Both languages have official status under the Irish Constitution, but Irish is considered the official national language of the Republic of Ireland. In Northern Ireland, this language is recognized as a minority language. In addition, Irish is one of the official languages of the European Union.
For comparison, the following are examples of some English and Irish phrases:
Conas atá tú? How are you?
Tá mé go maith. I’m doing well.
Nollaig shona duit Happy Christmas
Cén t-am é? What time is it?
Irish is one of the Celtic languages that were once spoken in Western and Northern Europe. In most countries, the Celtic languages and tagalog to english grammar translation fell into disuse, but variations have survived to this day in Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Today, English is the native language of most people in Ireland. Irish is a compulsory language in the school curriculum and is taught by children from the age of four until high school graduation. Most of the Irish speakers live in the western counties of Galway, Donegal, Kerry and Cork. Small groups of speakers are found in the counties of Waterford and Meath, located in the south and east of Ireland, respectively. Some older people, as well as preschool children living in rather isolated areas, speak only Irish. It is estimated that the number of Irish speakers is around 80,000 (3% of the population). Most of them are fluent in a second language. Spoken Irish is spoken by 400,000 people (10% of the population).
In the 17th century, the Irish language began to fall out of widespread use. There were many reasons for this regression, so it is rather difficult to describe or analyze the processes that led to the reduction in the use of the language. In the 19th century, the Irish language was very popular on the island of Ireland. One of the factors that negatively influenced it was the conflict between the governments of England and Ireland, which began in 1171, when King Henry II of England conquered Ireland.
Among other things, the introduction in 1831 by the British government in Ireland of universal education exclusively in English, as well as the Great Famine (1845-1852) sharply reduced the number of native speakers. Some Irish politicians, such as Daniel O’Conaill (Dónall Ó Conaill), believed that the future was in the English language, and Irish was a drag on the country’s development. Children were forbidden to speak Irish on pain of severe corporal punishment, while English became associated with prosperity and success.
In the 19th century, the Gaelic League (Conradh na Gaeilge) was founded, an organization created to preserve the Irish language. This event coincided with a revival of the Irish national spirit and traditional Irish culture. At that time, poems and plays were written in English, telling about traditional Irish heroes and myths, one of their authors was the poet William Butler Yeats.
After the Republic of Ireland gained independence in 1922, Irish was recognized as its first official language. However, the new government continued to use English as its primary language and the number of Irish speakers continued to decline.
For example, since Ireland became independent, the Irish-speaking population has declined from 250,000 to 80,000. The government of the republic has taken numerous measures to preserve the language, including the introduction of Irish into the school curriculum as a compulsory subject. However, some believe that teaching Irish in schools is only contributing to its decline in popularity, as students perceive Irish as a difficult and boring subject, and not as part of the heritage of their nation.
Although the number of speakers of the Irish language is much lower today than in the past, they continue to struggle for the survival of the language in the 21st century, despite numerous prophecies of its death. Modern technologies help to preserve the language. In particular, the creation of TG4, an Irish television channel, is helping to restore the image of the language, especially among the younger population. The use of Irish has also grown with the advent of the Internet.
Many measures are being taken to revive the Irish language. Most of the Irish youth understand how important it is to keep it. Until the younger generation has lost interest in the language, it remains the core of the country’s cultural heritage. As the Irish proverb says, Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam (a country without a language – a country without a soul).