Irish is one of the oldest and most historic written languages in the world. The earliest evidence of this is preserved in OGHAM inscriptions dating from the fourth century. Much has changed since then and it can now be found in more than 4,500 books, on the television, on the radio, in the newspapers, magazines, and on the Internet.
The image of the Irish language has changed a great deal in recent years, which is evident by the number of people who speak and learn the language, not only in Ireland but around the world. The Irish language is the language of the community in Gaeltacht regions and the language is also expanding in popularity in places outside the Gaeltacht. Irish is a language in complete evolution and full of colourful expression.
The Gaeltacht covers extensive parts of counties Donegal, Mayo, Galway and Kerry - all on the Western seaboard - and also parts of counties Cork, Meath and Waterford. Although all of the Gaeltacht population can speak English, these are the only parts of Ireland where Irish is still spoken as the community language.
Gaeltacht areas have recently seen a surge of popularity as tourist destinations with the introduction of Gael Saoire (www.gaelsaoire.ie), an initiative to promote cultural tourism in the Gaeltacht. Holidays in the Gaeltacht provide an opportunity for people wishing to learn or practice Irish in beautiful Gaeltacht settings and attract tourists not only from Ireland but from every corner of the world who wish to learn and experience Irish culture.
For further information on the Irish language and Gaeltacht areas, visit www.gaeilge.ie or www.udaras.ie.
To view further information about the Gaeltacht regions of Ireland and to see what events and attractions are available in these areas please visit www.gaelsaoire.ie.
Some useful Irish phrases:
- Dia duit: Hello.
- Dia's Muire duit: Reply to hello.
- Cén t-ainm atá ort?: What is your name?
- _________ atá orm: _________ is my name.
- Cén chaoi a bhfuil tú?: How are you?
- Tá mé go maith: I am good.
- Tá mé go hiontach: I am wonderful.
- Ma's é do thoil é: Please.
- Go raibh maith agat: Thank you.
- Gabh mo leithscéal: Excuse me.
Widely used Irish slang:
- céad míle fáilte (kay-ed mill-uh fault-chuh) - a hundred thousand welcomes.
- slán - farewell. (slán go fóill! - cheerio, farewell)
- sláinte - (slon-chuh) a toast - "cheers"
- craic - (pronounced crack) - fun time
- ceilidh / ceili (kaylee) - social evening, dancing session
- diddleeidie (diddle-ee-aye-die) - traditional Irish music