10 Reasons to Start Learning Irish

Gaeltalk Study of the Irish language

These days many people are celebrating their heritage by following ethnic customs and tradition. Learning native language is also part of national identity and culture. The Irish language is becoming more and more popular among a great number of people around the world, and not only Irish. Let's look into why so many people decide to learn Irish:

1. The National Language of Ireland, Irish has recently been recognized as the official language in the six counties of Northern Ireland. It is also the first official language of the Republic of Ireland and an important part of cultural identity of the Irish people. Any language preserves the key distinguishing characteristics of a culture and the Irish language plays a paramount role in everything that is truly Irish.

2. The number of Irish speaking people has considerably increased lately. According to the 1996 census of Ireland 1,095,830 people claimed to be able to speak Irish. Even though there is no exact data of how many people living outside Ireland are able to speak Irish, estimates range from 2 to 3 million.

3. Today the Irish culture experiences a real renaissance. The New Irish Renaissance means that a greater number of people of Irish descent can speak and write Irish today than a century ago. More published materials, including books, newspapers and magazines are now being published in Irish.

4. Another factor that proves the increased popularity of the Irish language is that Irish can now be heard in the mass media. There are several radio stations that broadcast in Irish and since 1996 the Irish language television station, Teilifís na Gaeilge, has been broadcasting news, documentaries, programs for children and soap operas.

5. We all are living in the computer age now and there are a lot of websites, chat rooms, and even online language courses in the ancient tongue of the Gaels.

6. According to official estimates over 70 million people claim to have Irish descent around the world. This valuable heritage represents an important cultural link in the history of Irish people.

7. Knowing Irish is vital for understanding the meaning for Irish names, surnames and place names. The Irish language also offers the insight into Irish heraldry and genealogy.

8. The knowledge of Irish helps learn and understand other Celtic Languages and English in particular. In fact, Irish is considered to be the oldest surviving Celtic language, being the father of two other Celtic languages - Scots Gaelic and Manx. By the way, many English words and expressions were borrowed from Irish, including cat, kibosh, whiskey, loch, slew, smithereens, glen, you're welcome, etc.

9. Irish boasts rich literature and folklore. Irish proverbs are well known far beyond the boundaries of Ireland. Much of ancient and medieval Irish literature has survived and is studied at major universities of Europe, North America and Australia. Irish collection of folklore and proverbs is one of the largest in the world, and much of it is available only in Irish.

10. There has been a considerable increase of Irish primary and secondary schools across the country and four Irish language universities are to open soon.