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An Ghaeilge

 Gaeilge (Irish), also known as Gaelic or Irish Gaelic, is a  language of the Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is now spoken as a first language by a minority of Irish people, as well as being a second language of a larger proportion of the population. It is considered to be an important part of the island's culture and heritage. It enjoys constitutional status as the national and first official language of the Republic of Ireland. It is an official language of the European Union and an officially recognised minority language in Northern Ireland.




This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the
views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made
of the information contained therein.




Irish was the predominant language of the Irish people for most of our recorded history, and we brought our Gaelic speech with us to other countries, notably Scotland and the Isle of Man where it gave rise to Scottish Gaelic and Manx. It began to decline under British rule after the seventeenth century. The nineteenth century saw a dramatic decrease in the number of speakers partly due to the Great Famine of 1845–1852 (where Ireland lost half its population either to emigration or death) and partly due to strict government language policies enforced by the British. Irish-speaking areas were especially hard hit. By the end of British rule, the language was spoken by less than 15% of the national population. Since then, Irish speakers have been in the minority except in areas collectively known as ‘Gaeltachtaí’. Ongoing efforts have been made to preserve, promote and revive the language.
Estimates of fully native speakers range from 40,000 to 80,000 people. However, census figures indicate 1.66million people in Ireland have some knowledge of the Irish language. Numerous Irish speakers reside in Britain, the United States and other countries.

In recent years Gaelic as a language has made a strong comeback in Ireland. Events and media such as TG4(tv channel in Irish), Seachtain na Gaeilge, An tOireachtas, Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta and the increase in Gaelscoileanna (Irish-language schools) have helped.


Ag Scríobh/Writing

Ogham was first used in the fifth century. This is the Ogham alphabet. It was usually carved into stone. Around 400 stones survived.


Example of a carved stone found in Ireland displaying the Ogham writing.


An Aibítir/The Alphabet


Bunchló na Nod was the old Irish alphabet:




Bunchló na Nod stopped being used in 1963 and we switched to the English alphabet.




The Irish alphabet is the same as the English alphabet without the letters j,k,q,w,x,y,z
Also included are these letters which feature acute accents above them Áá, Eé, Íí,Óó,Úú, commonly known as a ‘fada’.

Na Gaeltachtaí
A ‘Gaeltacht’ is the name given to the areas where Irish is spoken as the first language. This map shows the Gaeltacht  regions of Ireland. Many of them are on the west coast of Ireland.

Gaeltacht na nDéise is in County Waterford, our home, one of the smaller Gaeltachtaí but our culture and language is alive and thriving. Two parishes are included An Rinn and An Sean Phobal.



Irish Music, Song and Dance
Tradition Irish music has remained popular in Ireland and the ‘saibhreas’ (richness) of the language is noticed through the lyrics of our traditional songs.
Flute, Bodhrán, Fiddle are among the traditional Irish musical instruments heard in Ireland. Traditional Irish singing and Seannós...... Riverdance  (performed live during the interval of the 1994 Eurovision song contest hosted in Dublin) showcased Irish-dancing all around the world.