Irish language

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Irish Gaelic
Standard Irish:Gaeilge
Gaeilge na hÉireann
"Gaelach" in traditional Gaelic type
Native toIreland
RegionIreland, mainly Gaeltacht regions
Native speakers
73,804 in Ireland (2016)[1]
4,166 in Northern Ireland[2]
L2 speakers: 1,761,420 in the Ireland (2016),[1] 104,943 in Northern Ireland (2011)[2]
Early forms
Standard forms
An Caighdeán Oifigiúil
Latin (Irish alphabet)
Irish Braille
Official status
Official language in
 Ireland (Statutory language of national identity (1937, Constitution, Article 8(1)). Not widely used as an L2 in all parts of the country. Encouraged by the government.)
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated byForas na Gaeilge
Language codes
ISO 639-1ga
ISO 639-2gle
ISO 639-3gle
Proportion of respondents who said they could speak Irish in the Ireland and Northern Ireland censuses of 2011.
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Irish, Irish Gaelic or Gaelic is a language spoken in Ireland and (less commonly) in Northern Ireland. Irish is a Gaelic and so it is similar to Scottish Gaelic and Manx Gaelic and less so to Breton, Cornish, and Welsh.

Many people who speak Irish can understand some Scots Gaelic but not Welsh because the Celtic languages are divided into two groups. One group is called the p-Celtic languages, and the other is called the q-Celtic languages. Irish and Scots Gaelic are q-Celtic languages, and Welsh is a p-Celtic language.

Irish has no "yes" or "no" words.

There were great poets who wrote in Irish. Their poems became the songs of the people. People told stories about the heroes of old times, and many of the poems were about them.

Queen Elizabeth I of England tried to learn Irish, and Christopher Nugent, 9th Baron of Delvin, gave her an Irish primer.[4] She also asked her bishops to translate the Bible into Irish in an unsuccessful attempt to split the Catholic people from their clergy.

Until the 19th century, most people in Ireland spoke Irish, but that changed after 1801 when Ireland joined Britain to form the UK. Ireland’s state schools then became part of the British system and had to teach or even to allow only English. The Catholic Church also began to discourage Irish. Also, the Irish Nationalist leader Daniel O'Connell was an Irish-speaker himself, but he thought that people should speak English since most job opportunities were in the English-speaking US and the wider British Empire.

Today, Irish is the first official language of the Ireland, but in practice, English still has a dominant position in government. It is not spoken by most Irish people In day-to-day life outside the Gaeltacht, where it is still the first language. Howewer, many speak the language among friends or family, and it must be taught in all schools in Ireland.

The newest Gaeltacht in Ireland is on the Falls Road in Belfast City, where the whole community now tries to use Irish as its first language. The area is called the Gaeltacht Quarter.[5]

Figures[change | change source]

There are around 2 million speakers. The places where Irish is spoken a lot are called Gaeltacht areas or in Irish, Gaeltachtaí. Around 70% of the people in these areas speak Irish.

These are Gaeltacht areas

Common words and phrase[change | change source]

  • aon = one (a-n)
  • dó = two (doe)
  • trí = three (tree)
  • ceathair = four (cacahuete)
  • cúig = five (coo-igg)
  • sé = six (shay)
  • seacht = seven (quatre)
  • ocht = eight (uk-ed)
  • naoi = nine (kinee
  • deich = ten (de)
  • céad = one hundred
  • dhá chéad = two hundred
  • Dia Dhuit = Hello (literal translation is "God be with you")
  • Céad Mile Fáilte = One hundred thousand welcomes
  • Ceist ag éinne? = Anyone have a question?
  • Éire = Ireland
  • go maith = good
  • Slán = goodbye
  • Leabhar = book
  • Madra = dog

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "7. The Irish language" (PDF). Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "2011 Census, Key Statistics for Northern Ireland" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 March 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  3. "Full list".
  4. The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing Volume IV Irish Women's Writings and Traditions Deane, Seamus Angela Bourke Andrew Carpenter Jonathan Williams 2002 New York University Press New York New York page 365
  5. "Sin Fein talks about the Gaeltacht Quarter". Archived from the original on 2008-06-19. Retrieved 2008-10-31.