Irish language facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsIrish
"Gaelach" in traditional Gaelic type
|Region||Ireland, mainly Gaeltacht regions|
|Native speakers||73,804 in Ireland (2016)
4,166 in Northern Ireland
L2 speakers: 1,761,420 in the Republic of Ireland (2016), 104,943 in Northern Ireland (2011)
|Standard forms||An Caighdeán Oifigiúil|
|Writing system||Latin (Irish alphabet)
|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.)
|Recognised minority language in||United Kingdom (Northern Ireland)|
|Regulated by||Foras na Gaeilge|
Proportion of respondents who said they could speak Irish in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland censuses of 2011.
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.
Queen Elizabeth I of England tried to learn Irish and Christopher Nugent, 9th Baron of Delvin, gave her an Irish primer. She also asked her bishops to translate the Bible into Irish, an unsuccessful attempt to split the Catholic people from their clergy.
Until the 19th century, most people in Ireland spoke Irish but that changed after 1801 when Ireland joined the United Kingdom. Ireland’s state schools then became part of the the British system and had to teach or even allow only English. The Roman Catholic Church also began to discourage Irish as did Nationalist leader Daniel O'Connell, although an Irish-speaker himself, saying that most job opportunities were in the English-speaking United States and wider British Empire.
Today, Irish is the first official language of the Republic of Ireland but in practice English still has a dominant position in government. It is not spoken by most Irish people outside the Gaeltacht in day-to-day life, although many speak it when among friends or family. It also must be taught in all schools in Ireland.
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.
Common words and phrase
- 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
Images for kids
Irish language Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.