Irish Gaelic

September 23, 2019 11:00 am

Irish Gaelic or Gaeilge is a Celtic language, just like Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig), Manx Gaelic (Gaelg/Gailck), Welsh (Cymraeg), Breton (Brezhoneg) and Cornish (Kernewek).

Irish first began to appear in writing in Ogham inscriptions between the 4th and 6th centuries AD. When St. Patrick introduced Christianity to Ireland in the 5th century, Irish writers began to write in Latin, and at the same time Irish literature written in the Latin alphabet began to appear. The Viking invasions of the 9th and 10th centuries led to the destruction of many early manuscripts.

In English, it is identified as Irish, Gaelic or Irish Gaelic. The official standard name in Irish is Gaeilge. Before the 1948 spelling reform, it was spelled Gaedhilge. In Middle Irish, the name was spelled Gaoidhealg, in classical Irish it was Gaoidhealg and in Old Irish it was Goídelc.

Irish Gaelic is mainly spoken in Ireland (Éire) even though there are also Irish speakers in some parts of the UK (an Ríocht Aontaithe), the USA (Stáit Aontaithe Mheiriceá), Canada (Ceanada) and Australia (an Astráil).

The Official Standard (An Caighdeán Oifigiúil) was developed between the 1950s and 1960s. This was an standardised form of Irish that combined elements from the three major dialects and its pronunciation based  on the Connacht dialect.

There are three main dialects of Irish Gaelic: Munster, Connacht and Ulster.

Between the 17th and 20th centuries, Irish was gradually replaced by English in most parts of Ireland consigning the Irish to an inevitable decay. But just after the country was established as a Free State in 1922, Irish was adopted as an official language along with English.

The Irish language has been experiencing a revival in the latest years introducing a radio service, television station, creased number of publications and a growth in compulsory education.

Furthermore, Irish became an official language of the European Union in 2005.


Galway LC. Is The Irish Language Important? – Little Cinema Seachtain Na Gaeilge Vox Pop. YouTube. Published March 12, 2014. Accessed August 16, 2019.

Irish (Gaeilge). Irish language, alphabet and pronunciation. Accessed August 16, 2019.

Irish Gaelic. Accessed August 16, 2019.

Status of the Irish language in the European Union. Accessed August 16, 2019.

Voices – Multilingual Nation. BBC. Accessed August 16, 2019.

Written by Maria Blanca Escudero Fontan, trainee in the Direction of the Directorate B and in TermCoord. Holds a Degree in Translation and Interpretation ( Universidade de Vigo) and a MA in International Studies (USC).

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