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Irish Gaelic


The aim of this paper is to examine the revitalization movement of the Irish Gaelic language in the Republic of Ireland (ROI) and Northern Ireland (UK). It is important to create awareness of the revitalization and to determine how similar the movements of the revitalization in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are.

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Irish Gaelic Language

The Irish language or Irish Gaelic language is descended from a branch of Common Celtic recognized as the Goidelic branch. Related varieties comprise Manx Gaelic and also Scottish Gaelic. Irish is constitutionally declared as the nationwide language of the Republic of Ireland, in spite of the huge fluency and division among people of the nation. It is, nevertheless, an official speech of the European Union. And it is recognized as the official minority language in the Northern Ireland. There are many dialects of the Irish language. The three main dialect spheres coincide with provinces of Munster, Ulster, and Connacht. Ulster language seems quite dissimilar and shares some unusual characteristics with Scottish Gaelic.

Irish Gaelic Speaking Areas

Though Irish Gaelic was utilized across the entire Ireland, it exists nowadays as the official minority speech in Ireland, spoken in some communities and in Gaeltachtaí, the districts where Irish Gaelic is utilized by the populace. There are today Gaeltacht districts in seven counties. The economic evolvement of the Gaeltacht has, nevertheless, been united with the turn down of Irish speakers. Outside Gaeltacht, Irish Gaelic is utilized as a nation’s minority language throughout the entire Ireland, especially in the Northern Ireland. According to 2006 Census, 1.66 million individuals (41% of all people) over the age of three called themselves Irish speakers. The Gaeltacht, generally speaking, refers to areas where the administration recognizes the Irish Gaelic as the main language used at home. These districts used to be governmentally recognized at the primary periods of the Irish Free State. The acknowledgment of these districts was a part of legislative policy seeking to re-establish fluency in the Irish Gaelic language. The areas comprise the Aran Islands, Connemara, Galway, Carraroe, and Spiddal; on the County Donegal, in the part that is recognized as Tyrconnell; and also Dingle Peninsula. Even in the Gaeltacht districts, the Irish-speaking populace has lessened. The main ground cause in this situation has been a movement of English speakers into the Gaeltacht and the invasion of Irish-speakers who have came back with English-speaking relatives.

Multifaceted History

Though English is utilized every day by most individuals in the country, under the constitution, Irish Gaelic is the national and official language. However, it has had a hard history and has practically disappeared. The turn down started in the 17th and 18th centuries when country’s tie with England got worse. By the ending of the 18th century, less than fifty percent of the populace was monolingual Irish-speaking, and the division comprised chiefly the country poor. The sphere was destroyed by the well-known Great Famine (1845 – 1850) and by following mass departure (O'Siadhail, 1983). By the finale of the 19th century, monolingual Irish populace comprised merely one percent of all people. Punishing regulations were introduced that saw customary Irish systems substituted by the English ones. Consequently, English language became the language that populace required to use in order to succeed. Sadly, Irish Gaelic became associated with unawareness and poverty. The language of progress was English. Parents wanted to give the kids the best opportunity in life; therefore, they had to collude with the system.

At the finale of the 19th century, an association to reinstate Irish language was popularized by Douglas Hyde, establisher of The Gaelic League. His effort “to keep alive the once great national tongue” (Dunleavy & Dunleavy, 1991) finally played a huge role in a fight for Irish self-government. After the creation of the Republic, the administrative policy tried to make Irish the dialect of the majority and to save Irish-speaking districts on the borders of the isle. Nowadays, fewer than 30,000 use Irish tongue, and nobody is monoglot.

In the Northern Ireland, an activist Bobby Sands was imprisoned for the political protest in the 1980s. He started to talk Irish as a means of calling attention to the political position. Some prisoners joined him; soon, the tongue movement increased, finding kin spirits in all neighborhoods. Finally, demands for equality of esteem brought bilingual signals to Belfast streets and Irish tongue learning to Queens University. Earlier than the ink got dry on Northern Ireland Peace Accords, an overabundance of Irish tongue classes had sprung up across the six Northern nations; paradoxically, linguistic infection spread southward. Today, with “eighty percent expressing a positive attitude towards Irish” (O'Connor, 2000), upwardly-mobile parents in the ROI, who avoided the Irish education, are sending the kids to highly-prestigious all-Irish schools, where all subjects are taught with the help of the Irish. When siblings return home utilizing a “mother tongue” not spoken – or, in some cases, not even realized - by their older relatives, the latter seek night education, as one parent admitted, to “keep up with own kids” (O'Connor 2000).

Generally speaking, The Gaelic League, created in 1893, played a major role in the evolvement of the policies in favor of Irish, lots of which were accepted by the Irish administration following the organization of the Free State in 1922. Irish Gaelic was named the “nationwide speech” in the Constitution, and it became an obligatory subject at schools, and knowledge in this language was essential for employment.


Nowadays, certain efforts are being made all over the ROI to revitalize the original Gaelic language. As the European Union enlarges and English and French are becoming more and more dominant, Irish individuals have become concerned that their native language would soon become a thing of a past. The most distinguished aspect of the Irish speech revitalization recently has been the constant evolvement of the Irish-medium schools. In the Northern Ireland and ROI in 2006, there were approximately too hundred schools outside the Gaeltacht, contrasted to merely sixteen Irish schools in 1972. There have also been seen huge evolvements in media recently. Since 1996, a devoted Irish-language TV channel, TG4 has been on air. RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta radio broadcasts every day. A native language promotion body, Foras na Gaeilge, was founded under Good Friday Agreement, and there are also lots of voluntary companies (O'Connor 2000).

In spite of this revitalization, some people assert the authorities are not doing enough to guarantee Gaelic is utilized in administrative departments. There are also difficulties with school textbooks, as too few of them are issued in the Irish Gaelic. But in spite of these concerns, Gaelic’s future appears much more confident than it was ten years ago. The revitalization reflects a novel confident and wealthy and nation that no longer associates the native language with poverty.


Irish-Gaelic, one of six Celtic tongues in the Indo-European family, was the majority tongue till the early 17th century. With the appearance of the colonizing English, the transmission was disturbed; dialect dissimilarities occurred, and English became the language of prestige - of administration, education, politics, and material progress. Irish became the restricted property of the rural poor, who, due to the Great Famine, either passed away or migrated.

Gaelic was saved from the possible disappearance when a cultural revitalization started around the 20th century. Soon, Gaelic was made an obligatory subject in schools. So, the language has gone through the progress and recession. A decade ago, the language’s future was again in danger, but then interest in the language augmented. The development in all Irish schools has been extraordinary over the last ten years. Only in Dublin, the quantity of Gaelic schools has increased from fifty to around two hundred. Ireland’s recent economic development is contributing to the language’s revitalization. With so many employment opportunities, human beings no loner associate their own language with misery and poverty. On the contrary, using Irish nowadays is considered stylish, a tendency that is reflected in the nation’s media. 

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