offaly, the chieftain of that district Failge Berraide worshipped the pagan god Crom Cruach and vowed to avenge the god’s destruction at Magh Slécht by killing Patrick. Odran overheard the plot, and as they were setting out in the chariot to continue their journey, requested that he be allowed to hold the place of honour instead of Patrick, who granted his wish, and scarcely had they set out when a lance pierced the heart of the devoted follower, who by changing places thus saved Patrick’s life.

Famous Bearers:

  • Orrin Hatch-U.S Senator
  • Orrin Thompson-football player





One comment on “Orrin

  1. waltzingmorethanmatilda
    July 25, 2013

    It IS obscure here, but there is something about this name which appeals to me greatly. It’s one of the softer-sounding boy’s names.

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