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Irish: The oldest colloquial speech

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10 facts about the Irish language


Irish has been recognized as one of the official languages of the European Union since 2005.


Irish is the official language of Ireland but is also spoken across Scotland, the United States and Canada.


The oldest literature in all of Western Europe is written in Irish.


Irish Gaelic belongs to the family of the Celtic languages, which include Scottish Gaelic, Cornish and Welsh.


The three main dialects of Irish are Ulster, Connacht, and Munster which are all spoken in different parts of Ireland.


Irish is acknowledged as a minority language in Northern Ireland while English is the official language.


Places where Irish is used as a first language by the locals are referred to as the Gaeltacht.


Irish Gaelic initially started appearing in old scripts during the 4th and 6th centuries AD.


After Christianity came to Ireland in the 5th century, Irish Gaelic was written in the Latin alphabet.


Most old Irish manuscripts were destroyed during the Viking invasions in the 9th and 10th centuries.

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Origin of the language

Irish Gaelic emerged on the island of Ireland.

History of the language

It is thought that it originated in the 4th century.

Learning the language

For an English speaker, it is estimated that it takes 4,400-5,500 hours to learn Irish.

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Irish language for beginners

Ten basic words to start learning in Irish Gaelic:











lang orbit original

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

Oliver Goldsmith

Poet, essayist and playwright

I’m a believer in acts of kindness, no matter how small.

Liam Neeson


When anyone asks me about the Irish character, I say look at the trees. Maimed, stark and misshapen, but ferociously tenacious.

Edna O’Brien

Playwright and novelist

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Fun facts about the Irish Language

The language was revived

The Republic of Ireland was officially formed in 1922, and it recognized Irish and English as its official languages.

The official standard Irish

The official standard Irish is known as A Caighdeán Oifigiúil and is a combination of the 3 main dialects of Irish. It is commonly taught in schools.

Irish uses the case system

Irish, like German and Latin, has a case system with four cases to highlight the different functions of nouns and pronouns in a phrase.

Irish uses the Latin script

The Latin alphabet is used for Irish but not all the letters are included. Several characters such as j , k, q, v, w, x, y, and z are not used in the Irish language.

1.2 million speakers

An average of 1.2 million people speak Irish across the globe; of these, 170,000 people speak Irish as their first language.

Influenced by several languages

Apart from obvious inspiration from English and Latin, Irish Gaelic has been heavily influenced by French and the language of the Vikings.

Irish words incorporated into English

Words such as hooligan, boycott and slob have all seeped into the English language by way of the Irish language.

Teenagers learn Irish during their summer holidays

Many families have developed the custom of sending their kids to live with Gaeltacht families in the summer to gain a better understanding of the Irish language.

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