National Riley Day – October 15, 2022, history, significance

National Riley Day – October 15, 2022, history, significance

If you happen to be a Riley, then you should know that National Riley Day, your day, takes place every year on October 15. Riley is a gender-neutral name with two possible origins. One of them is the Irish surname ‘O’Reilly,’ which comes from the Gaelic word ‘raghalach,’ meaning ‘valiant.’

The other one comes from the Old English words ‘rye’ and ‘lēah,’ which indicate ‘wood’ and ‘clearing.’ It’s known that the surname O’Reilly used to be associated with people who lived near a meadow and once the surname’s spelling was changed, Riley became a popular Irish first name for boys.


Riley is a name with both English and Irish roots. The surname Riley is a locational surname in England, that comes from the Old English words ‘ryge,’ or ‘rye,’ and ‘leah,’ which mean ‘wood’ or ‘clearing.’ It either derives from Ryley in Lancashire, or Riley in Devonshire, being the former a lot more likely.

Tracing it back to these roots, the Riley surname originated in Lancashire, and it accounted for over 40% of Rileys in England, according to the 1881 census. In the said census, the Riley surname was still mostly found in towns and villages along the Calder River and Ribble Valley in East Lancashire.

As ‘Ryley’ was an early spelling, there are many records of it. For instance, Richard Ryley was born in Whalley, Lancashire, in 1597, and there’s also William Ryley, a Lancaster herald who lived at this time. In the late 1600s, William’s son, John, who was born in London, worked as a court portrait painter, and there are also many records of him. All of them can also be found under the ‘Riley’ spelling.

The name ‘Riley’ was first mentioned in Accrington, in the early 15th century. A Riley family arrived at Fearnihalgh, later known as Hillock Farm, which became one of Accrington’s most prominent farms. From these early records, the name Riley and its different spellings and variations slowly but surely moved through history and became more and more popular around the globe, and for the last 10 years, it has remained one of the top 100 names for girls in the U.S.


16th Century
Ryleys in Lancashire
The surname Ryley is found to be commonly used within the Lancashire region.

Riley Gains Popularity
The name Riley enters the top 100 most popular names for girls in the U.S.

Riley Peaks in The Charts
Over 7,000 baby girls in the U.S. are named Riley, the highest number ever.

National Riley Day
We celebrate all the Rileys out there.


Call a Riley
If you happen to know a Riley, give them a call. It is a great opportunity to reconnect and rekindle your friendship.

Watch a ‘Riley’ movie
The movie can either have Riley as a protagonist, like “Inside Out”, or be made by a Riley, like “Faults”. What counts is supporting the Rileys out there!

Talk about it
Tell all your friends and loved ones about this incredible day. Let them know that if they have a loved one by the name of Riley, today is the day to reach out and congratulate them.


The Blues maestro B. B. King
Yes, his name was actually Riley Ben King!

Amber Riley
Famous for her role as Mercedes Jones in the musical TV show “Glee.”

Ken Riley
The legendary Cincinnati Bengals cornerback who recorded 65 interceptions in his career, the fourth most in NFL history, at the time of his retirement.

Austin Riley
The third baseman for the Atlanta Braves of M.L.B. who won a Silver Slugger Award in 2021.

Charlotte Riley
British actress on the rise, who has appeared in major titles like “Peaky Blinders” and “London Has Fallen.”


It reinforces the importance of names
Our names are historically, geographically, and occupationally significant. It’s always a good time to learn more about their origins.

It recognizes that names have power
The moment someone is named is just as important as the moment they’re born. Days like these allow us to remember that.

It recognizes emotional value
Names have emotional meaning for humans. Celebrating them makes us feel closer to each other.

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