Old Irish

oldest widely attested Goidelic Celtic language (c. 600 – c. 900); extinct language with ISO 639-3 code sga

Old Irish was the Irish language in the Early Middle Ages. People spoke Old Irish in early medieval Ireland, before the year 1000 AD.[1] Old Irish was a Gaelic language, and Gaelic languages like modern Irish and Scottish Gaelic came from it.[1]

The western British Isles in a satellite photograph by the European Space Agency.

People speaking Celtic languages probably first came to Ireland at the start of the Iron Age, about 500 BC.[2] By around 500 AD, people in Ireland all had the same Goidelic language and culture.[2] Speakers of Old Irish began to move to Great Britain as Roman Britain became weaker.[2] Other peoples of the British Isles named these people the Scoti.[2]

Old Irish was the only language in the Goidelic family of languages until Old Irish split into the modern languages of Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx.[2] These languages are Celtic languages and part of the bigger group of Indo-European languages.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Stevenson, Angus, ed. (2015) [2010]. "Old Irish". Oxford Dictionary of English (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199571123.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-19-172766-5. Retrieved 2021-03-05.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Welch, Robert (2003) [2000]. The Concise Oxford Companion to Irish Literature (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780192800800.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-19-280080-0.