About Names: Kevin a name with Irish roots, everyman appeal

Phoebe Cates and her husband Kevin Kline

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his October 24th column, he looks at the history of the names Kevin.



The actor Kevin Kline turns 70 today. Kevin is the English form of Cáemgen, ancient Irish Gaelic for “beautiful birth.” In the sixth century, former hermit St. Kevin founded a large monastery in Glendalough, Ireland. Legend says a blackbird laid an egg in one of Kevin’s outstretched hands when they were raised in prayer, and he held it until it hatched.

In the late 19th century, the name Kevin was revived by Irish nationalists. By 1900, it was common in Ireland, though still rare among Irish-Americans. It was used only by recent Irish immigrants and a few highly educated parents with Irish ancestry — such as the wealthy Seattle father of actor Kevin McCarthy (1914-2010).

Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Kevins in history!