Irish: The oldest colloquial speech

Irish is one of the oldest European languages. It belongs to the Celtic language group which includes Scottish, Welsh, Cornish, and Breton. While there is evidence of the Irish language in the Early Middle Ages, the language of Ireland almost became extinct because the population accepted English as their primary language in the 18th and 19th centuries.

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3 interesting facts about the Irish language


The oldest literature in Western Europe is written in Irish.


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


Many ancient Irish manuscripts were destroyed during the Viking invasions in the 9th and 10th centuries.

Origin of the language

The first speakers of this Indo-European language settled in present-day Ireland some 2,500 years ago. With the introduction of Christianity, the Irish language became dominant in Ireland and spread through Scotland and the British west coast. The oldest traces of Ancient Irish were found on ogham stones from the 5th and 6th centuries.

History of the language

The Old Irish language began as Ancient Irish found as the ogham alphabet inscribed on stones. In the 6th century, the Irish language started to use Latin, and numerous manuscripts emerged from this time. Middle Irish evolved in the 10th century when it accepted Scandinavian words and was later influenced by the French language.

Middle Irish is the language of the Ulster Cycle, a group of Medieval Irish heroic legends and sagas. Early Modern Irish used Classical Gaelic literature from the 13th to 18th centuries, and the grammatical foundation was established during that period.

Irish was the primary native language of Ireland until the 19th century when it was reduced to a minority status due to the integration of English into more spheres. With the formation of the Republic of Ireland, the process of revitalizing and preserving the Irish language began.

Learning the language

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

How to say 10 popular words and phrases in the Irish language

Spoken Irish differs significantly from many other European languages. To learn the Irish language, an English speaker needs around 1,100 hours according to the FSI classification. The challenges are found in significant differences in grammar, pronunciation, and wording. However, you can learn some common phrases quickly.

Irish language for beginners

Ten basic words to start learning in Irish Gaelic:

Bye= Slán

Thank you:= Go raibh maith agat

Good morning= Maidin mhaith

I love you= Is breá liom tú

How are you= Conas tá tú

Good night= Oíche mhaith


Family= Teaghlaigh

Happy birthday= Lá breithe shona duit

Congratulations= Comhghairdeachas

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

Fun facts about the Irish Language

Revival of the language

The Republic of Ireland was officially formed in 1922. Despite experiencing a period of decline in the 19th century, efforts were made to successfully revive the language. The result was that Ireland recognized Irish and English as the official languages.

Irish uses a case system

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

Irish words incorporated into English

Words such as “hooligan,” “boycott,” and “slob” have all seeped into the English lexicon by way of the influence of Irish.


Irish originates from the same language tree as Gaelic, and it is sometimes referred to as Gaeilge. However, these are two separate languages, both belonging to the Indo-European languages

The Irish language has a unique structure with a verb-subject-object word order. For native English speakers, the syntax sounds odd. This is a distinguishing feature of the Celtic languages compared to the Indo-European language families. Irish is one of only 8% of the world’s languages that use such a structure.

Because it has a unique set of rules, Irish could be challenging to learn. In addition, the language can be hard to understand, but, with enough encouragement and effort, it is possible to achieve satisfactory proficiency.

Irish is a member of the Celtic language family, with Scottish, Gaelic, and Manx being its closest relatives. Welsh, Breton, and Cornish are distant cousins.

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