Irish language

Celtic language spoken in Ireland

Irish, Irish Gaelic, or Gaeilge is a language spoken in Ireland. Irish is a Celtic language. This means that Irish is similar to Scottish Gaelic, Breton, Cornish, Manx and Welsh. Many people who speak Irish can understand some Scottish 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 Scottish Gaelic are q-Celtic languages and Welsh is a p-Celtic language. Irish has no "yes" or "no" words.

"Gaelach"[needs to be explained] 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 Republic of 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.)
 European Union
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated byForas na Gaeilge
Language codes
ISO 639-1ga
ISO 639-2gle
ISO 639-3gle
Irish speakers in 2011.png
Proportion of respondents who said they could speak Irish in the Republic of 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 a guide to IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

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. Many of the poems were about them. At one point Queen Elizabeth I of England and Ireland promoted Irish with a view to using it to translate the Bible into that language and tried to learn it herself. Christopher Nugent, 9th Baron of Delvin, gave her a primer about it.[5]

Until the nineteenth century, most people in Ireland spoke Irish, but that changed after 1801 because after Ireland joined the United Kingdom since its state schools were incorporated into the British system and required to teach or even allow only English. The Roman Catholic Church also began to discourage Irish and Daniel O'Connell, though a nationalist and an Irish-speaker himself, discouraged the language because most job opportunities were in the United States and the British Empire.

Today, Irish is the first official language of the Republic of Ireland, but in practice English. retains a dominant position in government. It is not spoken by most Irish people outside the Gaeltacht in day-to-day life, but many people speak it daily also or when among friends or family. It also 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 has been making Irish their first language for several years. This area is called the Gaeltacht Quarter.[6]


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 phraseEdit

  • aon = one (a-n)
  • dó = two (doe)
  • trí = three (tree)
  • ceathair = four (cah-her)
  • cúig = five (coo-igg)
  • sé = six (shay)
  • seacht = seven (shocked)
  • ocht = eight (uk-ed)
  • naoi = nine (knee)
  • 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


  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. [1]
  4. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Irish". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  5. 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
  6. Sin Fein talks about the Gaeltacht Quarter