Irish - Interesting Facts


Irish, also known as Gaeilge, is spoken by only 140,000 people as their mother tongue, but approximately 1 million speak it as a second language. Despite being one of the oldest languages on the European continent and belonging to the Goidelic group of Celtic languages in the Indo-European family, Irish was almost extinct in the late 19th century. However, after Ireland regained independence in 1922, measures were taken to revitalize the language, including its introduction into schools.

Today, Gaeilge is the official language of Ireland alongside English and a minority language in Northern Ireland. It is mainly spoken in the western and partly southern regions of the Republic of Ireland, and the areas where the Irish language and culture are cultivated are called Gaeltachtaí (Gaeltacht in singular). There are three main dialects: Munster, Ulster, and Connacht, each with significant lexical, syntactic, and morphological differences.

Belonging to the EU, Irish is one of its official languages. A unique feature of Irish grammar is the mutation of the initial elements of words, especially consonants at the beginning of words. Additionally, Irish follows the decision-subject-completion sentence order, as in the sentence Labhraíonn Seán Gaeilge (English Sean speaks Irish). Interestingly, there is no equivalent in Irish for yes and no. Instead, their meaning is expressed by repeating the form of the verb in the question, whether affirmative or negative.

Lastly, the longest Irish word, a noun, consists of only 21 letters, and it is grianghrafadóireachta, which translates to photography as a department. The Irish Institute (Foras na Gaeilge) is responsible for promoting Irish, headquartered in Dublin and Belfast.


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A language with a long history

Irish, also called Gaelic, is one of the oldest languages in Europe. Its origins date back to at least the second century BC when the Celts arrived on the island. Over the centuries, this language has survived despite the influence of other cultures and languages, such as Latin, Old English, Norman and English. For Poles, learning the Irish language can be a fascinating journey through the history and culture of Ireland; it also allows you to understand rich literature and local traditions and customs.

The official language of Ireland

Although most Irish speak English, Irish is the official language of Ireland and has equal status with English. Knowledge of the Irish language can be useful for Poles living in Ireland, especially if they plan to work in the public or scientific sector, where knowledge of both languages may be required.

Language with unique grammar and phonetics

Irish has unique grammar and phonetics, different from most Indo-European languages. It is distinguished by, among others, the system of initial mutations, a special order of words and a specific accent based on the length of vowels. Learning Irish can be a unique challenge for Polish speakers, but it also allows you to understand other Celtic languages, such as Scottish Gaelic or Welsh.

Resurgent minority language

In recent years, the Irish language has been gaining popularity among the younger generation of Irish people, who are increasingly learning it as a mother tongue or second language. The increased interest in the Irish language is associated with a greater awareness of national identity and a desire to preserve cultural heritage. For Polish speakers, learning Irish can be a way to understand contemporary Ireland and its people better.

Literature in Irish

The Irish language has a rich literary tradition dating back to the Middle Ages. Among the most famous works of Irish literature are Táin Bó Cúailnge and Dindsenchas. For Polish speakers, learning Irish can be an opportunity to discover this fascinating literature and to understand the influence of the language on the work of many contemporary Irish writers, such as Samuel Beckett or Seamus Heaney.

The language used in the media

Several radio and television stations in Ireland broadcast exclusively in Irish, such as TG4 or Raidió on Gaeltachta. For Polish speakers, learning Irish can be a way to broaden their knowledge of Irish culture and news and to connect with the local community.

Language with a unique phonology

The Irish language has a unique phonology that differs from most European languages. For those who speak English, learning Irish can allow you to discover new sounds and ways of pronunciation, such as wide and narrow vowels or a special way of articulating consonants.

The Influence of the Irish Language on Modern Culture

Today, the Irish language is used not only in education or the media but also in various fields of art, such as music, theatre or poetry. There are festivals and cultural events in Ireland that promote creativity in the Irish language. For Polish speakers, learning Irish can be a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the richness of Irish culture and discover new artists and creators who use Irish as a tool for artistic expression. 


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Essential Irish Dictionary




yes Tá (taw)
no Níl (neel)
please Más é do thoil é (maw shay duh hull ay)
thank you Go raibh maith agat (guh roh mah aguht)
I'm sorry Gabh mo leithscéal (goh muh leh-skayl)
good morning Dia dhuit (jee-uh ghwitch)
good evening Tráthnóna maith (traw-noh-nuh mah)
goodbye Oíche mhaith (ee-huh wah)
good night Slán (slawn)
hi Dia dhuit (jee-uh ghwitch)
how are you?  Conas atá tú? (kunus ataw too?)
well Go raibh maith agat, tá mé go maith. (guh roh mah aguht, taw may guh mah)
My name is... Ainm dom... (an-im dum)
I don't understand Ní thuigim (nee hig-im)



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