A Brief History

The Gaelic language, also known as Irish Gaelic or simply Irish, is a Celtic language that has been spoken in Ireland for over 2,000 years. Its origins can be traced back to the pre-Christian era when the Celtic peoples first arrived in Ireland. Despite the modernization of the language over time, the language has suffered a decline in use due to the effects of English colonization, famine, and emigration. Today, the language is spoken by approximately 1.7 million people in Ireland, and there are efforts to revive and promote the language through education, media, and government support.

Interesting Facts About the Language

  • The Irish Gaelic alphabet has just 18 letters
  • There are an estimated 1.7-2 million Irish Gaelic speakers worldwide. Only 170,000 speak it as a first language
  • Gaelic has inspired many English words, including “galore” (from the Irish ‘go leor’) and “smithereens” (from the Irish ‘smidirini’)
  • Irish Gaelic is the only Celtic language that is an official language of the European Union
  • Gaelic is the official language of Ireland and one of the two official languages of Scotland
  • The word “whiskey” comes from the Gaelic phrase “uisce beatha,” which means “water of life”

Famous Gaelic Speakers

What Gaelic Means to Me