Gaelic is the language of the Ireland and, like its people, bears witness to a long tumultuous history. With some of the oldest literature of Western Europe, learning Gaelic will make you one of the select few who keep this language alive.
While there are 1.66 million people who have some knowledge or have studied Gaelic, there are only 260 000 fluent speakers. After the 17th century, when England came to rule Ireland, the use and learning of Gaelic was heavily repressed. Nonetheless, Gaelic was still used by many even until the 19th century when the Great Potato Famine halved the population of Ireland with either forced emigration or starvation.
Today there's a strong advocacy and a desire to keep Gaelic a living tongue has sustained the language and drawn many to study Gaelic. It is recognized as an official EU language and is being increasingly taught in schools about the country.
When you study Gaelic you study an ancient language with the first records dating back to the Ogham inscriptions of the 4th century. By the 5th century Gaelic is found in the margins of the many Latin manuscripts collected by Irish missionaries. This old Gaelic gave rise to Middle Gaelic in the 10th to 12th centuries.
Classical Gaelic which existed from the 13th to 18th century saw a great deal of religious translations and literature published. Many scholars believe that even the Irish authors of the modern age that wrote in English were deeply influenced by the lilt and lyricism of their country s original tongue.